In 2019, online video consumption was up 59 percent compared to just 3 years earlier.1 But in 2020, it’s business as [un]usual which means the need for online video – and the content delivery networks (CDNs) that deliver this video – is greater than ever before. Yet, even in these unusual times, consumer expectations around streaming video experiences are high.
To provide the best possible streaming video experience that will increase revenue and customer satisfaction, many organizations engage the services of a CDN. However, to choose the right CDN for your video workflow and business requirements, you must first evaluate your unique needs.
Based on our extensive experience with helping companies scale their streaming video delivery, we’ve developed this checklist that outlines key considerations to use when evaluating a CDN for video delivery.
You want to reach the largest possible audience, yet the more you scale the more difficult the technical and business challenges become. You will want to understand not only where the CDNs you are considering have their Points of Presence (PoPs), but what the capacity is in each region where you have an audience. The CDN should have peering agreements with the local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that serve your audience, in order to eliminate “last-mile” bottlenecks between the CDN and the user’s internet connection.
If you are licensing rights for protected video content, you will need to enforce rights agreements – look for a CDN with integrated DRM supporting Google, Microsoft and Apple systems. To protect content from being intercepted in transit, choose a CDN that fully supports TLS/SSL encryption. To sustain uptime and performance when under attack, look for a CDN with DDoS attack protection and on-network attack scrubbing. Look for WAF protection to secure web applications against theft of viewers’ private information.
The two broad categories of streaming video workflows are live streaming and video-on-demand.
Streaming of live events, games and other live content is challenging and gets more challenging with scale. The popular method of live streaming in use today, HLS and MPEG-DASH chunk streaming, introduce delivery latency that can be unacceptable for some time-sensitive applications. As the audience grows, quality can suffer and some users can be denied access. To easily reach as many viewers as possible, consider the following:
Steps for success:
Today’s online video audience expects an instant response and has no tolerance for delays or rebuffers. These expectations don’t change at peak times of demand when a large number of users may be accessing a variety of titles.
Steps for success:
To manage video content and prepare it for distribution to various media devices, most businesses choose an online video platform (OVP) that is purpose-built for day-to-day management of streaming video operations.
Things to look for in an OVP:
The business of delivering compelling user experiences is growing more complex. Increasingly that means your developers are integrating services to deliver video streams, authenticate users, personalize content, serve each viewer the right video format and bitrate, protect your content and more. Meanwhile you’re designing new features and innovations to improve your viewers’ experiences. But where should these functions be performed and how should they scale? Handling them in a centralized datacenter can add latency, create a sluggish viewer experience, and may also add unnecessary cost.
A solution to this challenge is to implement a CDN that lets you easily customize video delivery. With serverless compute capabilities that automatically make your code available to many edge locations around the world, execute at the network edge closest to your users to ensure the lowest latency, and scale to meet demand, you can implement capabilities such as:
If you’re new to online video delivery, you may find that a turnkey solution from an experienced full-service CDN vendor is the fastest path to success. If you already have some capabilities but lack a full end-to-end solution, you will need to integrate additional capabilities to fill the gaps in your solution. Here are some further insights to help.
Assessment and planning:
To ensure success, it’s critical to understand these fundamentals. At this stage, sound advice from an experienced CDN can be extremely helpful. Benefit from their experience.
Determine what key capabilities you need:
Your streaming video solution should provide viewers with a high-quality online viewing experience and offer easy-to-manage, cost-effective operations. Achieving these desired results typically requires many of the capabilities from the checklist above. You may choose to develop and implement the solution in-house, leverage professional services, or choose a turnkey solution from a full-service CDN.
When your video delivery is experiencing issues, every minute matters. To avoid downtime, ensure that your CDN can provide prompt support.
When implementing new capabilities that allow your business to respond to changing requirements, experienced assistance can be invaluable. Some CDN providers have experts available that can act as an extension of your team, with expertise that can dramatically streamline solutions.
The information in this guide is intended to help you move forward in your process of choosing the best CDN for your video delivery, with considerations for the video usage shifts we are seeing in today’s world of business as [un]usual.
Be sure you understand the fundamentals, whether you are doing live streaming, on-demand or both. Know the trends and engage with partners you can trust. Assess your current capabilities and your gaps. Do you need a high-performance turnkey solution, à la carte products and services to complement your current capabilities, or do you simply need fast transport for your existing workflow? Look for a CDN with expertise in video delivery that has the services you need and can support your transition with expert assistance. By considering all of these elements during the vendor-selection process, you will be able to find the right partner for your long-term success in today’s world.
If you are considering CDN services, Limelight invites you to request a free trial. Allow us to demonstrate the quality of Limelight’s solutions and the commitment of every person to delivering the best experience first, for you and your customers, 24/7/365.
Learn more at https://www.limelight.com/free-trial/.
When delivering live or on-demand video, providing consistent high-quality online experiences is critical to your success.
A CDN can help you achieve that goal. For more information, visit us at https://www.limelight.com/products/video-delivery/.
1Limelight Networks. “State of Online Video 2019”