What Is a CDN and What Is Its Purpose in Video Streaming? - StreamHash

Let’s cut right to the chase. What is a content delivery network? A content delivery network, or a CDN, is as integral to video streaming as the camera you use to capture your stream. A CDN is a technology framework that transports various forms of content, quickly and economically, to myriad nodes. These nodes could include tablets, mobiles, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and web browsers. Regardless of where you are on the internet and what kind of content you’re browsing, it’s likely that every tiny fragment of data you’re consuming is enveloped in a CDN. CDNs are designed to solve a fundamental problem that plagues virtually every netizen: latency.

Latency is the lag that exists between when you give a web page a load command and when the page actually appears. While there are several reasons behind why the latency of a page may be high, the chief one is the geographical distance between your computer and the hosting server of the web page. A CDN resolves to reduce this distance, in turn, augmenting the performance of the website in question.

If you’re at the beginning of your video broadcast journey, remember to also pick a robust, versatile framework to pair with your CDN. Regardless of your need, Streamhash’s three new technology variants are ideal for every kind of webcasting brand. With StreamView you can create your own over-the-top entertainment platform, with StreamTube, your very own YouTube, and with StreamNow, an exclusive live streaming software.

How Does a CDN Work?

We already know that a CDN attempts to reduce the physical stretch between a web server and a user. Here’s a spotlight on how it really works in two simple steps:

Step 1. Cache Content:

A CDN doesn’t always visit a website server to fetch content. Instead, it resorts to storing multiple versions of content across geographies in storage banks called caches. These caches are also known as points of presence or PoPs.

Step 2. Quality Coverage:

By arranging content across various digital regions, users are assured superlative coverage. If a French user tries to access Indian content, for example, the content needn’t be routed from India. It can simply be fetched from a local French PoP.

Who Would Need a CDN?

CDN video streaming underpins more than 50% of worldwide Internet traffic today, and the number is only rising every year. Amazingly, many CDN video streaming services are free, and wrapping your web page in an effective CDN can significantly reduce your inter-country latency. However, for users within your geography, a CDN video streaming tool could actually slow down your website. This is because it could re-route local traffic to a remote PoP, when it could link directly to a user’s computer in the vicinity. Evaluate your requirement carefully to check whether CDN video streaming could make a material difference to your website performance. Sectors that embrace CDNs wholeheartedly include advertising, media, digital gaming, e-commerce, mobile, healthcare, education and government services. CDN video streaming presents utility for a variety of stakeholders. Here’s how.

For Technology Companies:

With video playing the main lead in most companies’ communication strategy, CDN video streaming becomes a coveted tool to stay relevant in the digital space. Also, as video gravitates towards an HTTP-based model, there is a huge amount of novel, the premium content being produced by content creators. A CDN enables these owners to draw revenue, safeguard content and reduce costs.

For Customers:

Why customers, you ask? Customers needn’t be acquainted with the concept of a CDN at any stage. They don’t need to be. However, the consumer experience is intertwined with the operations of a CDN. The fact that a customer can watch a video on YouTube at any time, without worrying about the whole clip buffering at one go, is thanks to an on-demand CDN. Think about which CDN video streaming tool will fit your content format the best, in order to give your customers a world-class viewing experience.

For Content Owners:

As a content owner, you ought to know which CDN can package your content in the most compelling way. An effective CDN video streaming technology can minimize costs, present users with seamless content and create new avenues for premiumisation.

What Are the Types of CDNs?

A CDN could manifest as one of three primary classes: a general purpose CDN, an on-demand video CDN and a live video CDN. Let’s take a closer look at each of these, and why CDN video streaming may be of value to you.

General Purpose CDNs:

General purpose CDNs have existed well before the advent of video. As mentioned earlier, you’ve likely come across them on the internet while scouring a website or streaming a song on YouTube. A general purpose CDN accelerates web traffic by retrieving cached content from various regions. CDNs, although nifty in their functioning, can be tricky tools to implement. They rely on a widespread server spread, whereas the server footprint in most countries is nascent. General purpose CDNs are also challenged by language fragmentation. Language clusters within a limited geography may warrant a plethora of CDN video streaming layers to facilitate penetration across markets.

On-Demand Video CDNs:

Over the years, CDNs have evolved and new formats have emerged:

Generation 1. Direct Download:

A direct download means that a video needs to be downloaded before it can be viewed. The challenge here is that while shorter clips can be downloaded quickly, longer ones, like movies and large applications can prove cumbersome and time-consuming.

Generation 2. Progressive Download:

Think YouTube and you’ll know what a progressive download is. The medium entails a bit-by-bit download, allowing a user to begin viewing content within the first five seconds. The premise here is that the consumption and download of the content will be concurrent, with the viewer being able to watch a part of the content while the rest is being downloaded. As internet connections improve, the speed of downloads is outweighing the bitrates required to deliver standard-definition content. Thus, progressive downloads are proving to be effective and practical.

Generation 3. HTTP Streaming:

HTTP streaming is tethered to adaptive bitrate delivery. This technology works to throttle on-demand content by breaking it down into tiny bits. Then, it streams each one separately at varying bitrates to tailor a particular stream to a user’s video player.

If you pick StreamView or StreamTube to get your streaming service going, an on-demand CDN is for you.

Live Video CDNs:

Now that we know that CDNs are typically used to cache data, here’s a question. What about live streaming? Surely, you can’t cache a live stream. And you’re right, you can’t. Enter, live streaming CDNs. A live streaming CDN can be crafted to either display ultra-high bandwidth pipes to transmit content instantly to users, or low bandwidth pipes that use reflectors to accelerate content transmission. Live streaming CDNs can be costly, especially when a viewer population is likely to fluctuate and possibly, peak. Plus, live video technology may not be in continual use, meaning that costs will not be adequately recovered. Having said that, live streaming is picking up steam in most spheres. In the years to come, live streaming CDNs will likely make it to mainstream communication. StreamNow would be an ideal layer atop a live streaming CDN.

A CDN can serve as a magic fix in smoothening content transmitted to your users. Integrate a CDN into your streaming platform to see the difference. A remarkable viewing experience awaits.