Scaling your Video Streaming with Multicast, Video Caching or P2P
Video has become more and more popular for live entertainment and business communication. Whether it be for Town Hall Meetings, conferences, team events or virtual training sessions – the use cases are practically endless and ever evolving. However, delivering a live stream to a large number of people is often problematic and can be a challenge to the network. Problems might show up in low video quality, long buffering times, accessibility issues or even break-downs. The reason is obvious: the more people joining a livestream the more bandwidth is needed to deliver a high quality streaming experience.
So, how can you tackle these challenges?
The answer is integrating an enterprise Content Delivery Network – or in short eCDN – which optimizes data distribution within corporate networks.
This blogpost explains the three different eCDN technologies Multicast, Video Caching and P2P. While the technical approaches are different, all three eCDNs have the same goal: scaling your video communication while simultaneously securing the performance of your network.
When talking about one-to-many communication, Multicast is one solution for the transmission of a single stream to numerous users. To make use of this type of eCDN the network must be multicast-enabled. The approach here is that the sender retrieves live stream data from a video source and sends it out via the multicast-enabled network. Through the use of receiver software, the viewers are able to pick up the stream. By installing additional senders within the network the generated traffic and therefore the needed bandwidth can be predicted and reduced considerably.
Other benefits of Multicast are the centralized handling, optimized performance due to the elimination of traffic redundancy and therefore scalability.
The use of Multicast is suitable for large live video streams and is particularly beneficial in an environment that is already multicast-enabled. For video on-demand however, this eCDN technology is not ideal.
Video Caching eCDN
The concept of Video Caching works as follows: As soon as the first viewer requests the video stream, the cache retrieves the streaming data from the original video source and then stores a local copy of it for following users joining the stream. In doing so not only the volume of the video data moving from the original source to the viewer is reduced but also the distance the video is traveling then which leads to less traffic as well as less buffering and latency.
Besides the fact that it works for livestreaming just as well as for video on-demand the solution also doesn’t require a client to be installed and supports any device that is able to stream from the original source.
A P2P (Peer-to-Peer) eCDN establishes connections between the devices streaming the video content. Once a user requests video content the system checks for available peers to deliver the content from. If an applicable peer is found, the content will be provided to the user without connecting to the original server. If not, the system will connect to the origin source. This way devices can cache and share video data, as they are streaming the same content at the same time.
Thanks to this approach, requests to the origin server are significantly reduced which leads to bandwidth savings of up to 95% – resulting in a stable, high-quality video stream. The best part: The network can grow dynamically, and is unlimited in its scalability.
An additional advantage is that this solution can be implemented in any network regardless of the given infrastructure. Therefore, it is ideal to use within corporate networks with limited network infrastructure or those that do not allow changes to the network.
Combination of eCDN technologies
It can also make sense for your individual scenario to make use of a combination of different types of an eCDN. For example, for a multicast-enabled headquarters you might use Multicast as your eCDN, while employees in regional offices or other locations could use a Video Cache or P2P eCDN solution.
An enterprise Content Delivery Network allows you to deliver high-quality, scalable live video streams at minimum bandwidth requirements. While in situations where you have a high number of employees in one location, Video Cache or Multicast (when Multicast-enabled) might be the right solution, whereas a P2P eCDN is especially suitable for an environment with limited network infrastructure.
Eventually, making the right decision for the type of eCDN is based on your individual network structure and on the way you are using video now as well as the use cases you are planning to deliver in the future. As described earlier, in a lot of cases a combination of different eCDNs is also an appropriate solution.