Western European premium content owners plan to greatly accelerate their content distribution (CDN) workflows by 2022. With CDNs set to be the top media technology in the minds of enterprises, get prepared, and learn from the experiences of a panel of experts.
This IBC365 webinar features a wide-ranging session on a complex subject but moderator Omdia’s Kedar Mohite, keeps the structure straightforward. After the introductions, and a couple of slides to set up the context of how the European CDN markets are evolving, there are in-depth presentations from all the speakers, followed by a panel discussion.
- Kedar Mohite, principal consultant, India, Omdia
- Carlos Octavio, head of architecture and analytics for Globo
- Steve Miller-Jones, vice president of product strategy at Limelight Networks,
- Paul Tweedy, lead architect, Online Technology Group at BBC Design + Engineering
- Bhavesh Patel, global digital director, beIN MEDIA GROUP
A study recently conducted by Omdia aims to understand which of the technologies across around across the media value chain are among the top priorities of companies. “This year, almost 33% of the interviewees highlighted that CDN is one of the top three IT projects in the next 18 months,” says Mohite while displaying slides. “It’s not necessarily like CDN has never been out of [focus], but it’s been the fourth, fifth, or the sixth in line, but this year, it’s in the top three.”
Mohite predicts that next year it’s going to be the top media technology in the minds of enterprises. The study also showed that 40% of global premium content owners are planning to aggressively invest into their content distribution workflows, while the picture for Europe is even more interesting. “71% of Western European premium content owners plan to accelerate their content distribution workflow by 2022,” says Mohite.
Also interesting, particularly for vendors, is the prediction that the overall European CDN spend is going to reach close to $7bn in 2023. While that’s a combination of video and non-video spend, and includes all services and platforms, Mohite, says that a major component is still going to be through solutions such as media delivery, security, performance acceleration, edge, and CDN infrastructure software optimisation.
“That’s across the board – digital service providers, pureplay OTT operators, publishing, gaming – because everyone’s moving towards the next generation direct to consumer OTT,” he says.
The presentations follow, with Carlos Octavio, head of architecture and analytics for Globo saying how, with Brazil being so large, and consumer experience being key in a direct to consumer offering, it decided to implement a multi-CDN strategy. But, says Octavio, Globo decided to develop its own CDN, evolving the footprint “since the commercial CDN services do not have the footprint that we think is necessary to deliver the key customer experiences”.
“Our own CDN matches the best performance of commercial CDNs available in our market,” he adds. “So using third party [services] with our own CDN was key to improving the customer experience and the performance and we will invest in growing that to have the footprint [we require].”
Commenting on this hybrid model, Mohite says some data in the European market shows there is a push towards “running your own CDN and your micro points of presence to basically not just accelerate your quality of service and quality of experience, but at some point in time lower your overall TCO as well”.
The presentation from Bhavesh Patel, global digital director, beIN Media Group, which takes over 65 linear TV networks and puts them out over OTT platforms in 43 countries. The company takes a multi CDN approach as being “a global framework, we work with every CDN that can help us reach in a high-quality fashion to our end user customers”, says Patel. “I think in the next six to 12 months we’ll see a lot of focus on bringing down latency, where it’s possible as a full system-wide feature… we’re looking at seeing how we can do that at scale,” he says.
The other focus is on continually adapting beIN’s ABR ladders, “so that we can have quality presentation as more and more of our customer base shifts to the 50-60 inch screen in the home as their primary viewing device from an OTT service, while until now much of it was driven by the need to just be portable with your content,” he says. “Now it’s shifting right back into the home, predominantly with sports content.”
Patel also covered content protection, and this point was picked up by Mohite. “taking pirates out at the edge is I think one of one of the pretty interesting new developments which CDNs are trying to leverage,” he reveals.
Paul Tweedy, lead architect, Online Technology Group at BBC Design + Engineering is next, giving a flavour of what the broadcaster is working on in terms of content delivery and what its relationships with CDNs are. “Our focus has been to be on as many devices or platforms as we can,” he says. “Live streaming and IP media is a big, big focus for all these [services]. There’s an expectation, because we come from a traditional broadcasting background at our core, that we are equal in quality, in terms of our IP delivery and our streaming delivery, to our audiences as it is used to on our traditional broadcast platforms.”
With the BBC pursuing a multi-CDN approach for over 10 years, and its ultimate goal is to move from traditional broadcast distribution to everything over IP. Tweedy reveals that as well as its own UK-focussed CDN, BBC Internet Distribution Infrastructure (BIDI), the BBC also makes use of third-party CDNs for resilience and failover purposes.
Paul Tweedy, BBC Design + Engineering: “for live we’ve moving from a pull model to a push model, pushing the media into the CDN for delivery”
In an comprehensive presentation, Tweedy covers everything from moving from transmitters ‘sticks on hills’, to IP delivery and the BBC IP Glidepath strategy, from measuring CDN performance to the challenge of live events and simulcast.
He says of the latter: “You can be dependent on a very small part of that architecture for distribution to millions and millions of people… so for live we’ve moving from a pull model to a push model, pushing the media into the CDN for delivery. We hope that that’s going to be ready for next year in order for us to help us deliver these [live and news] events at scale, but not be quite so brittle in terms of the ability to withstand individual component failures.”
Serving the service providers
Mohite picks up on the topics of IP migration and the quality of service offered by a multi-CDN approach, before introducing Steve Miller-Jones, vice president of product strategy at Limelight Networks, one of the leading CDN providers.
Miller-Jones says Limelight is moving to enable the operational teams and the development groups of customers to work with the services that it provides. He briefly touches on three such initiatives that are important to the CDN narrative at the moment, the first being the ability to customise how the CDN works.
Steve Miller-Jones, Limelight Networks: ‘Shared objects… effectively provides a data channel, so that you can share information between the audience during live streaming’
“[Edge Functions] is a service that allows our customers to write small functions, just single-purpose pieces of code, bring them to the CDN and deploy them there to run as content is distributed through the CDN,” he says.
The next is a developer portal “a developer portal if you like,” says Miller-Jones. “A space where people can come and explore our APIs, joining a community of code. We republished a lot of our SDKs in there as well. We really see that CDN is a core part of an operational process and engaging with the development group there is really important.”
The third thing Limelight has been focusing on is building services aimed at reducing latency in live video. “We have [service] updates related to how content is ingested, more adaptive bitrate control, and also introduces the use of shared objects, which effectively provides a one to many data channel, and a many to many data channel, so that you can share information between the audience during live streaming.”
Miller-Jones also touches on live push ingest, a service designed to help ensure the content can get distributed into the CDN, which slightly changes the behaviour of how the CDN operates with the content producer.
A round-table discussion follows these insights, covering topics such as the important factors or functionalities the panellists look for in a CDN vendor, and how they are leveraging AI and data to build the next generation content distribution workflows.