What is a CDN and how can it optimize video streaming quality and scalability?

StriveCast Blog

Quick definition - What does CDN mean?

CDN, stands for Content Delivery Network, which typically describes a group of servers that deliver content via the Internet. CDNs are optimized to realize higher speed, scalability, and better availability than you would be able to achieve with a single server scenario.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) explained

CDN, meaning Content Delivery Networks, consists of servers working together to provide fast delivery of HTTP content via the Internet. In a CDN, the sending server connects with a group of cache servers (Points of Presence, PoPs) that store the information which needs to be distributed. If a new user requests data, it is delivered by one of the cache servers, which is logically and geographically closer to the user.

This means that a) the origin server’s load is reduced, as it doesn’t have to deal with this request, and b) the user gets the content faster.

Content Delivery Networks are typically used to deliver web content. For example:

  • HTML pages
  • Javascript files
  • Stylesheets
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Audio

 

Today, the majority of web traffic is caused by CDNs. Especially pages with a high amount of daily, business-critical traffic rely on CDNs to distribute their web content. Take, for example, Amazon, Facebook, or Netflix. Fast delivery of content is crucial for them and the way they do business.

what is a cdn, What is a CDN and how can it optimize video streaming quality and scalability?

Variations of Content Delivery Networks

Multi CDN

Using a Multi CDN approach means using several CDN providers. This way, content is distributed even faster as presence is increased, and the origin server mainly distributes the content to the different CDNs or PoPs. Having a multi CDN approach is also a natural backup and serves redundancy, in case one CDN provider goes offline for a while.

P2P CDN

Better together: Collectively delivering media. In a P2P CDN, the users directly distribute content among each other without having to send requests to the server. In detail, StriveCast’s P2P CDN works by connecting the users via WebRTC without the need for a plugin to be installed on the user’s device. When a user requests content, the system first checks for available peers within the network to fetch the content from. If this is the case, the content will be provided without connecting to the original server. You can read more about P2P CDNs here.

How a CDN works for live video streaming

The primary purpose of a CDN is that content doesn’t have to be sent by the origin server again and again. Instead, the requested content can be stored and loaded in so-called PoPs (groups of caching servers), which serve as middlemen between the sending server and the requester.

How a CDN distributes content – easy step by step explanation:

This way, the origin server is not overwhelmed by the sheer amount of simultaneous requests, ensuring a reliable and stable content distribution.

Benefits of using a CDN

It’s all about performance: Studies state that 53% of website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. Positively said, for every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed, a company’s customer base saw a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion. A CDN enables the fast delivery of website content. Here are some more benefits you should know:

  • Faster loading times
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Increased stability
  • Lower costs for self-hosting
  • Further analysis options (through statistics from the CDN provider)
  • Global accessibility

Content Delivery Networks for streaming purposes

Live streaming is a real challenge for content delivery: During a live video stream, the content that needs to be delivered is non-static and can’t be cached upon request, but needs to be distributed in real-time. Every second, entirely new content is created, and the old content becomes obsolete.

For live streaming and webcast applications, the Quality of Experience is especially crucial to the audience. This includes the following factors:

  • Streaming quality
  • Buffering / Latency times
  • Flawless streaming

However, precisely these factors suffer when companies or organizations want to deliver live streams to a larger audience as the requirements are hard to meet. A classic content delivery network could be a solution, but some obstacles might still be in the way:

(Uncontrollable) CDN costs

Content Delivery Networks are expensive. You usually pay per GB or TB, so prices do not appear that high at first sight. However, if you have a high number of viewers watching a live stream, costs can rapidly go up. Depending on the video quality, a one-hour live stream can consume up to 7 GB. If you are delivering to a broader audience like >1000 users, paying per GB can thus increase costs tremendously. Check out this CDN cost calculator to see how much you would pay.

Scalability

More viewers usually mean more servers distributed in the locations you want to serve. As your audience grows, the higher the risk that servers could hit their limits.

Trust in servers​

When opting for a CDN solution, external servers will be delivering your content.

One-time usage

Maybe you only need the benefits of a CDN once, for example, for streaming a single event. Most CDN providers, however, do not offer individual event support but ask for a larger commitment.

Here’s where StriveCast’s streaming technology steps in:

Unlimited Scalability

StriveCast’s technology builds a P2P (peer to peer) CDN. You do not have to rely on (several) servers distributing your live stream. Instead, the users themselves serve as distributors. They are grouped based on their geolocation, Internet Service Provider, and other logical connections. Once one user in a group has already downloaded a part of the content, other users within the same group won’t have to request it from the server but can directly get it from the one user that already has it. The ultimate benefit: The more users, the faster and more reliable your network gets, resulting in unlimited scalability.

One time set-up for more flexibility

As you don’t need any infrastructure, StriveCast also offers one-time, event-based solutions for setting-up live streams. There is no long-term commitment required.

Reduce your costs

StriveCasts solutions save up to 95% bandwidth. And if you already have a CDN in place, you can reduce up to 75% of your CDN costs using StriveCast’s P2P approach.

Are you searching for a video streaming solution?

We are happy to help you overcome your live streaming challenges!
Contact us for a free demo or more information:

About StriveCast

StriveCast is a leading technology provider for eCDN solutions. Our WebRTC-based P2P mesh network is used by large companies like Swisscom, Siemens, Gazprom, and NEP group to solve the problem of network congestion during live events. Based in Germany, we are constantly improving and adapting our cutting-edge P2P technology in order to provide the next generation of enterprise video delivery. Today, StriveCast connects over 150,000 users worldwide on a daily basis, saving customers up to 95% of CDN traffic with a unique server-side-managed Peer-To-Peer network.

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