Video streaming is exploding, propelling the content delivery network (CDN) sector to new heights. By 2022, CDNs will handle 72 percent of all internet traffic, up from 56 percent in 2017.
Simply said, CDNs are the webs that make up the World Wide Web and the nets that make up the internet. They’re made up of networked servers all around the world that provide fast, high-quality access to anything online.
CDNs are the workhorse of any streaming process when it comes to viral material and geographically dispersed audiences. They also address slow video startup times, stream disruptions, and the dreaded spinning wheel known as buffering.
What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?
A CDN (short for content distribution network and content delivery network) is a system of geographically spread servers that transfer media assets, as the name implies. By distributing text, image, and video data to edge sites throughout the world, these networks eliminate the traffic bottleneck that can occur when serving content with a single server.
As a result, the edge servers and the origin server share the load. Instead of each viewer’s request for a stream to be sent across the internet to a single central point, the content and processing power are provided by the CDN server nearest to them. As a result, the load is distributed among a large number of collaborating servers.
What Is a CDN and How Does It Work?
Have you ever wondered how Amazon manages to deliver items so quickly? In the same way, a CDN functions. Consider Amazon’s headquarters to be an origin server, and its distribution hubs to be edge servers.
When you place an order with Amazon, the closest distribution centre tries to fulfil it. That warehouse will either have the goods in stock or will request it from a different distribution centre.
When you try to stream a video from a CDN, the closest edge server tries to provide it to you. The media files will either be cached on the server or a request will be sent to another server that has them.
Instead of shipping each item straight from their central hub, Amazon accelerates delivery by distributing goods from these local warehouses. Similarly, CDNs speed up delivery by providing content from nearby servers rather than the distant origin server every time.
What Is a Video CDN and How Does It Work?
To distribute video streams quickly, a CDN uses a vast network of servers strategically situated throughout the world, as explained above. A stream populates all over the world once it is posted or is live. When a user presses the play button, the CDN server nearest to them serves the content. The media files will be ready for another user in the same region after the stream has been started.
Streaming content used to be supplied by specialized servers via the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP). Thankfully, in the 2010s, the industry shifted to HTML5-based technology. In one fell stroke, this eliminated buffering and improved cache performance.
The adoption of protocols such as Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) brought the power of CDNs to streaming. Because these new technologies were run on regular HTTP web servers rather than dedicated RTMP servers, this was the case.
By storing copies of media files close to viewers, video material delivered via a CDN nowadays reduces buffering and stream crashes. Even with live broadcasts, caching makes a significant difference. The launch lag can be reduced to around five seconds using cached chunks from a live broadcast. Furthermore, it decreases the burden on the origin server, resulting in a more stable viewing experience.
For live streaming, use a CDN
Netizens were able to use the power of video to communicate their thoughts and express their opinions as the Internet grew. Many websites use this medium to enlighten, convince, and, of course, sell their products. Videos are a practical way to improve one’s business, whether it’s through the usage of previously published YouTube videos or ones made by the firm itself. This is where video content delivery networks (CDNs) come into play. Video CDNs not only make watching videos easier, but they also help with a more demanding method of using videos: live streaming. Making a CDN stream live videos is an effective way to achieve a variety of business objectives, and BelugaCDN can assist you with this. Let’s take a look at video CDNs and how they can help live streaming websites.
Extra Caching Assistance
Because of their caching capabilities, video CDNs can surely aid live streaming websites. Making a CDN stream live videos is a smart decision; CDNs already help websites load videos quickly for online users, and Livestream visitors are no exception. When it comes to website bandwidth and transmitting data to video viewers right immediately, live streaming CDN providers require a lot of aid to ensure that the live streaming stays “live,” or on the dot, when it comes to timestamps and turn of events in the livestream. Video CDNs will enable this by caching enough video data to cover a large number of streaming videos. Making a CDN stream live videos in order to relieve the load on the home server. Instead of going straight to the company’s home website, visitors to live streaming websites are diverted via the video CDN to a remote server, where they can watch the same video they want at a quicker rate. This way, live streaming websites meet the needs of everyone who wants to watch the livestream while also preventing the firm website from going down.
A More Pleasant Viewing Experience
Making a CDN broadcast live videos provides a more seamless experience for those who are looking forward to seeing live videos. The video CDN will work tirelessly to ensure that viewers of live streaming websites receive accurate and timely data, ensuring that the experience is uninterrupted. With little or no buffering delays, the video CDN will provide clear, unpixelated, high-quality films. Who wants to wait to see something that is happening right now? This is the purpose of live streaming videos: to see events happen immediately in front of one’s eyes without needing to be present at the event itself. However, if the video is choppy or the buffering intervals are long, this experience will be impossible. Video CDNs will prevent this from happening. Making a CDN broadcast live videos is about making it work for both viewers and businesses. Because of the benefits, CDN for live streaming websites should choose to have a CDN stream live videos for them.
Preserve the capabilities of your website
Aside from the livestream, live streaming websites do include additional features. These live streaming websites may also feature informational pages, galleries of images, and a “contact us” page for interested clients. When live streaming takes place, the effort to pull the video’s weight has an impact on the website’s other services. Making a CDN stream live videos allows the video CDN to focus its efforts on the livestream while still allowing other website functions to function normally. Consider this scenario: someone is carrying a lot of goods in their hands, but another person arrives to share the load, dividing the burden between two persons. The video CDN serves this purpose. Making a CDN broadcast live videos entails catalysing a video CDN to take on live streaming when a live streaming website is present. All website activities are carried out with ease in this manner.
CDNs come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
One or more CDNs are used by all well-known websites. Google, Facebook, and Amazon, for example, all have their own CDNs, and each one is focused on a specific sort of service. An in-house network that’s purpose-built for streaming might be involved for services like Netflix that focus around video delivery. These networks are referred to as video CDNs.
Commercial CDNs, on the other hand, are better suited for static websites in some cases. Others, on the other hand, concentrate on specialised areas (such as CDNvideo for Russia, Alibaba for China, and GS Neotek for South Korea and Asia). The best CDN for your workflow is determined by the goals you want to achieve.
Benefits of using a CDN to stream video
CDNs connect servers around the world to create superhighways which reduce the time required to deliver video streams. If viewership increases, sharing the load across multiple servers improves scalability.
Some of the benefits of streaming with a CDN are:
- Scalability. This feature is the most important selling point for a CDN. It is the most efficient and reliable way to get your content seen by many people around the globe. CDNs are able to accommodate viral viewership spikes as well as larger than expected live audiences.
- Quality. Streaming via a CDN can help you achieve the best user experience. CDNs reduce buffering and delay by using superhighways that send streams to large audiences around the world. Your ISP or local network might slow down delivery at the first and final leg but the CDN will skip all traffic between.
- Speed. CDNs distribute content quickly to edge servers. This means content is not hampered by network conditions or long distances between origin and end users. CDNs are able to deliver cached content instantly for both live and on-demand (VOD), content.
- Security and reliability. Finally CDNs offer an additional layer of protection via redundancy. Streaming through a CDN helps prevent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), attacks that occur when multiple attempts are made to attack a resource or site simultaneously. A redundant CDN with multiple access points allows for failover. You won’t have backup options if streaming with one server.
- Accessible infrastructure. Although some large corporations choose to set up their own servers around the world, this is not feasible for most content distributors. CDN services enable broadcasters to outsource infrastructure maintenance and costs while still enjoying the same global delivery power.
Paid vs. Free Video CDN Services
CDNs are free and won’t cost you a lot, but you will get what you pay. There may not be any support if streaming goes wrong.
Although these free services offer access to large numbers of viewers, viewers will assume that it is their fault if technical problems occur. A paid CDN is your best option when the stakes are high.
The cloudflare and any other paid service come with a nearly-guarantee in reliability and quality. Our service is designed to deliver live video data to users with high availability and reliability. It also offers multi-CDN flexibility using Akamai, Fastly and other top providers. This allows you to weigh the pros of each service or ensure redundancy by using multiple providers.
What to Avoid when using a CDN
CDNs offer many benefits but are not suitable for all use cases. These scenarios are not ideal for CDNs:
- Small-scale streaming. You don’t usually need a CDN if you have a limited number of viewers or your geographical scale is small. You can stream to all of your users from one server, except if they are widely distributed. There are more chances of failure if you add more elements to your streaming workflow.
- Budget constraints. We suggest that you compare the egress costs to the cost for a CDN as these can differ depending on where the CDN is deployed. There are both free and paid CDN options, as we have already discussed.
What you should look for in a live streaming CDN
Live streaming requires that the CDN you choose can handle a rapid increase in viewers. Geographic coverage is also important. And pricing is always an issue. This is our list of characteristics to consider when choosing a video CDN.
- Support for live streaming. This means that the CDN will integrate with your streaming service or server to deliver live streams to viewers. You’ll find resources to help you get started. We mentioned that not all CDNs provide live streaming delivery. You may also find technical support and documentation about streaming with a CDN helpful.
- Prximity. They say, “Location, location.” CDNs are designed to quickly transport content from your servers and to your viewers. Round-trip time (RTT) between each viewer’s local CDN point-of-presence (PoP), directly affects how quickly that content is delivered. You’ll need good coverage in areas you serve. For the same reason, your streaming server should be near the ingest point. Each CDN provider has a global map. To ensure efficient video distribution, you will want to select a provider that is compatible with your audience’s geographic nuances.
- Feature set. Providers may differ in their ability to support adaptive bitrate streaming and advanced security measures such as digital rights management (DRM) and multi-protocol delivery. When comparing live streaming CDNs, you will want to ensure that all your requirements are met.
- Cost-efficiencies. It might be a good idea to use their CDN service if you already store your content on Microsoft Azure, or run your streaming server there.
- Pricing. This one is easy to understand. Many CDNs charge per gigabyte (GB), while others are included in managed streaming solutions like Wowza. Jan Ozer from Streaming Media Magazine suggests that delivery pricing should not be the largest component of your streaming costs. However, it is important to compare your options.
The Best Video CDN Providers for 2021
You may not be able to find the right streaming platform for you if you don’t use Wowza Streaming Cloud. Even with a managed service, there may be several options. Anyone streaming with Wowza Streaming Cloud can choose to use Fastly or Akamai, as well as a combination of both.
Akamai has been the OG in content delivery. It is also the largest CDN. They are distinguished by their global coverage and support for various codecs and streaming protocols.
Fastly, an edge cloud platform, offers CDN services to streaming giants like Twitch, Spotify and Amazon. It is a next-generation alternative for legacy telco-based CDNs. Fastly has also been partnered with us to provide advanced stream analytics and fast content delivery to Wowza Streaming Cloud customers.
There are a variety of pricing options available for streaming streams using Fastly using Wowza Streaming Cloud. Prices are dependent on where your broadcasts go. Transfer charges start at $0.12 per gigabyte and drop after 10TB.
3. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft’s CDN is a great option for broadcasters who already store their files on the Azure platform. It also allows them to run streaming servers on that platform.
The pricing for Azure CDN varies depending on the data transfer amount and zone. This makes for a complicated plan that is detailed on their website.
4. Amazon CloudFront
If you already store and host your streaming resources on the cloud platform, Amazon CloudFront may be an option. CloudFront allows delivery of HLS/DASH/HDS and Microsoft Smooth Streaming.
Cloudfront pricing starts from $0.085 and drops to $0.02 per gigabyte when streaming more than 5 PB to the United States of America, Mexico, Canada and Europe.
While KeyCDN does not deliver live streams or on-demand streams via HLS, it is still affordable. Their video CDN is compatible with streaming platforms such as Wowza.
Pay-as you-go billing starts from $0.04 per gigabyte and drops to $0.01 per gigabyte for high volumes.
Next-Gen streaming: How CDNs are evolving
Streaming has become a standard part of our daily lives thanks to increased data and connectivity. CDNs are essential in fulfilling the demands of end users who expect high-quality content and lightning-fast delivery.
Edge computing allows computation and data storage to be closer to the users. Edge computing reduces response times and bandwidth by centralizing processing and decision making.
Many CDNs are optimising their infrastructure by adding advanced computing resources to their PoPs at the edge. This allows them to increase user access and lower data access costs. This is a critical step in 5G and will be instrumental in driving self-driving car applications over the next few years. Fastly and Akamai both hyped this evolution, with Akamai rebranding themselves to as “an intelligent Edge platform.”
The emergence of low-latency technologies such as Web Real-Time Communications, High-Latency and low-latency CMSAF for DASH is another development in streaming. These formats are being supported by many CDNs, which will allow for faster video delivery. The ability to stream live video at scale is a game changer for interactive experiences such as auctions, gambling and sports broadcasting.
The Stream Targets feature lets content distributors choose one or more destinations, such as a third party CDN, to distribute the live stream. This allows for easy scaling.
Available Stream Destinations:
- Social media sites such as YouTube Live and Facebook Live
- A single destination can be added to a point-to–point connection.