Internet of Things (IoT) video is the latest trend for real-time streaming. An IoT security camera or IoT webcam can connect to the internet and to a network of other cameras and devices to provide you with a live video feed that you can view from anywhere, at any time. However, there’s a slight problem here with the word “real-time.”

Maybe you have a live video feed as part of your security system, but you’ve noticed there’s at least several seconds of difference between what happens and what you see. Your video may be lagging or delayed. This could be because your video is constantly getting bounced to at least one cloud server before it gets to you, the client. This is called a client-server model. 

In a peer-to-peer (P2P) model, the video goes straight to the client instead of through a cloud server. As a result, delays and lag are significantly reduced. Let’s take a deeper look at a P2P vs. a client-server model in IoT video streaming.

Cloud-based vs. P2P

You’ve probably been on a video conference call at some point in the last year or so, and chances are good that you’ve experienced some lagging video at some point. At the very least, there’s a delay when someone else starts speaking and when you actually hear them on your side. As a result, you may find yourself starting to speak and then stopping as you realize you’re talking over someone else. 

Needless to say, that gets old pretty fast. Sometimes the delay comes from a slow network. Other times, it’s simply because all of your communication has to go through a cloud server before it gets to the person on the other side of the call. 

It’s like sending a birthday gift to a friend, only instead of that package going directly to your friend, it makes half a dozen stops at different overwhelmed shipping facilities on the way. At each facility, there’s a chance that your package will get delayed or even lost. At the very least, it will take a while to get there. 

It’s the same with a video conference call or security feed. In a client-server model, the video feed has to go through at least one server and may be distributed through multiple servers, all of which are in constant communication with a bunch of other clients, which leads to delays. 

In client-server video streaming, there’s usually one server at the center that “serves” video to multiple clients. The more clients there are, the more bandwidth it requires and the more overloaded the server can get. So if you have a big network of IoT devices that are sending and receiving video, your system can get overwhelmed because one server is trying to deal with a bunch of clients. By contrast, P2P technology bypasses the server, so you get video at the speed of your internet connection. The network of clients, or peers, communicate with each other directly instead of through a central server. Skype originally used P2P technology to provide high-quality real-time video calls. However, more recently, the platform switched to a client-server model, which has led to an increase in delays on the platform.

Benefits of P2P Technology in IoT Video Streaming

Speed is definitely one advantage of P2P compared to cloud-based streaming, but it’s not the only one. 

1. Reduced Latency

As we’ve described, higher communication speed equals reduced latency. Latency refers to the delays you experience between what’s actually happening and what you see on your computer screen from your cameras. P2P reduces or eliminates these delays.

2. Increased Security

Certain risks come with transferring data, in this case a video feed, through a third party cloud-based server or database. For example, you usually need to decrypt the feed in order to transfer it into a database for processing. That means that there are different times during transfer that data is virtually unprotected. Contrast that with P2P, which allows you to keep data encrypted from end to end, so it’s never vulnerable to interception. The feed is harder for hackers to interfere with. 

One example of the difference is with Skype calls. Since Skype moved to a client-server model, there have been more concerns about privacy and encryption on the platform. Whereas one of Skype’s initial selling points was default end-to-end encryption in a P2P model, this is no longer the case.

3. Lower Costs

This is one of the top reasons many turn to P2P. Cloud servers are expensive, especially for startups. And the more clients take on, the heavier the load on these servers. Since many third-party cloud service providers charge based on load, you can expect high and potentially overwhelming costs. Eliminating or reducing your reliance on third-party cloud servers can lead to a major reduction in IoT video streaming costs. 

In the case of Nabto’s P2P connectivity platform, we have a simple, transparent pricing model that allows you to predict costs and pay upfront for at least five years of P2P connectivity for all your IoT cameras. That means you can provide cost-efficient P2P IoT video streaming anywhere at any time. 

P2P IoT video streaming provides many benefits, and it’s easy to implement if you have the right tools. If you’d like to understand more about what Nabto’s P2P connectivity platform can do for you, you can simply request a consultation with one of our IoT experts.

Read Our Other Resources

We’ve also published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:

  • You can get a full understanding of P2P here 
  • See how P2P can help reduce latency
  • Learn more about P2P from the developer perspective
  • All you need to know about using Nabto P2P for your video solution can be found here.

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