Rev Takes a New Approach To Speed Up the Mobile Last Mile

Rev_logoThe CDN market has both steadily grown and evolved over the past twenty years, but the core CDN function continues to be to deploy a network of distributed caches in order to “move the content closer to the user.” As content has also evolved to become much richer and personalized, advanced techniques such as front-end optimization (FEO) and dynamic site acceleration (DSA) have been added to deal with these demands. In recent years, attempts have been made to adapt these techniques to address the rapid shift to mobile access, with many vendors looking to solve the mobile challenge in the market. Despite these attempts, mobile web access performance remains significantly slower than wired access.

CDNs continue to focus on getting content to the edge as quickly as possible, while also relying on low latency, low packet loss inside the last mile, which is typically limited to wired connections. In the U.S. for example, web publishers will pay a traditional CDN to mitigate 70 milliseconds of coast-to-coast latency, but the mobile last mile is anything but low latency. It is both high and highly variable and can range from 30 ms to 300 ms, even in a 4G/LTE network. Rev Software, a two-year old start up has just emerged with a new service it calls, m.cdn  to deal with this challenge.

The founding team at Rev has been building high performance network systems, both wired and wireless for many years at companies such as FastSoft, Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems, Intel and others. The company has raised $4M in private funding with the goal of building a new system that was able to deal with the many variables that exist for mobile users at both the network and device level. Their result is a policy-based system that is able to both detect and respond to rapidly changing conditions in real-time.

Rev says their system is able to uniquely optimize every end-user request at both the content and network levels. When a session request arrives, a learning machine examines historic real user measurement (RUM) data collected from previous sessions and also a real-time feedback loop that runs continuously. Key session parameters are then extracted, which inform the policy controller how to dynamically set the content and network optimization resources, which are then implemented by an on-the-fly configurator. Once the content is optimized, the network optimizer, which provides the bulk of the performance benefits, adaptively accelerates content delivery over the last mile. Accelerated last mile delivery can be done asymmetrically (no changes needed to receiving end) to both browsers and mobile apps as well as symmetrically to apps via a mobile SDK.

Traditional CDNs primarily deliver content from the web publisher/content owner, however, a growing amount of web content comes from third-party sites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and various ad servers. For some sites, more than half of the content comes from third-party sites. In order to ensure that this third-party content receives the benefit of last mile acceleration, the Rev system sets up a device proxy at the edge that is able to redirect this content and accelerate the delivery of it as well.

The company says that due to the highly complex nature of its technology, a decision was made to deliver that technology in a “CDN form factor” in order to abstract that complexity from its customers. To accomplish this, a veteran of the CDN industry was recruited and key CDN features were added including caching, instant purge, DSA, WAF/DDoS, SSL, etc. and deployed over a 22 PoP global network. Rev has also built a very robust user interface portal, which includes: real-time RUM reporting, self-configuration, support for Google analytics, and integrated synthetic testing.

Another way Rev says they are unique is in the way it makes its service available to customers. Unlike its CDN competitors, who attempt to displace an incumbent, Rev can be configured as an overlay network in order to provide dynamic last mile acceleration for just the mobile users. Of course, for those companies that prefer, Rev can provide the standard CDN functions as well and the onboarding process for Rev’s m.cdn service is consistent with that of existing CDNs.

Over the past few years, a number of CDN vendors have started offering services aimed at improving mobile performance. Rev says that what truly makes them different is the fact that they are a “networking technology” company that is addressing the mobile last mile latency at the network level. They claim to be providing up to 2X increase in end-to-end mobile performance for both mobile browsers and apps, when compared to the customer’s existing solution. It will be interesting to see if actual customers agree and how the incumbents respond. Rev came out of beta in October and are now in general availability and currently have around 20 customers.

Chart Shows Limitations Of TV Everywhere Services From Cable/Satellite Providers

Sling Media has a new chart out highlightning just how limited TV Everywhere services are from DIRECTV, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Optimum. While it’s part of a new marketing campaign (www.dontgetcwap.com) geared to push people to purchase a Slingbox, they make a good point. Five years after some of the cable companies announced they would offer TV Everywhere services, these services as a whole are still very limited in support for channels, functionality and devices. Getting a Slingbox is still the only true way to get your full channel lineup on all your devices. It’s the one device I would not want to live without. Amazon has the Slingbox 350 for $90 and the Slingbox M1 for $135.

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Tuesday Webinar – Learn How To Deliver Video Globally & Manage Locally

Tomorrow (Dec. 2nd) at 9am ET, I’ll be moderating another StreamingMedia.com webinar, this time on the topic of, “Deliver Video Globally, Manage Locally.” As global video consumption brings us closer, content owners and distributors are aggressively attempting to reach more audiences in new geographies. However, these same content owners and distributors must grapple with the requirements to manage content at a local level due to content rights, device limitations, different network conditions and government regulations.

The technologies and solutions to manage these needs are complex and broad. Companies need to consider specific rights requirements, delivery methods and device playback as the major parts of a solution. Those parts then require tools that run the gamut of rules such as creative licenses, video expiration dates, video quality, release windows, security, DRM, geoblocking, advertising rights, IP address verification, multiple languages and user authentication.

Join Akamai and Kaltura as they present the integrated solution and examples that allow media companies and broadcasters to deliver content globally while creating personalised experiences for these audiences as well as maintaining controls adhering to local terms. You can sign up for the webinar for free and bring your questions for the Q&A portion of the event.

Streaming Media West Conference Presentations Now Online

IMG_3037Thanks to everyone who made it out to the Streaming Media West show in Huntington Beach last week. We had packed rooms, hands-on workshops, great how-to sessions and tons of data and information was shared by speakers. The beer garden and networking events were a bit hit and we’ll be back at the same venue for next year’s event. Most of the presentations from the event can now be found online, on the day 1 and day 2 program pages. We’re working on getting all of the videos online and expect them to be up around December 1st. If you need any post show help, please reach out to me at anytime.

Video Transcoding Market Growing 20%, SaaS & Cloud Based Offerings 3x That

Frost and Sullivan has just released its comprehensive analysis of the media and entertainment video transcoders market and not surprisingly, one of the key findings is that software and the cloud are quickly reshaping future design choices in this once hardware-centric industry. Cloud considerations are playing a strong role in influencing product roadmaps and investment decisions for vendors and customers alike.

This is a significant shift in an industry that was once very much hardware-centric, and where even software has only recently gained widespread market trust. While cloud-based transcoding has traditionally been the domain of smaller start-ups and focused on lower value media such as user generated content, the past two years have seen a surge of professional-grade, high-reliability applications. This has been driven by operator need to cope with exploding content volumes and growing QoE expectations on the one hand, and vendor ability to deliver falling costs coupled with improved automation and reliability on the other. (see our quantitative findings here)

The overall M&E video transcoding market is forecast to grow at a healthy 20% CAGR, but revenues derived from SaaS and cloud-based offerings are expected to grow at more than thrice this rate. Accordingly, transcoder vendors who have not done so already urgently need to build, buy or partner to add credible and competitive cloud-based aspects to their product lines.

Accordingly, we have seen a number of quiet deals made in recent months. Harmonic, a leading vendor in the space who won much of their early advantage on the strength of hardware appliances, was the lead investor in Encoding.com’s recently announced $3.5M Series B round. Other recent significant transactions include:

  • Haivision acquired Kulabyte, lending a much-needed cloud angle to their traditionally hardware-based business
  • Brightcove acquired Zencoder at an ambitious valuation, emphasizing the importance of the role cloud-based transcoding plays in OTT video
  • Wowza acquired Camfoo and leveraged this to release a cloud-based transcoder plug-in to an enthusiastic client base
  • Verizon acquired Uplynk who brought considerable experience and expertise in cloud-based workflows to the table
  • Microsoft is closely partnered with iStreamPlanet, who provides – among other components – high density cloud-based transcoding capability
  • Ericsson partnered with Elemental to offer a broader choice across software and cloud form factors to its customers

Many other key vendors have diversified organically into the cloud. Envivio has been a long-time provider of cloud-based live transcoding functionality which complements its encoding and transcoding appliances. Digital Rapids (acquired by Imagine Communications earlier this year) built their cloud-based automated workflow platform Kayak in anticipation of a shift away from hardware and fixed components towards reconfigurable and software-defined architectures. Imagine Communications, the re-imagined (no pun intended) Harris Broadcast, has been a highly vocal proponent of software and cloud-based workflows in the past year, aggressively moving away from a siloed hardware approach towards a far more open, and far more future-proof, architecture. Elemental announced a cloud-based product this year, and Telestream is facilitating hybrid and cloud-based deployments of its enterprise-grade workflow platform.

While the M&E community has been more aggressively growing on the cloud front, the enterprise community is slowly but surely catching up as well. Longtime market leader VBrick has made several forays into the cloud this year, and Haivision is aggressively embracing cloud as part of its global growth strategy. Preliminary results from our upcoming analysis of the Enterprise Video Encoders and Transcoders Market are currently available to subscribers; the full study is scheduled for publication in December. The rate of adoption of the cloud (whether in private data centers, via Infrastructure as a Service or through Software as a Service) is lower on the enterprise side than on the media and entertainment side, but is is poised to grow steadily nonetheless.

For additional details on Frost & Sullivan’s multiple reports on the video transcoding market, you can contact Avni Rambhia, the lead analyst on the reports.