Enterprise/Edu Speaking Spots Open At Streaming Media East Show

The final program for the Streaming Media East show is nearly complete with just a few speaking spots still open. If you are interested in joining any of the enterprise/education focused sessions below, please contact me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Enterprise Delivery: Building an Internal Streaming Solution
Two round-table speaking spots open

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
From the Classroom to the Athletic Fields: Streaming In Educational Institutions
One round-table speaking spot open

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Integrating Streaming, Video Conferencing, and Unified Communications Solutions
One round-table speaking spot open

White Paper: Shifting Live-To-VOD Media Processing To The Edge

To date, the most popular paradigm for multiscreen content transcoding has been a just-in-time-packaging (JITP) approach, driven by low-cost storage, manageable content volumes, and expensive live transcoders. However, soaring content volumes and growing profile complexities on the one hand, and increasing transcoder densities and falling transcoding costs on the other, are shifting economics in favor of just-in-time-transcoding (JITT). This is particularly true of network DVR deployments where operators are required to maintain one copy of recorded content per user.

In a new Frost & Sullivan white paper, we take a comprehensive look at the CAPEX and OPEX economics of JITT deployment as compared to JITP deployment. Data shows that when considering a steady audience with consistent consumption of time-shifted linear content, the five-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of JITP infrastructure is nearly twice that of the JITT alternative.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.42.34 PMThis is due to the fact that the CAPEX for JITT transcoders and the reduced storage that they enable is 30% lower than the JITP alternative. In addition, we see 40% annual savings in OPEX in the JITT scenario as compared to JITP. This is also because volume consumption in this use case is predictable, and therefore capacity can be carefully planned to optimize utilization.

The paper also provides details on the total cost of ownership, CAPEX Considerations, types of transcoding workflows, sources of savings and other industry trends. You can download the paper for free here.

Limelight Looking To Improve Content Delivery Efficiency With A Smarter Purge Solution

As content owners have become smarter about delivering digital content, they have learned to develop workflow processes and integrated systems designed to publish, manage and deliver digital content. From websites to software downloads to games, these workflows have become the backbone of how organizations deliver their content and determine what the end-user experience looks like. CDNs have become a critical element of these workflows by enabling organizations to not only publish their digital content quicker but also to reach viewers with a quality of experience they might not be able to achieve on their own.

Content delivery networks empower organizations with faster content delivery, but also introduce complexities into the workflow, and therein lies the rub. Now organizations need to implement processes that enable them to manage objects not only on origin or storage but also in the CDN cache. With many CDNs, the process of cache management can be slow and tedious. Most CDNs support both cache invalidation, which marks content as stale and triggers a refresh the next time the content is requested, and cache eviction, which physically deletes the content from disk. But for some CDNs, these requests to invalidate or remove objects from cache can sometimes take hours resulting in users receiving incorrect or faulty content in the interim.

While invalidations are much more common, as they don’t re-download the entire content unless something has actually changed, evictions are sometimes required by policy, and generally take much longer to complete, as the files must be physically deleted from every server. And most CDNs only allow Exact URL matches, so when removing lots of small objects (say from chunked video, or many versions of the same HTML with differing query strings), this list can be daunting and error-prone to cobble together.

As part of a host of new services and features that Limelight Networks recently announced, one of the things they are looking to dramatically improve is CDN cache management. With this new technology, which Limelight Networks has named SmartPurge, customers can fire off a purge request and be assured that within seconds, all delivery edges stop serving content subject to the purge request. In the case of a cache eviction, while that’s happening, the SmartPurge technology removes the physical content object in the background. Their new SmartPurge user interface and API allows submitting a mix of up to 100 URLs or patterns in a single batch. Patterns can be automatically generated by the UI, and allow end-users to purge exact URLs, entire directories, all files with a particular name, all files matching a list of extensions, and more – all while specifying whether query terms should be included in the match or not. The purge request gets compiled into a single optimized request, and occurs atomically. Here’s a screenshot from their system:

2With SmartPurge, a Limelight Networks customer could purge all JavaScript files, within seconds and at once, without worrying that users will be exposed to script errors from the time the first JS file is purged until the final one is. While other CDNs offer what they call “fast” purge, many are not flexible as they only support exact URLs. Other CDNs support limited wildcard scenarios such as directory name or file extension, but the requests can take anywhere from 15 minutes to many hours, and occur without guaranteed order and without guaranteed execution, so if a server is unreachable, it is skipped.

For many, the choice has been fast or flexible, but not both. According to Limelight Networks, SmartPurge is the first CDN cache management solution that is near instant, completely flexible, atomic (the entire request completes at once), and also reliable (not best effort execution). It is worth noting that even prior to this launch, Limelight was already offering full Regular-Expression-based purging, providing total flexibility, but the requests could take a long time, were not atomic, and were best effort. Therefore, this announcement is a major leap forward for them, really leaving nothing to be desired when it comes to CDN cache management.

The point about flexibility isn’t just an academic one. A major challenge with CDN cache purging is determining the URLs or cache keys for all the content you need to purge. In many cases, URLs are obfuscated and player range requests result in hundreds of small objects in cache, making up a single video. Furthermore, multi-bitrate HTTP segmented streaming can result in thousands of HLS, HDS, DASH, or MSS chunks per bit-rate per asset. Building the complete list of URLs would be a daunting, near impossible, task. With SmartPurge, Limelight says they have solved this by allowing organizations to submit a single pattern that will match all the chunks related to a particular media asset or a single bit-rate of that chunked asset.

Because CDN cache management has generally either been fast or flexible, but not both, organizations have learned to set their CDN TTLs (the minimum frequency between checks for newer versions of content) lower than they would like, which causes performance to suffer, as refresh checks require going all the way back to their origin to either confirm the content in cache is still fresh or to fetch a newer version. With SmartPurge, organizations can set TTLs arbitrarily high, which is great for performance, and programmatically invalidate all content, or if using a content management system, invalidate just the updated content, and be assured the new content will be visible globally as quickly as if they were still using very low TTLs.

They are also providing advanced reporting that provides organizations with a clear report on what was purged and when, ensuring a validation check as part of the workflow process, which they say is the first “closed loop” guaranteed CDN cache management solution. This is especially important when content must be deleted from cache for policy or regulatory reasons, like DMCA takedown notices. From a product standpoint, Limelight’s been hard at work rolling out new features and functionality like SmartPurge, a new DDoS solution, self-service configuration management tools, and upgraded storage and analytics offerings.

Streaming Vendor News Recap For The Week Of March 30th

Here’s a recap of all the announcements from streaming media vendors that I saw for the week of March 30th. We had three more labeled as “world’s first” and one as “ground breaking”. Vendors really should leave the marketing phrases out of the title of their releases and instead, use that space to better describe what the product/service actually is. Also, releases that say things like “Powers Next Generation Video Experience”, or offers a “One Stop Solution” doesn’t mean anything. There is no way to tell from the title of the release if the company has launched a new product, service etc. or what “solution” they are referencing.

Many are prepping lots of announcements for NAB, so April should be a busy month for news.

Kwicr Unveils Its Mobile Delivery Network

kwicr_horizontal_Hi_ResBurlington, Mass. backed Kwicr, a company funded by Sigma Prime and Venrock with funding of $11.5M, unveiled earlier this week their Mobile Delivery Network. Founded three years ago, the 35-employee firm says it is working with more than 80 mobile apps, including those of some well-known media companies, carriers, development houses and enterprises.

Kwicr’s departure from stealth mode is yet another indication that demand for protocol manipulation technologies that impact the quality of delivery for streaming content is heating up. Two weeks ago, Twin Prime announced its launch and the completion of its initial $9.5M funding round and other companies are soon to follow.

Certainly the timing makes sense. Mobile broadband performance is a problem, with poor quality delivery being the key reason consumers give up on apps and streaming content. As I wrote last week, a recent consumer survey from Conviva noted that 29% of viewers will close a video and try a different app or platform when they encounter a poor experience. And 75% abandon the app in four minutes or less.

In reality though, the issues content owners face today are just the tip of the iceberg. Demand for streaming content of course is increasing and the problem, both as it relates to delivery quality and the resulting user experience, will only get worse. Just last week Facebook unveiled new video features which if successful, and there’s a good chance they will be, will see a rapid increase in the volume of streaming video shared by Facebook’s users. That alone may present issues for some mobile networks already struggling to keep up.

Kwicr stresses that its mobile delivery network is complementary to existing CDNs, addressing mobile broadband performance from where the content is served to the mobile device. In essence, Kwicr aims to do for the last mile what firms like Akamai, Limelight and others do for the Internet backbone. From a high-level, here’s how Kwicr’s technology works.

Mobile app owners and developers integrate Kwicr’s SDK with their app, a process that takes minimal coding and which enables the app to utilize the company’s technology, which it describes as Dynamic Packet Recovery and Intelligent Rate Control Technology. Customers access the technology through the corresponding mobile delivery network which is delivered via a cloud-based service.

The Kwicr functionality, which increases the performance of any mobile app, and therefore the streaming content that is delivered through them, works on any 3G, LTE or Wi-Fi network as well as any Android or iOS device. App owners can monitor the performance of their apps via a dashboard and turn on Kwicr when needed, or set it to turn on automatically when the mobile network’s performance degrades to a set level or, for example, when usages rates for the app are particularly high.

Kwicr uses a protocol solution that adapts to changing network conditions, something that happens often as power levels change from cell towers or Wi-Fi, additional users join and leave a node, and different applications place varying demand on the network. Data from testing they did for a customer showed that available bandwidth varied an average of 239% during 10 minute sessions.

With network conditions constantly changing on a millisecond basis, static profiles are of limited value. Kwicr’s solution dynamically adapts to these rapidly changing conditions by measuring the available bandwidth and adjusting the rate of transmission accordingly. In addition, their protocol has built-in redundancy to recover lost packets without the need for retransmission. The real impact is that the user sees much higher performance (higher video resolution and less buffering), which allows the app owner to better monetize their content. Because the Kwicr technology is built into the app, they monitor all traffic, whether accelerated or not. By providing this analytic data to their customers, they can set policy based on their business goals.

Kwicr says the resulting performance gains are significant and apply not only to streaming video and audio, but content loads of all kinds. In a recent test over five days, Kwicr did a side-by-side comparison of a national sports media outlet’s video player, with what they say are impressive results. During the test and in the same elapsed time as a control where Kwicr was not deployed, the company delivered a 30% improvement in throughput on average, with some devices seeing an uplift of more than 180%. Kwicr also accelerated the download time, gaining a 30% advantage and delivered a 10x improvement in the reduction of severe video stalls. During the test users were also 4k ready 39% of the time when Kwicr was on, versus 19% of the time when it was not. All of the test results reflect performance on the same network and devices. (Note: Kwicr plans to make this testing data available in the next few days)

Beyond the acceleration Kwicr delivers via its over-the-top model, it also enables app owners to gather detailed data on app traffic, making it possible to look in detail at app performance, and streaming media usage. Both are of value when determining how to best address consumers’ preferences for streaming content. Kwicr says pricing for their mobile delivery network is based on accelerated traffic and starts at $500 per month. Kwicr is also offering a complimentary 45-day trial in which app owners and developers can try them, analyze the results, and see the performance increase in content delivery first hand.

Kwicr will be presenting a talk on “The Impact of Mobile Broadband on Mobile Video” at the Content Delivery Summit, on Monday May 11th in NYC. Use discount code DR100 and get a pass for only $395.