Having a good on-net CDN can greatly impact an operator’s success in delivering traditional broadcast and OTT multiscreen services. There are several key qualities that operators need to look for an on-net CDN, with performance at the top of the list.
Typically, a streaming server is characterized by an input capacity, output capacity and a storage (caching) capacity. When high streaming performances are required, an easy solution is to increase high throughput storage but it will be expensive. On the other hand, if operators stick to basic hard drives that are not too costly, many machines will be required to address the high streaming performances, resulting in a high level of power consumption. A high-performance CDN must be capable of finding the best trade-off between cost and capacity for the caching server. How the software that runs on top of the equipment is optimized in terms of resources usage is also a differentiator.
Robustness and reliability are also important in a CDN. QoE is related to low level of rebuffering and high service availability. Consumers stop watching content if it freezes a lot or if the service takes more than a few seconds to launch. A good CDN minimizes outages through specific redundancy management and disaster recovery features.
Choosing a CDN with a highly scalable, elastic and virtualized design is also crucial. Operators need to be able to allocate resources (i.e., CPU and storage) based on demand. With an elastic CDN, operators can optimize their usage, for example, by performing offline encoding on the same equipment that will stream video during consumption peaks. The level of virtualization in a CDN determines the granularity at which the resources can be allocated. Usage of Docker containers, micro-services, and the NFV standard is the key here.
Another important and often neglected capability of CDNs is ecosystem integration. The CDN should offer APIs between the different components of a video delivery solution. Exchanging information about users, content, how to store it, and optimize its storage is imperative for video streaming.
To ensure a consistent QoE across all screens, operators can utilize in-depth analytics provided by the CDN from both the network and the players. Analytics gives content providers insight into the QoE perceived by end-users leveraging critical information such as start-up time, stall durations, rebufferings, and user engagement.
Recently, ABR multicast technology has been trending as an effective way to deliver live multiscreen video. Multicast ABR solutions makes live HTTP video delivery to any device truly scalable by turning millions of broadband gateways, cable modems, Wi-Fi routers, and STBs into active components of an operator’s content delivery infrastructure. Leveraging home networks, operators can cost-effectively manage the consumption peaks of live multiscreen services for millions of simultaneous viewers using only a few megabits per second from their network.
Partnering with a CDN solutions provider that offers these innovative capabilities and solutions, operators can deliver superior QoE on every screen and reduce content delivery costs.