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In the Limelight Blog

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Deliver your content better and faster, with minimum effort, and save money

 

The majority of all internet traffic is now delivered using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) – video, websites, file downloads, games, web stores and more. You may already be using a CDN to provide faster response and more consistent quality than the open internet. Could it be even better? At lower cost?

 

Read on. You'll learn about:

  1. The weakest link in many CDN delivery chains
  2. Proven techniques that offer dramatic improvements
  3. How to gain substantial benefits while reducing cost 

 

What’s the weak link in CDN delivery?

Weakest link in a chain

Billions of times every day, one critical component in content delivery is exposed. It's not something many people think about much. Yet it's often the weakest link in the content delivery chain. When it's exposed, quality of experience can drop suddenly. Those fast response times can suddenly become long waits. That consistent quality can suddenly become consistently bad. 

 

This weak link gets exposed every time someone requests content that isn't found close to them, in the edge cache. When that happens, the CDN needs to retrieve the content from origin storage. And that retrieval from origin storage is often the weak link in the delivery chain.

 

 light bulbTo learn more, please see Feeding the On-Demand Beast

 

 

Stopwatch

 

When content is in edge cache, response time is often measured in tens of milliseconds.

 

Response time to retrieve from origin storage is far more variable. Yes, origin storage can also respond in tens of milliseconds – if it's high-performance, distributed, and well-integrated with the CDN. But with ordinary cloud storage, response time can be hundreds or even thousands of milliseconds.

 

Today's audience is far too impatient for ordinary storage.

 

What's the solution for CDN origin storage?

The highest-performance, lowest-cost solution is detailed in the next two sections.

  • In this section, we'll briefly highlight some techniques to improve response time and throughput from origin storage. 
  • In the next section, you'll learn how to enjoy the benefits of these best-practices techniques for less than you'd pay for ordinary storage

 

Limelight has spent years developing the optimal origin storage specifically and uniquely for CDN workflows. Here are some of the techniques employed, and the associated benefits. 

 

92-200% faster than ordinary cloud storage 

Limelight Origin Storage Services are really, really fast. Your users may not even notice a difference vs. delivery out of cache. How is it so fast? It isn't easy. One key technique is borrowed from CDN cache design: locate multiple storage instances of content close to where your users are – except Limelight does it with origin storage, and does it automatically based on policies you select. Another key technique is to tightly integrate the storage within the CDN itself, often even in the same racks as the edge cache devices. Talk about fast retrieval!  

zoom

Automatically accelerate the exact content your users value

Who doesn't love to maximize benefit with minimum effort? We call this technique Intelligent Ingest. It was complex for Limelight to implement, but for you? Just switch it on. Next time a user requests content that isn’t in the CDN, it’s automatically retrieved from current origin and delivered – and also stored in Limelight Origin Storage. Future requests will be much faster. Listen to your customers, and give them what they want -- automatically. 

listen to your audience

 

100% availability at no extra cost

An unexpected outage means full-on panic, drop everything, call the gang and tell them you're not coming home. Limelight uses multiple techniques to provide 100% availability.  Triple redundancy, and always in separate regions so even a major regional outage isn't an issue. Automatic retrieval from the fastest of the redundant locations. And automatic high-speed failover if a location does go down. And there's no extra cost for all that protection. 

chain

 

 

 light bulbTo learn more, please see  The Next Generation of Origin Storage 

 

 

And the list goes on. When it comes to CDN Origin Storage, nobody beats Limelight Origin Storage Services.

 

Yes, it's a premium offering -- or is it?

 

You MUST read the final section!

 

Lower cost than ordinary storage

 

In a bold move, Limelight recently announced a program that makes its superior origin storage lower cost than ordinary storage.

 

money

There are two components of the program that make this lower cost possible:

  1. Price matching. Limelight will match the effective rate that companies are currently paying for their origin storage. Even though the Limelight Origin Storage solution offers superior performance, availability, and CDN automation features, Limelight is willing to match price with current offerings. And don't worry -- Limelight will offer competitive pricing even If you're not able to take advantage of price matching. 
  2. 60 days no-cost risk-free trial of Limelight Origin Storage. With no obligation, unlimited storage capacity is available at no cost. Adding 60 days of free storage to a price match translates to lower overall cost. 

 

To streamline the content migration, Limelight is even offering free assistance. Both modes of Intelligent Ingest will be provided at no cost. In addition to Load on Demand mode mentioned above, Manifest mode allows ingest based on a list of files to upload. In addition, Limelight is offering a no-cost expert consultation to help get you smoothly on your way.

 

 light bulbTo learn more, please see Limelight Networks Offers Its Industry-Leading CDN Origin Storage Risk Free

 

 

Get better performance, make life easier – and save

It turns out, the weakest link in many CDN delivery chains is origin storage. The drop in performance can be significant, seriously impacting Quality of Experience – but it doesn't need to be that way. Limelight Origin Storage fixes the weak link, with proven techniques that offer dramatic improvements in performance and availability, while making life easier for you. And now, you can get premium origin storage for less than you'd pay for ordinary storage. 

 

light bulbClick here to learn more about the no-risk free trial, price matching, and more.

 

summary image

The make-or-break holiday sales rush is just around the corner.  With ecommerce accounting for an increasingly larger share of the retail pie, there’s no leeway for technology glitches.

 

 

With the holiday shopping season almost here, ecommerce retailers need to make sure their websites are ready to deliver.  Limelight’s 5 Tips to Prepare Your Website for the Holiday Shopping Season provides an overview of the steps ecommerce retailers need to take to prepare. 

 

Scaling to Meet Demand

Scalability and high performance are at the top of the list of must-haves.  Every year, the media highlights website outages at major retailers who were unable to meet peak holiday demand.  Load testing of back-end systems prior to the increased holiday demand will ensure you are able to continue generating revenue during the busiest time of the year without disruption. 

 

Security

Website security also needs to be an important element of any ecommerce strategy.  Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are a growing threat from malicious attackers who want to take down websites, particularly during high-profile events and key times of the year.  In addition, hackers are increasingly targeting sensitive customer data such as credit card information.  The impact to an online retailer who has been hacked goes far beyond the costs of remediating the security breach.  The loss of reputation will impact future sales, as customers wonder whether the retailer can be trusted in the future.

 

Optimize for Mobile

With so many shoppers using mobile devices to research products and make online purchases, websites need to be optimized for mobile retail to ensure content loads quickly and correctly on any device.  Most consumers expect websites to load just as fast on a mobile device as on a desktop or laptop computer according to Limelight’s State of the User Experience report.  To maximize revenue, your web site needs to deliver the best possible retail experience on any device. 

 

A Platform for Ecommerce Success

The Limelight Orchestrate Platform provides a comprehensive set of tools to help you deliver a compelling e-tail experience.  Check this list, and check it twice to ensure a successful 2017 retail holiday season.

People around the world are rapidly shifting their video viewing online, and preference for accessing their favorite content is quickly changing as well. Important insights on this shift and more are available in Limelight’s just released “State of Online Video” consumer research report. 

 

Our latest global survey of online video viewing includes responses from 500 people each in France, Germany, India, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, U.K., and the U.S.  The data shows online video viewing has grown 34% since last year’s survey.  That’s rapid growth.  Highlights from the report include:

 

  • People are now watching an average of 5 hours and 45 minutes per week of online video.  Those numbers are even higher in India, Singapore and the U.S. where people are watching 7 hours, 7 minutes; 6 hours, 37 minutes; and 6 hours, 35 minutes per week, respectively. 

  • Younger viewers watch more online video each week than older viewers.  Millennials watch more than 7 hours each week, while people aged 60+ watch 3 hours 46 minutes per week.  Men watch an average of 6 hours 10 minutes per week while women average only 5 hours 20 minutes per week.
  • While globally, people use a computer or laptop as their primary viewing device, smartphones are being used more than ever.  In fact, smartphones are the primary viewing device for people in India and South Korea as well as with viewers aged 35 and under. 

  • When it comes to watching streaming video on a television, there are lots of options.  More than 32% of viewers use a Smart TV with built-in streaming capabilities for online viewing.  More than 20% use Google Chromecast and set-top boxes or DVD players for online streaming.  Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and video game consoles are also used by many people worldwide.
  • Online Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) services are becoming more popular, with the average global online viewer subscribing to 1.08 services.  However, those numbers are much higher in the US (1.67) and India (1.63), and lower in France (0.71) and Germany (0.83).

  • Despite all of the concerns about people “cutting the cord” and moving exclusively to online streaming, our survey showed cable and satellite television subscribers have twice as many SVoD subscriptions as non-cable subscribers. 

  • Rebuffering remained the top frustration with online video viewing, with 21.6% of people saying they will stop watching a video the first time it re-buffers.  That is up from 7.9% of viewers in last year’s survey.  After the second rebuffer, you lose another 39.8% of viewers, meaning 61% of your viewers are gone if a video rebuffers twice.  Only 15.3% of people will continue watching after the third rebuffer.

 

So, what does this all mean?  Consumers are watching a lot more online video, using lots of different devices, and have very high expectations.  You need to deliver the best online viewing experiences, even on mobile devices in regions where mobile networks may not provide the most reliable bandwidth and latencies.  That’s why Limelight continues to invest in developing purpose-built software and services, rather than relying on third-party components that cannot be tuned for the unique challenges of global content delivery.  By continually monitoring a user’s connection and optimizing how content is delivered based upon real-time analysis, viewers can stream videos at a higher quality while also experiencing fewer re-buffers.

 

Limelight delivers the lowest rebuffer rates in the industry – and we guarantee it.  Try Limelight video delivery for free for 90 days to see for yourself.  If we don’t improve your video rebuffer rates by 10% or more, you pay nothing. 

 

Let us help you deliver the best online viewing experiences.

Delivering low latency live streams is essential for live sports, online gaming and just about anyone who wants to offer a great online video experience.  In this blog, I’ll address innovative ways that Limelight is solving this problem now and will in the near future.  To take a close look at the importance here, check out this blog where I discussed the business drivers for complementing live TV sports broadcasts with live streaming, and the challenges presented in delivering live streams with low latency so that viewers can experience the event in near real-time. Also, check out the recent Limelight press release for more details.

 

Challenges Delivering Internet Video Streaming at Low-Latency

Typical latencies delivering HLS or DASH over the internet are in the 30 second to one minute range. This is because of HTTP-based protocols which stream chunks of data. Because each chunk is generated and viewed in real-time, chunk size is a significant part of latency. For example, the default HLS chunk size is 10 seconds, and three chunks are created before delivery begins, leading to a delivery latency of up to 45 seconds when CDN ingesting, transcoding, distance between source and viewer, and delivery are factored in.

 

What is Limelight Doing to Lower Live Streaming Latency?

An obvious approach to lowering latency is to reduce the chunk size. This is exactly what we have done. To provide deployment flexibility, Limelight offers two small chunk size solutions. The first is Multi-Media device Delivery (MMD) Live small chunk streaming, and is targeted at organizations that want Limelight to handle transcoding. RTMP live streams are ingested and transcoded to HLS or DASH with 1 second size chunks, and delivered to users with total latency of around 6 seconds. This latency is adequate for many use cases.

 

The second solution, Video Acceleration, is a configuration option in the Content Delivery Service which is designed to accelerate the delivery of very small video chunks, and dynamic manifest files (see more about video delivery services here). This capability benefits organizations that do their own transcoding, and deliver HLS and DASH live streams from their own infrastructure that the Limelight CDN uses as origin for cache fill. Because transcoded chunks are ingested, the CDN will zip the chunks across the network to the edge for delivery in milliseconds to the last mile networks. This will reduce live streaming latency down to about 5 seconds, a significant improvement over existing HLS and DASH live streaming delivery solutions. There are several successful in-production deployments of both MMD Live small chunk streaming and Video Acceleration that satisfy use case latency requirements.

 

What’s Next?

The industry focus on solutions to replace Adobe’s upcoming end-of-life for Flash for low-latency streaming is a technology called WebRTC (Web Real-time Communication), which is supported by all the popular browsers. Limelight is partnering with Red5 Pro to develop and implement WebRTC-based low-latency live video streaming across our global content delivery network. By integrating WebRTC streaming support into the CDN, content distributors will be able to easily implement scalable live video streaming workflows such as gambling, gaming, and sports broadcasting that require the lowest possible latency. Viewers will finally be able to watch broadcast quality live streaming video as close to real-time as possible. Limelight is active in evaluating this technology, with the promise of providing even lower latency than our current MMD Live small chunk streaming and Video Acceleration. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting development.

 

Target Use Cases for Low-Latency Streaming

Video Acceleration is applicable in these scenarios:

  •      Simulcast Live Sports Events – Reduce the latency difference between a TV broadcast and the online stream delivery
  •      Live OTT Sports Events – Consistent viewing experience across multi-devices for non-simulcast delivery
  •      eSports (Online Live Gaming) – Scaling the delivery of low-latency live video delivery to large audiences
  •      Gambling and Betting – Ensuring a consistent low latency experience to users across a range of devices

 

                                                                                        

 

The gambling use case for low latency streaming has two important considerations. The most obvious is to deliver consistent low latency to online players, so they all see the action in near realtime on any device, anywhere they are. For the online casino, if the latency to players is reduced, it speeds play, resulting in more dealing rounds and increased revenue.

 

More to Come

If you are attending IBC 2017 in Amsterdam Sept. 15-19, visit the Limelight stand in Hall 14 G01 to learn more from our online video experts. As we proceed through live evaluations of WebRTC, there will be updates covered in future blogs.

On August 21, 2017, millions of Americans took part in America’s big space event – the total solar eclipse. It was first time in almost 100 years that a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast, and the first time in 38 years that one has been visible anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

 

It was also the first total eclipse in the age of the Internet, with NASA live streaming the event to huge success. At the midpoint of its live stream, NASA reported that there were 4.4 million viewers, making the eclipse the most viewed event in the agency’s history.

 

Limelight was hard at work to make sure everyone could watch it. Together with our customer InfoZen and other vendors (including our competitors), we helped NASA live stream the eclipse event to audiences around the globe at www.nasa.gov/eclipselive.

 

Limelight was also responsible for NASA website delivery, working closely with InfoZen leading up to the event to optimize the website, pinpoint issues that might affect scaling, and tune its CDN configuration to ensure that NASA servers were not overwhelmed on the day of the event. The result? The NASA website was stable, fast, and responsive throughout this historical event.

 

Some interesting facts from Limelight’s perspective: 

  • The top five states with the most viewers were California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York.
  • Analyzing viewership from the states that were in the line of the eclipse, Wyoming represented the smallest number of viewers with just 0.18% tuning into the live stream.
  • Notably, each of the states that were on the eclipse’s course individually contributed less than 2% of viewership to the live stream – showing that people who had the opportunity, opted to catch the action in person.
  • Companies manufactured more than 40 million eclipse glasses for the event. If eclipse glasses were bits, Limelight has capacity to deliver that amount every 1.6 microseconds.

 

For many people today, streaming isn’t just the more convenient option – it’s a critical resource for “accessing the world,” providing a new medium to view everything from educational materials to historical events. Going forward, it’s more important than ever that the right technologies are in place to effectively support the growing demand for live streamed content, allowing every citizen to be part of one of the biggest moments in history. 

Does your business deliver online content? There can be great value in gaining insights into content usage, how users are interacting with that content, and the systems that manage and deliver the content. Analytics can help provide insights that are informational, actionable, or both.

 

Limelight Edge Analytics

 

Limelight’s growing Limelight Edge Analytics portfolio helps customers manage their content delivery and optimize Quality of Experience for their users. Businesses can understand usage patterns, load-balance their delivery network, anticipate and manage peak traffic, manage content libraries, minimize cost, optimize for location or time of day, and much more.

 

Limelight Edge Analytics is founded on multi-dimensional data gathering, aggregation, computation and presentation. This next-generation approach is far superior to the traditional approach of simply laying out individual reports on a dashboard or providing log files for your own business to make sense of.

 

Several recent additions to Limelight Edge Analytics help highlight Limelight’s fresh approach.

 

Custom Queries

 

Limelight Custom Queries help you understand your traffic, content, application, and user behavior to increase revenue opportunities. Create tailor-made data collection queries for correlation and analysis within Limelight Edge Analytics to better understand your business performance. In addition to the wealth of data already gathered and presented in Limelight’s standard reports & reporting API, Custom Queries provide customized and targeted access via EdgeQueryTM to the trove of raw log data within the Limelight Orchestrate Platform.

 

EdgeQueryTM, Limelight’s real-time analytics platform. enables real time data calculation, commutation, and aggregation as well as presentation of data about your content storage, traffic, content, application, and user behavior. EdgeQuery is Limelight’s patented software that collects, aggregates, and stores data about service usage.  This data is available in Limelight's standard reports or through customized access or "queries".

 

Custom Queries can extract the specific metrics and time scales (real time, near real time and historical) needed for analysis. Examples of data extraction for use cases include traffic per ASN to optimize load balancing, traffic by region for reporting, header data for quality control, URL and client range header data for user metric analysis, multiple data sets for custom graphing and charting, and periodically fetching data for archival purposes.

 

The data required to perform these analytics, sourced from EdgeQuery, can include:

  • Data from user behavior. Actions and interactions by end users.
  • Data from service delivery. Movement of data into and out of the content delivery network.
  • Data from service systems. Status and performance of the network, services and systems.

 

Consolidated Reporting in Limelight Control

 

Limelight’s consolidated reporting focuses on analytics rather than plain reporting.  The data visualizations are multidimensional and interactive, and consolidate what were previously many separate reports into a “single pane-of-glass” for presentation. Examples include the new Traffic Report and an upcoming new consolidated report for Limelight Origin Storage Services. The modernized, modular, interactive interface into real-time data is the next generation of analytics presentation. It features a tabbed workflow that drives insight while saving clicks. Users can view their data across multiple accounts and drill into nested information within the main visualization.

 

The new Traffic Report and other consolidated reports are part of the web-based Limelight Control portal where customers can configure delivery services and live events, manage content, administer and secure their environment, and access online support.

 Analytics Traffic Report

 

All data is now sourced from our leading real-time analytics platform – EdgeQuery. It also features a fresh new look and feel.

Reporting API

 

For customers who use their own tools and software for enterprise-level reporting and prefer to integrate content delivery analytics into those tools, Limelight’s Reporting API makes it easy to access the same pervasive real-time data that can also be accessed via our new-generation visual reports.

 

Limelight is committed to helping customers turn raw data about traffic, content, and end-user behavior into insights and actions that help achieve strategic objectives.

 

Limelight’s goal with analytics is to help our customers answer the following question. “We have all this amazing raw data about traffic, content, end-user behavior and more. How do we translate that raw data into insights and actions that will help us achieve our goals?”

 

For more information, please visit www.limelight.com.

The great and the good of the broadcast and media world are set to descend on IBC in Amsterdam next month, and once again Limelight Networks will have a very strong story to tell.

 

Last year’s show was all about OTT. There is little doubt that consumer’s viewing habits have shifted significantly. Online video viewership continues to grow, as does the number of connected devices for consuming content, and with this change we have seen an ongoing trend of audiences moving away from traditional channels and towards shows from TV streaming providers.

 

In 2017 consumers have taken complete control of the viewing experience. They decide what to watch, when to watch it, and they expect it to be delivered at broadcast quality to any device. Content distributors must ensure that they can deliver a high-quality, flexible viewing experience if they are to thrive. As more and more viewers “cut the cord” with traditional broadcasters and turn to streaming, the number of household subscriptions to OTT services is rising and the traditional broadcast television model is starting to crumble.

 

As a leading global content delivery network, Limelight will be talking to the assembled media world about the importance of delivering live and on demand video at broadcast quality. The customer experience should always come first and a CDN must enable a flawless viewing experience everywhere.

 

On the Monday of IBC at 3.30, Steve Miller-Jones will be speaking on a panel discussing the critical importance of protecting media assets and countering cyber threats in the OTT world. Recent months have seen several high-profile cyber attacks that have impacted companies and institutions around the world. Why not find out how broadcasters, content creators and service providers protect their content and their consumers as the online role in content distribution expands?

 

I’m sure you will be familiar with our trademark lime green polo shirts. Come and meet us – or book a meeting – at stand G01, Hall 14, where you will truly experience “Content Everywhere!”

 

 

bookameeting_cta.png

The excitement is building toward the "The Great American Eclipse" coming August 21, 2017 to the United States. It’s the first time in almost 100 years that a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast, and the first time in 38 years that one has been visible anywhere in the contiguous United States.

 

It's also the first U.S. total eclipse in the age of the Internet and live streaming, with NASA planning exciting live streaming of the event. With counterfeit eclipse glasses already found on the market, live streaming is the safest and coolest way to view the eclipse.  

Countdown to the eclipse on the NASA website.

Watch the live stream on August 21 on NASA Eclipse 2017 Live. 

NASA's Eyes to watch animated previews of the eclipse.

 

Eclipse path on the earth

 

Path of Total Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

 

What is an eclipse? An eclipse is a periodic alignment of the sun, earth and moon. In a solar eclipse, the moon moves between the sun and the viewer for a short time, obscuring part or all of the sun from view. A Total Solar Eclipse happens when the moon completely covers the sun. Here, the observer is standing under the umbral shadow of the moon. In a total solar eclipse, the sun’s outer atmosphere can be seen.

 

Sun earth eclipse

Solar Eclipse (visualization). Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio 

  

 

 

Rule Number One: Protect Your Eyes

Whatever you do, never look directly at the sun. You can suffer permanent eye damage or blindness. However, there are several ways, two old and one new, to safely observe a solar eclipse.

 

Three ways to safely observe the eclipse.

1. Pinhole projector or other projection method, producing a miniaturized view on paper. 

2. Certified protective eclipse glasses from a reputable vendor. 

3. Live streaming from NASA, or other video sources. See detail below.

 

Caution: counterfeit eclipse glasses could damage your eyes. According to Time,  Amazon is giving refunds to customers who have purchased potentially counterfeit solar eclipse glasses, which could lead to eye damage in people who wear them while looking directly at the sun.


NASA Recommends:

Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.

 

Note: the Reputable Vendors page currently states:

"It may be too late to buy solar viewers in time for August 21st. Most vendors are sold out!"

 

  

Live Streaming: 100% Safe, 100% Cool

NASA will be delivery live video streams of the August 21 total solar eclipse, from NASA Television and locations across the country, on NASA Eclipse 2017 Live. Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse.

 

Eclipse corona

Total eclipse image taken Mar. 20, 2015 at Svalbard, Norway. Credit: S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol

 

Official NASA broadcast locations for the total solar eclipse include:

  • International Space Station
  • 50+ High Altitude Balloon Teams Across Path of Totality
  • Gulfstream III Aircraft
  • State Fair Grounds/Oregon Museum of Science - Salem, OR
  • Exploratorium - Madras, OR
  • Museum of Idaho – Idaho Falls, ID
  • Exploratorium – Casper, WY
  • Homestead National Monument of America – Beatrice, NE
  • State Capitol – Jefferson City, MO
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville – Carbondale, IL
  • Summer Salute Festival – Hopkinsville, KY
  • Austin Peay State University – Clarksville, TN
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park – NC
  • College of Charleston – Charleston, SC
  • Coast Guard Ship – Atlantic Ocean

 

Here's the link that will stream the eclipse: NASA Eclipse 2017 Live  

 

In addition, for research purposes, NASA will chase the eclipse to capture high-resolution, high-speed photographs from two retrofitted WB-57F jet planes in the stratosphere. At the planes’ cruising altitude of 50,000 feet, the sky is 20-30 times darker than as seen from the ground, and there is much less atmospheric turbulence, allowing fine structures and motions in the Sun’s corona to be visible.

 

NASA planes observing eclipse

NASA aircraft chasing the eclipse (photo illustration). Credits: NASA/Faroe Islands/SwRI

 

 

So mark your calendars and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event!

Countdown to the eclipse on the NASA website.

Watch the live stream on August 21 on NASA Eclipse 2017 Live. 

NASA's Eyes to watch animated previews of the eclipse.

Over the past year live streaming of major sporting events has taken off. From playoffs and championships in professional sports, and increasingly regular season games, audiences seem to love it.

 

Why have sports leagues embraced streaming so enthusiastically? For example, in the NFL, viewership of regular season broadcasts has slipped in the past two years. The big TV networks have locked up mulit-year broadcasting rights for billions of dollars. With TV ratings slipping, they need more viewers to bring in more ad revenue. Voila! Live streaming simulcast with the broadcast is adding millions of additional viewers. Sounds like a great solution, right?

 

                                   

 

Well, most streaming viewers have experienced a problem with this. You’re watching a game on a mobile device as you walk into a sports bar to meet friends, and just as you go through the door everyone in the bar is cheering a just happened score, or you could have seen social media posts reporting it ahead of it showing up on your screen. Yet you experienced the latency gap between broadcast and streaming. This blog will discuss what’s going on here, and the new technologies coming to bear to solve the latency gap. There’s nothing like having a lot of revenue on the line to encourage innovation!

 

Challenges Delivering Internet Video Streaming at Low-Latency

Typical latencies delivering HLS or DASH over the internet are in the 30 second to one minute range. This is because these are HTTP-based protocols, which stream chunks of data. Because each chunk is generated and viewed in real-time, chunk size is a significant part of latency. For example, the default HLS chunk size is 10 seconds, leading to a delivery latency of up to 45 seconds when CDN ingesting, transcoding, distance between source and viewer, and delivery are factored in.

 

What is Limelight Doing to Lower Live Streaming Latency?

An obvious approach to lowering latency is to reduce the chunk size. This is exactly what we have done with our Video Acceleration configuration option in the Content Delivery Service, which is designed to accelerate the delivery of very small video chunks, and dynamic manifest files. (See more about video delivery services here). This capability is targeted at organizations delivering HLS and DASH live streams from their own infrastructure that the Limelight CDN uses as origin for cache fill. This will reduce live streaming latency down to about 5 seconds, a significant improvement over existing HLS and DASH live streaming delivery solutions. There are several successful in-production deployments of Video Acceleration that satisfy use case latency requirements. An example is an Asian online gaming company using Video Acceleration to improve their users game play experience by reducing the latency perceived in play.

 

What’s Next?

The industry focus on solutions for low-latency streaming is a technology called WebRTC, which is supported by all the popular browsers. Detailed coverage of WebRTC is beyond the scope of this blog, but there are multiple WebRTC-based solutions available that can be integrated with CDN network infrastructure. Limelight is active in evaluating this technology, with the promise of providing even lower latency than our current Video Acceleration. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting development.

 

Target Use Cases for Low-Latency Streaming

Video Acceleration is applicable in these scenarios:

  •      Simulcast Live Sports Events – Reduce the latency difference between a TV broadcast and the online stream delivery
  •      Live OTT Sports Events – Consistent viewing experience across multi-devices for non-simulcast delivery
  •      eSports (Online Live Gaming) – Scaling the delivery of low-latency live video delivery to large audiences
  •      Gambling and Betting – Ensuring a consistent reduced latency experience to users across a range of devices

 

 

More to Come

As we approach the IBC trade show event in early Sept. in Amsterdam, watch for updates on video delivery services for low-latency streaming and other video delivery based solutions.

This article is the second out of three articles diving into the world of video streaming, and the challenges of providing a user experience that is consistent with the very nature of live content. You can read the first article right here.

 

 

In our previous article we’ve seen how we are transitioning from legacy RTMP streaming to HTTP-based streaming. It provides obvious pro’s regarding quality of experience, but it also introduces larger overhead that needs to be mitigated if we want to keep the latency low. So let’s dig deeper into the way streaming video flows…

 

The workflow starts obviously with the recording: you want a device that minimizes the processing delay. A GoPro has usually a 3-frame delay, which translates into 33ms x 3 = 99ms at 30fps, whereas broadcast-grade cameras can take less than a video field (half a frame). Obviously, this delay can be increased by the codec, format, and resolution produced by your camera.

 

Of course, this is not where the bulk of the latency happens. When specifically producing adaptive bitrate streaming (allowing the users to play different qualities of the stream depending on their network conditions), there are multiple factors that go into determining latency, the most important of which are:  

  

  • Video encoder buffer duration
  • Segment/fragment duration
  • CDN delivery latency
  • Player buffer duration

 

The video encoding introduces latency, which can vary depending on input resolution, parameters, first frame accessed... All this adds up, and transcoders are not equals in terms of added latency. The codec(s) chosen can have strong implications, as the most bandwidth-friendly often uses more complexity for the encoding process, therefore adding more latency.

 

 

H.264H.265VP8 VP9

 

 

Then the packaged video is hosted on an origin server, which will serve the data to the end-users, often through a CDN for multiple purposes, including wide geographical distribution, securing video from theft, providing access control, and delivery performance. The bulk of the latency actually gets introduced in the origin-to-player part of the path.

 

Adaptive bitrate streaming formats allow mitigation of the the client-side rebuffering issues we faced while streaming in the older days, by using chunks (e.g. fragments) of video downloaded independently, to ensure that your stream can be played back seamlessly.

But for many of the same reasons that these formats are great, they also have faults when it comes to latency. They require the user’s player to build up a buffer of chunks before starting to play the video. Default playback buffer sizes require a certain number of packets to create a meaningful playback buffer.

 

A streaming server will likely buffer 2 fragments on its side (i.e. between 12 to 20 seconds, depending on the fragment’s default size), the CDN delivery path will likely introduce at least a few seconds of latency in just getting fragments propagated through its network for the first time, and then finally the player will buffer however much data it deems necessary to provide smooth playback resistant to network jitter (let’s assume 10 seconds as for HLS). So, when you add that all up, the typical glass-to-glass latency is 40 seconds, while with some tuning we will see that could be reduced to 10-20 seconds. 

 

In the real world it is not uncommon to see live events sometimes experience a latency of over 1 minute, though sometimes that’s by choice (e.g. customer choosing increased buffer & stability over low latency),

 

        Adaptive bitrate streaming

The streaming server above hosts every chunks of the video file, in 3 different bitrates. The client’s player below needs to download and buffer a number of chunks before it starts displaying the video.

 

For instance, our MMD Live product today supports a chunk size down to 2 seconds. What this means given our 3 segment manifest, is a 6 second latency + 1 second for traffic to get on and +1 second CDN exit delay = 8 seconds. Obviously, last mile quality matters for this to work well. That’s the current best low latency adaptive bitrate performance available today.

 

 

So, while these formats are widely used for video streaming today, they show their limits in the uses cases we previously discussed where the low latency is key. That’s why we will then turn to our 3rd article where we will explore new methods and protocols (think WebRTC, low latency DASH…) to make OTT streaming experience similar to broadcast. So stay posted!

 

Today we’re taking a peek at Control, Limelight’s self-service portal, to see recent features and enhancements.

 

If your company delivers online content — streaming video, rich web pages, games, file downloads, e-commerce and more — you know or use Limelight. Limelight is a leader in content delivery, with a track record of high performance and availability on a global scale.

 

Limelight Control gives customers secure, 24x7 access to the Limelight Orchestrate Platform. Customers can monitor their content delivery, order and configure services, manage content, analyze usage, and access online support.

 

Here’s the latest in Limelight Control.

Easy Setup of Backup Origin

Origin storage, the content source for delivery networks, can become the critical path on cache miss. But if the content isn’t found in origin storage, it’s time for the dreaded 404 error. You can solve that problem by configuring a backup origin.

 

Limelight Control lets users define a backup origin when creating or editing a configuration. Users now see an additional field in the Failover section of a configuration screen, which can request content from an alternative backup origin host and base URL path on 404 error. This feature is necessary when Intelligent Ingest is enabled and its rules need to locate backup content on a specific origin path while insuring that the cache key is preserved. The field accepts both HTTP & HTTPS hostnames.

 

 

Referer Blocking and Whitelisting

For additional content security, customers can now either block (blacklist) or allow (whitelist) requests from specified domains. The new Referer Blocking capability is available in Content Security configurations for Static Content, Websites & Apps, and HTTP Chunked Streaming.

 

 

Better Management of “Do Not Cache”

A new “Do Not Cache” option in Caching Rules provides finer control over content caching behavior. This option can be applied individually to chunks and manifests for a Chunked Streaming configuration.

 

 

Origin Storage: Faster Provisioning, and Configuring Intelligent Ingest

A new and improved Users section in Origin Storage (Cloud Storage) allows for much faster provisioning in Control. In addition, a new set of tools streamlines to configuration of Intelligent Ingest.

 

Intelligent Ingest automates migration of content to Limelight Origin Storage, which offers dramatically better performance and availability than ordinary storage solutions. The new Intelligent Ingest configuration page provides summary information at the top, including Status (Active, Inactive or Disabled), Storage Quota (if quota is set; % and total
disk usage), Bandwidth (the ingest bandwidth limit for the remote hosts) and Threads (the number of request threads running on the remote hosts). A list of existing Intelligent Ingest rules appears below the summary. For each rule, the content paths for both Origin Storage and the remote host are shown.

 

New Traffic Report (beta)

A redesigned Traffic report beta is now available to company admins (access to users coming soon). The new report focuses on analytics rather than plain reporting – the data visualizations are multidimensional and interactive. The modernized interface simplifies navigation and consolidates multiple reports into a tabbed workflow that drives insight while saving clicks. Users can view their data across multiple accounts (shortnames), and drill into nested information within the main visualization. All data is now sourced from our leading real-time analytics platform – EdgeQuery. It also features a fresh new look and feel.

 

 

Administrator Control of User Access to Segments

Company administrators have a new option for user reports permissions called “Realtime Data Segments”. Admins can control user access to data segments via these settings.

 

 

Bonus: Managing Data Segments via API

A Data Segment (previously known as a Custom View) is a filtered view of report data in Control, for use cases such as analyzing traffic for specific content. Now, customers that use API control can access and manage Data Segments via the Reporting API (Application Programming Interface) just like any master segment.

 

Try It For Yourself!

If you’re a Limelight customer, take these new features out for a spin. Log in with your username and password at Limelight Control customer portal.

 

If you’re not yet a Limelight customer, request a free trial.

To support rapidly increasing traffic and bandwidth needs, Limelight is continually increasing its network capacity and expanding its global Points of Presence (PoPs) worldwide.

 

Limelight continued its investment in infrastructure this month by adding three new Points-of-Presence in India. Located in Bombay, Chennai and Delhi, the new PoPs address the growing market demand for world-class CDN services and capabilities. See the news here.

 

One of the key internet connectivity problems in India is wide variations in connection speeds depending on location, coupled with sporadic surges. The current infrastructure simply doesn’t provide good connectivity reliably and to all regions.

 

Here’s where Limelight and CDNs come into play. A CDN can act as distributed server that delivers content such as web pages and video to people via service provider last mile connections. The Limelight CDN, for instance, can move massive amounts of content around the country rapidly. This method minimizes latency, or slow response times, and TCP connection optimization eases the traffic load on a customer’s own network. Limelight’s CDN also provides protection against large traffic surges, such as when people watch a live streaming event.

 

Many of the world’s largest media, entertainment, software and gaming companies already use Limelight to deliver their content into India. But with the new PoPs, Limelight can now help domestic enterprises in the country deliver truly exceptional customer experiences.

At Limelight, we’re proud of the accomplishments we’ve made over the years in improving our bottom line while reducing our carbon footprint. These accomplishments are great for us, and they’re important to customers because we can provide better service and support while also protecting the environment.

 

While I’m thrilled with the financial performance of our company, I’m equally as proud of the fact we’ve been able to achieve these results while being an environmentally conscious company.

 

To-date, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by a phenomenal 21%—an all-time high for Limelight. While that reduction in itself is significant, we’ve achieved these results while growing our network reach by more than 60% and increasing the number of markets we serve by over 15%

 

Through our continued efforts, we estimate that we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by more than 3 metric tons! That’s enough capacity to power 400 households for a year or Stowe Vermont’s entire population of 4,000 for a month

 

The best news is that our desire to be greener is still strong—and we have multiple projects in progress across our geographies that will make even more significant contributions to lower our carbon footprint. 

 

Stay tuned for more!

Content Delivery has become a required strategy for many online services. From fast loading web pages to media streaming, CDNs can accelerate content downloads, making sites more engaging and more useful. But a user has to first be able to reach the CDN and for that to happen you need DNS.

 

Although CDNs get resources much closer to users on average than a data center or hosting site, there is always the public internet to traverse between the user’s home network, typically their ISP, and the edge of the CDN network. Many times, access across these paths can experience issues that slow down access to the CDN or block connection all together.  No problem is as pervasive and affecting as Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks, which fill up a network with query traffic that prevents “good” traffic from getting through to the CDN.

 

All paths between users and CDNs are established by a combination of CDN IP addresses and the ISP’s choice of transit vendors. The CDN’s IP addresses live in DNS tables and each ISP accesses DNS information to determine where the user is to be sent.  With CDNs, a lot of the dynamic nature of the solution is within the CDN infrastructure, but access to that infrastructure comes from the DNS lookup.  So, the relationship between a CDN’s architecture and policies and the DNS architecture and management becomes increasingly important.

 

When a DDoS attack occurs, DNS lookups can become very slow or even not available.  No DNS response means that the user can’t be connected to the CDN.   So, no matter how efficient the CDN network itself is, no access means no service.

 

A top-notch DDoS solution can limit the impact of DDoS events on CDNs in the following ways:

  1. Advanced, cloud-based DNS solutions use a distributed nameserver network (Anycast) where all nameservers respond to DNS queries. This means that if you can geographically limit an attack to a small part of the DNS infrastructure, the rest of the network can still respond with consistency and performance.
  2. Large, well managed cloud-based DNS solutions can absorb pretty big chunks of volumetric data and still have room to process valid traffic. This is especially true of DNS solutions that use multiple Tier 1 transit at multiple global POPs with large connection pipes.
  3. Using multiple DNS networks that work together to access CDNs can also be an effective approach by using a common nameserver pool (secondary DNS). If one set of DNS nameservers isn’t available, the other DNS solution very well may be unaffected and carry on the DNS functions without significant effect to consistency and performance.

 

So, it’s clear that DNS solutions can have an important impact on managed DDoS attacks that can affect availability, security and performance. Adding other DDoS protection services like DDoS scrubber sites, can also add effective ways of absorbing and filtering very large volumes of DDoS generated traffic to keep your business up and running. These services carry additional costs and often introduce more latency than a DDoS mitigating DNS solution.  But in the battle against ever-increasing DDoS attacks, a combination of multiple, highly effective DNS and DDoS scrubber site solutions should be seriously considered.


By Thibaud Regeard , Limelight Solutions Engineer

 

This article is the first out of three articles diving into the world of video streaming, and the challenges of providing a user experience that is consistent with the very nature of live content.


Why is that? You might have experienced watching a live soccer game through your favorite OTT app or website, enjoying smooth quality and cheering for your team getting closer and closer to the opponent goalkeeper… Then suddenly you hear your neighbor screaming, notifications are popping up on your phone: “GGGOOOAAALLL!!!” Wait, there is no such goal… Oh, there it is! 30 seconds later, you see it happen and all the fun is ruined. Does that ring a bell?

 

 

Latency is a term that is commonly used throughout the Internet. Something that is related to your connection with remote content servers and can make or break your experience with online content. Low latency makes sure that users can enjoy it to the fullest, and this is especially true when facing time-critical content, be it online gaming or gambling, live auction, security feed monitoring, or live video streaming.

 

So what exactly is it when we talk about Latency? A term often measured in milliseconds, latency - for the purposes of discussing delivery of online video -  is defined as the average total time that is takes the internet, or a content delivery network, to send video to whatever device you will view it on.

 

Taking it from the definition, it’s pretty straightforward that low latency is important especially if you are experiencing online content. Low latency can be impacted by many factors: the type of internet connection, your router/switch, Internet Service Provider, number of users, or the distance between your computer and the server. While a fair amount depends on the state of the network and the route used to reach the content, we will focus today on the inherent latency created by the technology layer used to bring the content online.

 

How live broadcasters can improve their speed

 

Time is money. Whether it’s high frequency financial trading or live content streaming, you want to reduce the time needed to transport you content from its source to your eyeballs. Distributing video content over the top has been an increased concern as it embraces a variety of use cases: you probably don’t want to learn about the latest touchdown on a live broadcast BEFORE you actually see it happen on Twitter? For scenarios like this, you would probably appreciate, if your security team would have video monitoring feeds closer to real-time in order to deal with disruptions or criminal activities.

 

For this kind of audience, low latency streaming is not only a nice-to-have it is also a necessity. Latency dictates the delay between the live event as it is happening, compared to when the video or audio appears on the device you are using.  Key audiences who can benefit from low latency video are:

 

  • Gambling and gaming users – get news before the odds change
  • Financial organizations – getting the breaking news first can mean being ahead of the markets
  • News organizations – breaking the news first
  • Live Broadcasters – reducing the delay of a live event when viewed across multiple devices
  • Auctions - no point in being too late!
  • Security monitoring – being able to react on time can save lives or valuable assets!

 

The end of Flash technology?

 

For years now, many companies have relied on RTMP (Real Time Delivery Protocol developed by Adobe and mostly used along with Flash) delivery for their streaming business. They needed the low-latency aspect of RTMP delivery, as HTTP-based live streams have larger overhead for playlist and video segmentation, which can delay live playback for almost a minute. This type of latency is not acceptable for real-time communication such as live auction feeds or video chat.

Did you know that Facebook Live uses RTMP in its mobile apps to push a live stream out to its CDN? Anyone who is streaming live content is very likely using RTMP to push the video feed.


The Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) was designed for transmission of audio, video, and data between Adobe Flash Platform technologies, including Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR. Companies who rely on the Flash plug-in for desktop browsers are becoming less, as most of the big web companies like Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft are already pulling the plug on Flash, phasing out its support in their most recent browsers.


In most of these live-streaming scenarios, the Flash plug-in is not necessarily used in a desktop browser though. RTMP can be used as a transport in a mobile or desktop application without requiring the Flash plug-in.
So Flash is still there, flexing its muscle where the action is and keeping the data moving when there isn’t room for processing delays. Despite all its shortcomings, we must acknowledge that Flash can be better than the competition in some use cases.

 

While some CDN vendors have already shutdown their RTMP capacity, Limelight still maintains RTMP endpoints for ingesting live streams. In most of these live-streaming scenarios, though, the Flash plug-in is not necessarily used in a desktop browser. RTMP can be used as a transport in a mobile or desktop application without requiring the Flash plug-in.
As the popularity and footprint of Flash declines, RTMP delivery is expected to fall off and eventually be replaced by optimized HTTP delivery.