CDN Mesh Delivery can be used for both live streaming and video-on-demand. All you need are viewers who are watching the same content at the same time, so it is particularly effective for large sporting events, series premieres, popular movies, and other streams with large numbers of simultaneous viewers.
This VOD platform [figure 1] delivers popular series and catch-up TV in several countries in Europe. Delivery to average audiences of more than 500,000 viewers and evening spikes of more than 1 million are common, and peer-to-peer technology helps scale infrastructure to growing audiences and improve distribution architecture by decentralizing data exchanges and allowing viewers to obtain content quickly from multiple sources.
Reliability is increased by reducing a platform’s dependence on traditional CDN architecture. If a server or CDN fails, users can continue to stream content supplied by other viewers. It also helps platforms scale. Where server infrastructures are weighed down by traffic peaks, a peer-to-peer system becomes more efficient. The more peers there are to share content, the more they can share among themselves. Platforms can use traffic spikes to their advantage, saving money and offering a better quality of service for end users.
CDN Mesh Delivery effectively shields viewers from the effects of momentary server outages or malfunctions: Peers can continue providing content to each other even if the server temporarily fails. Powerful topology-based prioritization algorithms measure viewers’ bandwidth capacities and manage segment queuing to intelligently connect peers and thereby maximize the effectiveness of the peer network. This allows us to use a part of the user’s bandwidth without compromising the user’s resources. For mobile networks with data caps, peer-to-peer is deactivated and can only be used when the device is connected to WiFi.
CDN Mesh Delivery’s peer-to-peer network is entirely controlled by centralized tracker servers that prevent unauthorized access to video streams through features such as domain restriction, geo-restriction and token authentication. All data shared over the peer-to-peer network is encrypted, files and packets are verified to avoid corruption, and information is only cached on users’ computers while they are actually watching the video.
Figure 1: Traffic from a European VOD platform Nov. 24-Dec. 4, 2018
WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) has enabled inter-browser communications and paved the way for a new generation of plugin-free peer-to-peer video delivery technologies. WebRTC provides web browsers and mobile applications real-time communication capabilities via APIs and therefore enables direct peer-to-peer video and audio communication, without the need to install plugins or download native apps.
With peer-to-peer technology, rebuffering rates [figure 2] decrease as more viewers tune in. Microcaching on devices means that more segments across all formats and bitrates are available to the network to help with faster downloads and greater local and regional capacity.
CDN Mesh Delivery’s peer-to-peer system requires a relatively low critical mass to work effectively. More peers sharing content lead to more powerful results, but it has proven valuable to platforms with only a few dozen simultaneous viewers for live streaming, and about 100 for VOD. When there are not enough peers to share content, the system automatically reverts back to original server-client architecture.
By obtaining video segments from the source that can provide them most quickly, CDN Mesh Delivery reduces round-trip time and promotes more efficient use of infrastructure. Platforms using CDN Mesh Delivery see higher average bitrates and enjoy up to three times less rebuffering than with traditional video CDN solutions.
Figure 2: Global buffering rate improvement during spikes
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