21. marts 2014

DIKU professor's streaming software hits 100 million users worldwide

Stephen Alstrup, Streaming, Octoshape

In the growing market of online streaming services, Octoshape stands out as a strong provider of stable, reliable and fast service. Hitting the 100 million users milestone is proof of this excellent service, which DIKU professor Stephen Alstrup had a big part in creating.

It's a long road to success, some say, but Professor Stephen Alstrup has paved that road and walked it more than once. As co-founder of Octoshape, he has helped showing the world how to make online streaming work. Octoshape specializes in providing online streaming for big events and costumers, including CNN and the NBA. Stephen Alstrup has since stepped back from his leading role in the company to work as a professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen with focus on basic research in algorithms whilst at the same time accellerating the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst students and fellow-researchers. He is still co-owner of Octoshape.

Bringing Obama across the world...

Stephen Alstrup's background in computer science as well as his inventive mind has played a big part in the success of Octoshape. Handling events followed by millions requires great resources and technical knowledge, as well as careful planning. That is why Octoshape laid out a detailed plan when they took on the task of streaming the first inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. This event turned out to become the biggest streaming event ever captured and distributed on the internet with more than 1.3 million simultaneous viewers. While many other distributors failed to deliver, Octoshape proved that innovation and knowledge is important when creating technology for massive amounts of users - and distributing it worldwide.

... And songs into our homes

Streaming, however, is not just about politics - it is a great tool to bring entertainment into the homes of families everywhere. Aside from sports events, Octoshape also provides streaming access to the Eurovision Song Contest, a task they have sucessfully handled for 8 years in a row, providing high quality signal with little to no buffer time. Prior to this, the event had proven too hard to handle for other competitors, resulting in black screens and long loading times for the users.

Sudden events require great flexibility

However, the true test lies in the handling of unexpected events. When streaming the funeral of Michael Jackson in 2009, Octoshape was called to react very fast to unforeseen challenges. Due to  problems with other streaming service providers, they were suddenly hit with a stream of visitors much larger than expected. But where others had failed to stand for the pressure, Octoshape was able to scale their service to accommodate the large pressure.

Bio: From innovation to research

Stephen Alstrup is living proof that computer science can bring you far and beyond. After his years of innovating the streaming business, he has now returned to the Department of Computer Science at University of Copenhagen (DIKU) to do research. He now works together with another prominent professor, Mikkel Thorup, at the Centre of Efficient Algorithms (EADS), whilst at the same time fulfilling the role of Vice Head of Department for Innovation and Business Cooperation at DIKU.

Stephen Alstrup finished his PhD at DIKU in 1999.