Competitive advantage

How we fit into the BigBlueButton hosting marketplace

The principle 'unique selling points' of BBB On Demand are covered in the pages on meetings, instances and recordings, but there are some more general issues that you should care about when looking for a BigBlueButton hosting solution.

Ultra Fast Network

BBB On Demand uses the ultra-fast fibre network developed by Google for the exclusive use of Google and their customers. This is transparent to your users, but if someone connects to a meeting some distance from the hosted server, their connection will usually be routed along Googles ultra fast dedicated fibre optic network rather than the public internet. As Will Shulman, founder of MongoLab said “It is blazing fast... it has a private distributed backbone between all the data centers. You are talking over Google’s backbone, not over the Internet.

Fast BigBlueButton meetings across Google Cloud Platform Network

This means reduced latency and more consistent video / audio quality because the network traffic is uninterrupted by extra hops. Only providers using Google Cloud have access to this network, thus BBB On Demand uses a faster network than most or all other BigBlueButton providers. If you want to test for sure, benchmark both AWS and Google network performance from your location. We find Google to be consistently faster which is one reason we chose them over Amazon AWS.

Powerful machines

Because our 'on demand' infrastructure makes very efficient use of the underlying computing resources (such as not carrying idle servers) we can afford to use more powerful machines than most or all of our competitors.

Our on demand meetings use highly optimized 'Cascade Lake' virtual machines on the Google Compute platform. Most of the time we use 8 vCPU / 30Gb Ram machines which achieve a spectacular Coremark score (Coremark is a standardised benchmark) of 148, 689 - though for smaller meetings we may use a 4 vCPU / 16 GB machine with a Coremark score of 132,589.

We believe that these machines are more powerful than those used by any other comparable provider of virtualised BigBlueButton meetings.

When comparing providers, you should look carefully at claims about the specification of virtual computers. The industry standard measure of the power of a virtual computer is now the 'vCPU' - which is a single hyper threaded core.

It is easy to get the wrong impression from claims about CPU 'threads' because the relationship between cores and threads is more complicated in a virtual environment compared to bare metal. With AWS, a single vCPU does not guarantee you anything more than a single CPU thread, - so a claim to offer '4 cores, 8 threads' in that environment deserves checking, to say the least. Further information on this issue is available here and also here

Why not ask for the Coremark score of the virtual machines you are being sold so you can do a meaningful comparison?

Questions to ask:

When shopping around and comparing hosting options, consider the following questions:

  • What is your actual utilisation likely to be and how does that translate into realistic cost per meeting hour if you go with fixed price / fixed capacity hosting options?
  • What is the specification of the machine hosting the meeting - and ideally what is the Coremark index?
  • What bandwidth is included and is this sufficient?
  • How many points of presence are available and are these close to our users?
  • How many stun / turn servers are available, are these located in every region?
  • Are the Turn servers correctly configured (not just providing Stun) - and are BigBlueButton instances set up with redundant Stun / Turn servers in case one is unavailable?
  • How fast can new instances be provisioned and how does this compare to the one minute with BBB On Demand. Hint, some competitors take a day to add an instance!
  • How long does it take to provision a meeting? With our on demand meetings it is roughly six to sixteen seconds - but at least one competitor takes five minutes - which does not seem very 'on demand' to us.