Skip navigation
All Places > In the Limelight Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

In the Limelight Blog

156 posts
mmilligan

Video Takes on Vegas

Posted by mmilligan Apr 24, 2017

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  For those of us immersed in the video industry, April is when we get a preview from broadcast and media equipment vendors of their new wares at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.  For manufacturers, it’s a mad scramble to make sure new products are working (or least make it look like they work so they can be demonstrated).  For attendees, there is a lot of walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center during the day (and pursuing other Vegas offerings at night).  NAB has become the one-stop shop for learning about the latest technologies and trends in the video industry and deciding how to spend your capital budget during the rest of the year.

 

ANALOG ORIGINS

My first trip to the NAB Show was in 1990 in Atlanta, back before it found its permanent home in Las Vegas.  The industry was on the cusp of moving from pure analog technology to starting to implement digital solutions.  Companies such as AMPEX (remember them?) had huge booths filled with eager buyers.  I worked for a small startup at the time that was pioneering digital video editing.  I was envious of the big companies like AMPEX with their flashy hardware solutions.  That envy didn’t last long.

 

 

THE FIRST DIGITAL WAVE

After that, the first wave of “digital solutions” came along.  Companies like Abekas had huge booths filled with amazing digital solutions that seemed to mimic what the hardware vendors did, but offered greater flexibility and creativity.  In effect, they were doing what had already been done, but with digital technology.  The technology was interesting, but not necessarily compelling.

 

LOCAL WORKFLOWS

It wasn’t until vendors started delivering solutions that fundamentally changed the content creation and production process that digital technology finally took hold.  The breakthrough came with the ability to store media in digital form, allowing multiple people in the same facility to easily collaborate during the content creation process.  Multiple editors could seamlessly work together on the same television show or feature film.  Journalists had quick access to any media at the station, making it easier and faster to update news stories as they developed.  Suddenly, everyone in your facility could easily be involved in the content creation process.  This changed how people worked.

 

REMOTE COLLABORATION

The next wave extended those siloed workflows to include people in remote locations.  Fortunately, networking technology and the internet were getting faster.  Users were able to transfer or FTP media to someone in a remote location.   A collaborator in a remote location could access proxies and low-resolution versions of media stored in a different location.  Journalists in the field were able to view media at the station.  It was finally realistic to purchase enough bandwidth for media to be shared across long-distances.  The geographic barriers that hampered collaboration fell.

 

MOVING TO THE CLOUD

The next big disruption is underway.  “The Cloud” is fundamentally changing how and where content is created.  We have the ability for people to access media from anywhere, so why do we still need to build big centralized production centers?  Why can’t the media and the media production services be virtualized or live in the cloud?  The technology to fully virtualize the content creation process is here, although it may not all fit together as easily as we would have hoped (as the rollout of SMPTE 2022 and SMPTE 2110 have shown).  However, it’s easy to see the demise of large centralized content production facilities is not that far away.

 

OTT TAKES HOLD

So, what’s next?  Just as the content creation process has moved to a virtualized IP infrastructure, the content distribution process is also moving “over the top”.  It is easier than ever for viewers to find content that appeals to them and stream it on demand.  No longer do you need to wait for something to be “broadcast” to enjoy it.  It is always available 24/7.  Even live events are increasingly streamed online.  Most major sporting events are now available anywhere on the device of your choice. 

 

The final barrier to full adoption of online streaming is available bandwidth to ensure a “broadcast-quality” viewing experience.  With the speed of consumer broadband and mobile connections increasing, consumers are beginning to enjoy even 4K streaming media at home.  However, the core “Internet” doesn’t yet have enough bandwidth to support a major event like the Super Bowl where you might have more than 100 million Americans simultaneously streaming high-resolution video.  That day is still a little way away.  However, there are solutions available today to guarantee a great online viewing experience. 

 

 

PUTTING VIEWER EXPERIENCE FIRST

Limelight Networks helps content distributors deliver the best online viewing experiences.  The Limelight Orchestrate Platform includes a natively integrated online video platform, storage and security.  With a QoS-enabled network of over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and 21+ terabits per-second of egress capacity directly interconnected with major ISPs and last-mile networks, the Limelight Orchestrate Platform has the speed, capacity, and availability to support the largest global events, wherever your viewers are located.  Limelight delivers the world’s largest events.

 

At NAB 2017, Limelight has been meeting with companies to talk about how to best deliver the next great video experience.  If you are at the show, please stop by booth SU10714 to talk to our video technology experts.  Because at Limelight, we are dedicated to enabling you to create the world’s best content experiences anywhere.

We are days away from the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference, one of the largest events dedicated to all things broadcasting. Being a Las Vegas show, the metrics are huge – 103,000 attendees from 150+ countries, 1,700 press, 1,500 exhibitors, 1 million square feet of exhibit space, and 700 educational sessions according to the show program guide.

                          

This is all a bit overwhelming from an attendee perspective, so I’ve scoped out the trends to watch will be, reviewed session descriptions to select which to attend, and looked at the exhibitor list and demo pavilions to plan my show floor activity. Keeping in mind my keen interested on online video experiences and my product marketing focus on Limelight’s video services, here are the areas I find of particular interest  at NAB this year:

 

Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion

Camera-carrying drones are in common usage for so many industries, delivering content from on high. The pavilion will have dynamic exhibitor demonstrations built to give an up-close look at the latest technology in action, and how broadcasters can best deploy aerial cameras to enhance the viewing options for their audience.

 

                           

                         

Cyber Security and Content Protection Pavilion

This pavilion will feature the leading companies securing digital assets today, and working to counter the increasingly more sophisticated cyber threats in the future. The broad range of video distribution technologies means more opportunities for theft of valuable content. 4K and HDR video will be prime targets for pirating, as this is premium content that subscribers pay more for, and will justify higher ad monetization fees.

 

Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion

The AR VR Pavilion will feature companies changing the way information is consumed. The latest AR and VR software and equipment will be available for demo and hands on experience. I expect big improvements in VR displays over what I experienced with last year’s underwhelming demos.

 

4K and HDR TV

4K broadcasting is gaining traction with sporting events, and some OTT services are making movie content available in 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR). The progress in HDR standards, as the multiple incompatible HDR schemes will slow market adoption of this game changing technology will be interesting.  Besides checking out the latest TVs, new developments in 4K broadcasting infrastructure – cameras, production equipment, network services, etc. will be center stage.

 

               

 

NAB Futures Park

This showcase features demonstrations of media developments in progress and products not yet available to the market from academic and commercial research labs in the US and around the world.

 

SPROCKIT and StartUp Loft                                                

Market-ready startups beginning to form partnerships are showcased In SPROCKIT, and the StartUp Loft  gathers newly created companies in the broadcast industry. Attendees can get a first look at their product and service offerings.

 

Limelight at the Show

We will be talking about new enhancements to video delivery services including:

  • DRM support for content protection
  • Low latency chunked streaming for live events
  • Live to VOD recording for subsequent use as VOD content
  • Live streaming from mobile devices directly to Limelight live streaming delivery

All these enhancements ensure the delivery of consistent high-quality digital experiences. Visit us to talk about these new video capabilities and our full video delivery solutions at the NAB show in the South Hall Upper booth #SU10714.

 

More to come

During NAB I will be blogging from the exhibit hall about significant findings and really cool demonstrations. After the show, I will blog a summary of impressions of the standout technologies and new trends on the horizon.   Stay tuned!

Webinar: 7 Qualities that are Revolutionizing CDN Origin Storage

 

Find out what CDN origin storage is, why you should care about it, and how it can save your business money and resources.

 

North America: May 9 at 2 PM EST. 

Register >

 

EMEA: May 18 at 9 AM EST.

Register >

Hacking, debilitating DDoS attacks and data theft continue to escalate in frequency and scope.  In a blog on April 14, I discussed the challenges of ensuring websites and associated origins are protected from cyber threats. Today, I’m excited to reveal new online security capabilities and existing services to solve these challenges.

 

Solutions for Scalable Protection

Today Limelight introduced two new additions to our Cloud Security Services that enhance protection against attacks on websites and unauthorized access or theft of data. Deployed together with existing security services, the new enhancements provide a scalable approach to protecting web servers and applications:

 

  •      Limelight Security Alert provides active DDoS attack detection and alerting of malicious activity against websites and application domains. Customers’ content delivery services are configured to minimize the surface of attack exposed to the Internet and to ensure the defensive protection of Limelight’s network is deployed effectively. This service is available for free to Limelight Premier and Enterprise customers.

 

  •      Limelight WAF Express includes the Security Alert capabilities as well as simple-to-implement, efficient, effective, and affordable web application security for organizations that may not have implemented security measures due to cost. It offers protection from web application attacks using OWASP 10 Rules, rate limiting, and access control. WAF Express customers can upgrade to fully featured WAF protection which includes all Security Alert and WAF Express capabilities, and adds custom WAF filter rules, activity dashboards, and 24/7 Operations Center monitoring.

 

The above new services complement Limelight’s platform security measures and DDoS Attack Interceptor available to our CDN users:

  • Defensive Protection—Passive attack mitigation via our massive CDN 
  • SSL / HTTPS Delivery—Deliver digital assets securely via the largest SSL global footprint
  •       Geo Fencing—Control access based on geolocation
  •       MediaVault—Tokenization-based video streaming access control
  •       CORS Management—Allow multiple content sources while restricting sharing to designated origin
  •       IP Whitelisting and Blacklisting—Control access based on IP addresses
  •       DDoS Attack Interceptor—Detect and mitigate attacks against websites

 

To Learn More

Want to learn more about how Limelight’s Cloud Security Services can protect your business?  Defense details are available here.

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is ensuring websites and associated origins are protected from cyberattacks.  The frequency and sophistication of attacks are increasing as well as the duration. Yet many organizations do not have the security protections in place to defend themselves. Typically this is due to budget constraints or the perception that they haven’t been impacted by attacks. In this blog, top challenges will be identified, to be followed early next week with the unveiling of new security solutions that solve these challenges.

 

Top Challenges

There are numerous challenges to keep E-commerce sites available for business and secure from cyber threats such as theft of consumer data:

  •      DDoS Attacks – These are the biggest threats against web server infrastructure. Over 50% of organizations experienced an attack in the past year according to the Bluecoat cyber threat defense report. The top verticals that come under attack are financial institutions and online retailing. The availability of hacking tools such as the Marai botnet, which is in the public domain and comes with a database of compromised IoT devices, makes launching an attack too easy.     Web Application Attacks – The goal of web app attacks is not to make websites unavailable, but to breach security measures and gain access to consumer data such as credit card data. Another motive is to compromise web apps and demand ransom money to unlock the apps.
  •      Theft of Content – Unauthorized access to licensed content or intellectual property can result in theft of VOD files and violations of content licensing agreements.
  •       Performance – Many security measures can negatively impact the performance of user’s interactions with web applications. Sacrificing performance for security is not an acceptable strategy.
  •      Site Access – Controlling access to your website is a key defensive measure – but how do you keep bad actors out, while welcoming authorized guests?

 

Stay Tuned

Early next week I will reveal exciting new security capabilities that address all these challenges. Don’t miss it! See you back here shortly.

This week, Limelight announced updates and new capabilities for its industry-leading origin storage solution for CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) -- including 25GB of free storage for new customers and many existing customers.  Let’s drill down on some of Limelight’s announcements.

 

Focus on CDN Origin Storage

Companies that deliver great user experience understand the value of origin storage – whether it’s for video-on-demand, file distribution, web acceleration, gaming or e-commerce. Origin storage is where content delivery networks (CDNs) go to retrieve files that aren’t in edge cache. Some have tried using ordinary general-purpose cloud storage as their origin storage, but with mixed results. The user experience can be unpredictable, and too often underwhelming. And the time and resource burdens on the company can be significant, whether it’s manual management, or custom-developing CDN-specific features. 

 

Limelight has a better way, offering a rich CDN origin storage solution as a service. With high-performance storage sites around the world, collocated with edge cache devices and egress to ISP’s, interconnected by a high-speed private fiber network, Limelight Origin Storage Services is one of the largest, fastest cloud storage solutions in the world.

 

And it’s the best at one thing: delivering content.

 

To reflect this focus, Limelight Cloud Storage Services have now been renamed Limelight Origin Storage Services.  The new name sharpens the focus and value on content delivery, where origin storage plays such a critical role.

 

Now let’s look at the groundbreaking new feature set just announced.

 

 

Listen to Your Customers, Then Please Them – All Automatically

If you’re a company with content to deliver, it’s a critical question: What content does your audience value? And wouldn’t it be great if you could automatically accelerate the exact content your audience values? Not by analyzing historical data, not with time-consuming polls, not by guesswork – but completely automatically.

 

That’s exactly what Limelight’s unique new Intelligent Ingest does in Load On Demand mode. Each 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 for future requests. You have controls like the ability to specify maximum concurrency and bandwidth. Other than that, set it and forget it – audience popularity determines which content migrates to accelerated Origin Storage.

 

The other mode of Intelligent Ingest, Manifest Upload mode, automates upload based on a list of content you provide. You can migrate all your content, or just selected portion of it, with control over total migration time and rate of ingest up to 10 TB/day.

 

Consistently Deliver Industry-Best Performance

Limelight Origin Storage is a distributed object-based storage system, which is tightly integrated with the Limelight private CDN and optimized for superior content delivery. From January 1 to March 23, 2017, public data from independent real user measurement solution Cedexis shows Limelight Origin Storage is 92 percent faster on average than cloud storage offerings. Internal Limelight testing has shown performance improvements of up to 200 percent for specific customer workflows.

 

Automatic High Availability at No Extra Charge

Recently, an estimated 150,000 websites, applications, and business-critical software stopped working properly for several hours. The impact was significant in lost dollars, lost audience trust, and more. The problem was caused by a network service outage in one regional location, yet it had massive global impact. Why? Lack of multi-regional redundancy with the ability to fail over on retrieval.

 

Limelight ensures high availability -- and high performance -- in two critical ways, automatically.

 

Automatic Replication. On ingest, at no extra cost, Limelight automatically creates multiple redundant copies close to your audience. Just choose from a menu of regional policies based on where your audience is located.

 

Automatic Best-Site Retrieval with Failover. On retrieval, Limelight automatically fetches from the fastest site, and redirects from slow or offline sites without the user even knowing anything is amiss. Ordinary cloud storage services don’t offer such automation.

 

Exceptional Multi-CDN Performance

Increasingly, companies are using multiple CDNs to deliver their content. Limelight’s unique globally connected approach gives multi-CDN customers exceptional Origin Storage performance, availability and automated workflow for all their CDNs. Customers don’t just get fast distributed storage; they get the full benefit of Limelight’s’ global private-fiber CDN to transport the content for handoff to the selected CDN. It’s ideal as the primary or backup origin for any delivery service or CDN.

 

Experience the Benefits Yourself

And so, the best just got better. With Limelight Origin Storage Services and new Intelligent Ingest, you can easily add new content, monitor usage, manage the lifecycle, and deliver an exceptional customer experience every time.

 

To encourage everyone to experience the benefits of Limelight Origin Storage Services, Limelight is now offering 25GB of free storage to all new customers and current Content Delivery customers who do not currently use Limelight storage. More details are available at the Limelight Origin Storage web page.

Our digital lives increasingly depend not just on our devices, but on the networks and cloud services behind the scenes. People use and enjoy these services and take them for granted -- until there’s a disruption. When outages occur and people feel the impact, the failure of technology takes center stage. With recent attention to high-impact outages, let’s take a moment to talk about the topic, and how companies can easily protect themselves.

 

What happens with outages and their impacts?

There are two answers to this question. One answer doesn’t matter; the other answer makes all the difference.

 

It doesn’t matter what caused any particular outage. Outages happen. Network outages have been caused by equipment problems, power failures, human error, weather, fire, vandalism and squirrels. It’s inevitable that outages will continue to happen.

 

What does matter is that it’s easy to dramatically reduce or prevent the negative user impact. In one recent case for example, a network service outage occurred in one regional location, yet it had massive global impact. Why? Lack of multi-regional redundancy. The service provider didn’t offer an easy, cost-effective option to replicate data to multiple regions. The websites that eventually suffered relied on one service site with no failover. When that one site went down, the websites failed to deliver for an extended period of time.

 

No Extra Cost: Buttons, Belt, and Suspenders

Limelight is leading the way in protecting digital companies and user experience. At no extra cost, Limelight Origin Storage Services automate redundancy on both upload and download. When companies upload content, Limelight streamlines your operations with automated replication to multiple sites. When users download the content, Limelight ensures fastest delivery with automated performance testing and failover to the fastest site. Because it’s automated, it’s easy and nearly foolproof. By contrast, some cloud storage providers charge hefty fees to replicate to different regions, and don’t offer automatic replication or failover. Unfortunately, their customers can suffer severe business impact as a result.

 

With Limelight, even if one storage site were to suffer a similar outage, users would never even know that anything was amiss. Behind the scenes, Limelight would automatically switch to another site that has the data, and deliver. 

 

For companies, setup is a simple one-time selection of policies based on where your audience is. For example, if your audience is global, you can choose a policy that replicates content to storage sites in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific. If your audience is mostly in the United States, the US policy replicates to multiple sites around the country. And yes, you can have different policies for different content libraries, and you can change policies any time.

 

In the future, whenever you upload new content, Limelight will automatically replicate it with multi-site redundancy to the regions you specified.

 

When your audience requests content that needs to be retrieved from origin storage, Limelight ensures delivery.  First, the system tests the redundant origin storage sites to see which responds fastest. Usually, the closest site wins and delivers the content. But what if the closest site is experiencing problems? Whether it’s simply slow delivery, or a regional outage, your audience will usually never know. Limelight’s system will automatically determine the fastest redundant site and deliver from there.

 

Do you have a multi-CDN strategy? Whether you use multiple Content Delivery Networks (CDN) or Limelight’s CDN, you’ll enjoy high availability, performance and automation. Limelight Origin Storage Services can be configured to act as primary or backup origin to all your CDN’s. While the best end-to-end performance will generally use the Limelight CDN, rest assured that your best practices and risk diversification are supported.

 

Finally, Limelight offers the best support in the industry with knowledgeable experts available 24/7/365. Some cloud storage providers do not offer live support, requiring customers to rely on email to address critical situations.

 

Limelight Origin Storage Services were specifically designed to meet the unique challenges of delivering digital content anywhere in the world, with the highest performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness.  Make sure you know the facts when choosing this critical component of your web infrastructure.  And most of all, be sure not to have a single point of failure.  Outages don’t need to happen to your business.

While e-commerce was once just about duplicating the in-store experience, today it has evolved into so much more. Retailers are now expected to deliver fast, personalized shopping experiences featuring rich media and video on any device wherever and whenever the customer chooses. These changes have introduced a host of challenges for retailers, but they also offer significant opportunities to improve customer conversion and retention.

 

 

Scalability & Availability

Unfortunately, customer demand fluctuates throughout the year.  The holiday shopping rush or the release of a hot new item may cause customer demand and the strain on your web infrastructure to spike.  Meeting these spikes in demand makes the difference between capitalizing on the opportunity or losing potential revenue.  In addition, unplanned downtime can significantly impact sales as customers may not wait for your site to come back online and decide to purchase elsewhere instead. 

 

Your infrastructure needs to scale on demand to help support these spikes in traffic.  It also needs to be redundant and geographically dispersed to overcome any potential issues or outages in a specific location. A recent outage of Amazon’s S3 cloud storage in a single location in Virginia impacted 54 of the top 100 US retailers according to the web monitoring company Apica.  Companies that stored all of their content in that single location were not able to serve their customers.  The financial impact to these retailers was significant.  When deciding how to improve your e-commerce infrastructure, choose a partner such as Limelight who provides cost-free replication of all your web content in multiple locations and will serve content to your customers from the fastest location.  This ensures optimal customer experiences and insulates you from failures of any portion of your content delivery infrastructure.

 

Performance

Recent consumer research by Limelight Networks shows 21% of consumers will abandon a website if pages take 3 seconds or longer to load.  A report from Soasta found a 100-millisecond delay in load time can bring down conversion rates by up to 7%.  Customers are increasingly expecting faster online shopping experiences.

 

Your content delivery infrastructure must have the scalability and reach to quickly serve customers from locations that are as close as possible to the customer.  Caching of static content such as product images can significantly improve page-load times.  In addition, middle-mile acceleration and support for the latest protocols such as HTTP/2 can greatly improve web performance.  Another important consideration for ensuring the fastest online e-commerce experience is to choose a partner who has high cache efficiency for delivering static content, can serve content from multiple locations or quickly access cached content from another location, and the ability to optimize the delivery of content to a customer’s browser.

 

Omnichannel

Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to make online purchases.  comScore reported mobile commerce grew 44% during the 2016 holiday shopping period.  Adobe reported mobile phones accounted for 36% of online shopping during the 2016 Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping weekend.  Customers are increasingly using both mobile devices and desktop computers to perform research before making a purchase on the device of their choice or even in-store.   

 

Customers expect a high-quality shopping experience on any connected device.  A recent survey by Limelight Networks shows 50% of consumers expect web pages to load just as fast on a mobile device as on desktop or laptop. When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they provide a high-quality experience for customers, regardless of the device type they are using.  Capabilities such as Device identification with configurable actions based on results lets you customize content by device and accelerate site performance on mobile phones, tablets, PCs—virtually any type of device.

 

Security

Malicious hacking, cyber-attacks, and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have accelerated in frequency and scope.  The NTT Group's 2016 Global Threat Intelligence Report indicates the retail industry faces more attacks than any other industry.  In fact, retailers face three times as many attacks as the financial services industry, the second most targeted group.  KPMG’s 2016 Consumer Loss Barometer survey indicates 19% of consumers would not go back to a retailer that has been hacked, even after the issue had been resolved

 

Downtime and slowdowns from DDoS attacks cause lost revenue, while hacking and other security breaches can expose customer data and negatively impact your brand reputation and customer retention.  Make sure your content delivery partner offers integrated security capabilities to help you monitor potential DDoS attacks as well as provide scrubbing of requests during attacks.  In addition, deploy a Web Application Firewall (WAF) between your CDN and your origin web servers so it won’t impact the performance of your site.  By doing this, only requests that need to be filled by your web servers (not requests for cached content) are inspected by the WAF, significantly improving performance while still providing maximum security.

 

Video & Rich Media

Customers increasingly expect an engaging online experience.  Videos and other rich media make it easier to learn about products, gain additional insight, and instill confidence prior to purchase.  In addition, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) are starting to become more common.  Many retailers are experimenting with VR to provide a more engaging online experience. 

 

Recent research by Limelight Networks shows 79% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand to a friend if they had a positive experience with its web site.  When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they offer an integrated online video platform that makes it easy for you to upload and manage video content.  Capabilities such as device detection at the network edge and identification of incoming requests allow automatic conversion of video content into the appropriate format for the customer’s device.  In addition, auto-detection of a customer’s browser, OS, device, and connection speed make it easy to provide a rich video playback experience.

 

The Solution to Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences

The pressure is on for retailers to provide exceptional online experiences that deliver the reliability, consistency, and performance customers demand while providing the security and availability you need.  Limelight is here to make it easier to address these e-tail challenges and maximize revenue.

 

Webinar - Overcoming eTail Challenges to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences

Join Limelight Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00pm EDT for a live webinar as we review the technical challenges that impact your ability to deliver exceptional e-tail customer experiences and strategies for overcoming them.

This week kicks off the most exciting time of the year, for college basketball fans, with the 2017 NCAA men’s Division 1 tournament set to swing into action. As in previous years, new options to watch games, including the ability tune into more games, are part of broadcaster’s efforts to step up with innovative ways to satisfy viewers. However it challenges video infrastructures.

 

Following in the path of last year’s tournament coverage, the popular March Madness app delivers fan friendly features, including streaming every game for free. CBS and Turner will provide live streaming access across a record 15 different platforms, including Fire, Roku, Xbox, Apple TV, and Amazon’s Alexa. For a complete guide to game streaming options, read this c|net article. Access to sports and other live events is a significant concern for Millennial males, with 20 percent saying they would not cut the cord until more live content becomes available online, compared to just eight percent of the population as a whole. An important addition to online viewing options for sports is ESPN’s streaming support. On the broadcast TV side – TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV provide exclusive live, national coverage of all 67 NCAA Tournament games across the 4 networks. All these options mean viewers can watch more games than any previous March Madness. Instead of one game every four hours, you can even catch the games of smaller less known college teams on one of the many streaming options.

 

Alexa, what’s the score of the UConn game?

Amazon Alexa will answer questions related to scores and games. Alexa users also have the option of listening to the radio broadcasts of the games on the device. Westwood One, the largest American radio network, holds radio play-by-play rights for the men’s NCAA tournament, and will broadcast all 67 games on more than 500 affiliated stations, SiriusXM satellite, streaming online, and on mobile platforms.

 

All of these coverage options across media platforms follow a pattern established in the earliest days of radio, that sports broadcasting is traditionally at the forefront of media technology advancement, with high profile sports events being the first programming to use new capabilities. With March Madness, we’re seeing coverage expansion to more streaming channels than ever before, including use of the Alexa voice assist device. As 2017 rolls out, expect to see other new media formats used to give sports audiences a “just like being there” experience. Content delivery networks (CDNs) are poised and ready to deliver the video and audio streaming, so bring it on. Let the games begin.

Reduce the Cost and Complexity of Your Content Delivery Workflows

 

We’re in an on-demand world. Video on demand, streaming audio, web surfing, online shopping, gaming and more – today’s digital audience wants the world on their schedule. They use a wide variety of laptops, tablets, phones, and TV-connected devices, sometimes in conjunction. Tens of billions of hours of content per month are consumed globally. And consumers want a great experience – instant response, high quality, no glitches or delays or interruptions.

 

Collectively, it’s a massive on-demand beast that must be fed.


If you’re a company delivering content, what does it mean to feed that on-demand beast?


The Delivery Network

You want to create a great experience for your audience. You’ve probably learned that the open Internet fails to deliver at scale. As a result, you may already use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), to accelerate delivery to your audience. One of the important advantages of a CDN is that it uses edge cache to temporarily store many copies of popular content at many sites around the edges of the network.


Feeding the Delivery Network

But what if someone requests on-demand content that isn’t stored in the edge cache? In fact, this happens millions of times per day. Edge cache generally contains popular on-demand content – hit movies and videos, new software downloads, new hit songs, popular items on web stores, images and animations from top web pages, and so on.


In practice, the majority of a typical company’s content library isn’t stored in the edge cache. It’s stored on one or more file servers or video servers – origin servers. When a user requests an asset that isn’t in the edge cache, the network needs to retrieve it from origin storage.


The DINAS of Feeding the Delivery Network

How quickly and reliably can you fetch content from origin storage? It depends. Here are some factors that can make a dramatic difference in user experience – I call them the DINAS:

 

1. Distance from the user 
The earth is a big place. If your origin storage is halfway around world from the user, one-way delay could be 300 milliseconds or more – each way. That means the user waits over a half-second just for request and retrieval from origin. You can deliver a much better response time if you have multiple origins in multiple regions, located close to where your users are.


2. Integration with the delivery network
Traffic flow is hampered if it has to traverse different networks, locations and links between the origin and the delivery network. You can streamline and accelerate traffic flow if the origin storage is tightly integrated with the delivery network, especially if it’s collocated in the same sites as edge devices.

 

3. Network from the origin to the user
The open internet has many experience-impacting obstacles. It’s subject to link congestion, node congestion, rerouting, timeouts, retransmissions, and other issues. And of course, the farther your content must travel over the open Internet, the more issues it can face. The good news is you can bypass this with a high-bandwidth private fiber network.

 

4. Availability
There’s simply no way to deliver content if it isn’t available in the first place. Outages can be caused by hard drive failures, network device issues, local power failures, regional network issues, general network congestion, and more. You can ensure availability with redundant origin servers in multiple sites. That way, even if there are issues in one origin site or one network region, the network can fetch the asset from somewhere else.

 

5. Software intelligence
If you have intelligent software that can automatically choose the fastest origin for each user session, you’ll consistently deliver the best possible response.


Feeding the Feeder

Uploading content into your origin storage, and replicating it for multiple regions, can cost significant resources, time, effort, and money. If you have to do numerous manual operations, or develop custom code, or spend time on asset tracking and management, you’ll be inefficient and burn up your money, and burn out your people.


Extra fees are another way to burn through budgets. Low cost storage-at-rest can be tempting, but extra fees can dwarf the cost of basic storage. Depending on your vendor, extra hidden costs can include fees for uploading content, copying it to multiple sites, moving it, retrieving it, transferring it to your delivery network, even requesting a directory list.

 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re delivering video-on-demand, over-the-top (OTT) video, file distribution, gaming, web acceleration, e-commerce, or other content, your origin storage is more important than you may realize.


The optimal choice for origin storage is likely to be designed specifically for content delivery. Flexible workflow will make your job easier. Automated replication to multiple sites ensures delivery wherever your users are located. High speed design and integration with the delivery network will give your users fast response and consistently high quality. Intelligent software will serve content from the fastest site so you delight your audience on a global scale. And of course, you’ll want to deliver great user experience on budget, without hidden fees.


And that’s how you feed the on-demand beast.

This is the second blog in the ARC Light series showcasing the capabilities of Computed Edge Policies. The introduction blog presented an overview of ARC Light, and included a few examples of use cases built around geolocation data. The second blog covered Origin Selection, and this blog will discuss user request modification.

 

Multinational companies inevitably have to solve for language support on their front end. There are many facets to the issue. From translating content to UI/UX work to account for the translated content. It’s a project that requires a lot of time and money. How will the front end know when to serve the appropriate language to the user? It may be an easy question to answer for existing users, but for new visitors, it's a different story.

 

Language Selection by Geographical Location

 

Language selection becomes easy when out-of-the-box CDN functionality is extended by ARC Light. The Limelight CDN provides geographical location information on every request. ARC Light extends the ability of the CDN to modify request headers in real time. A query string or header information can be automatically added to the request so the front end knows which language to display to the user. The CDN maintains the Geo database for actionable data. ARC Light manages the compute layer for modifying the request.

 

Advanced Request Configuration

 

This is a basic example of a request modification using ARC Light. ARC Light has the ability to evaluate any data available within the request header such as URLs, query strings, hostnames, cookies, IP addresses, or custom header data. Complex uses can then be solved within the Advanced Request Configuration to modify any portion of the header using predefined business logic. Simple, Quick, Compute at the edge.

 

More to Come

 

Over the next couple of weeks, several more blogs will be posted highlighting a specific ARC Light use case. Return to this site to read about more ARC Light capabilities.

Live video streaming offers content distributors, broadcasters and other organisations a golden opportunity to excite and engage actively with their audiences. With live video streaming gaining steam from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, integrating this into your strategy is key to staying relevant and remaining competitive. However, audience numbers and behaviour are notoriously difficult to predict. The diverse range of devices make it more challenging than ever to deliver the glitch-free experience that today’s consumers expect. If traffic levels exceed the server’s capacity, you risk providing a sub-optimal live streaming experience.

 

On the specific challenge of implementing live streaming video, Steve Miller-Jones, Senior Director of Product Management at Limelight Networks states: “Broadcasters face increased pressure to make, deliver, and monetise live video to keep up with new competition from social media giants and microblogging sites. More consumers are cutting the cord and that is our new reality. For content distributors to stay competitive, they must prioritize their ability to instantly create a TV broadcast-quality experience for all users. Overcoming internet traffic obstacles for uninterrupted viewing is one way of tackling this challenge. Utilising a densely-architected, global content delivery that offers scalability, reliability, and can adapt to new business models, new markets, and increasingly mobile audiences will guarantee your live video strategy is a success.”

 

We will be at BVE 2017, at London’s Excel Centre, (February 28th– 2nd March). You can visit Limelight at stand K18. BVE is co-located with the Streaming Video Forum, where Limelight’s Steve Miller-Jones will be leading a session on ‘A broadcaster’s guide to optimising live streaming’, on Wednesday 1st March. The talk will offer tips and best practices for building out a live streaming platform to deliver a high-quality viewing experience, covering topics from transcoding and transmuxing to analytics and protecting the live stream.

This is the first blog in the ARC Light series showcasing the capabilities of Computed Edge Policies. The introduction blog presented an overview of ARC Light, and included a few examples of use cases built around geolocation data.

 

We often receive requests from customers with a need to implement custom business logic for selecting the appropriate Origin. Origin selection logic for a subset of traffic based on predefined criteria is a standard use case. These needs are typically fulfilled by out of the box configuration options within the CDN. In some cases, we encounter a need for origin selection based on complex set of rules. ARC Light extends the standard configuration options of the CDN for these cases.

 

Device Updates by Geographical Location

 

A use case we recently encountered for a mobile device manufacturer required directing traffic to alternate origins for software updates depending on the user’s software version and geographical location. The manufacturer maintains origins in the Americas, Europe, and APAC where some are tuned for delivering larger software updates and others are tuned for delivering smaller updates.  

 

ARC Light solves the problem by executing complex business logic at the edge. The Advanced Request Configuration detects the user’s software version by evaluating multiple pieces of data included within the request header. The CDN automatically generates geographical data for the user upon request. ARC Light combines the version information and geographical data to determine the appropriate origin using the predefined business logic if not served directly from cache.   

 

Speedy Deployment of Powerful Configurations

 

ARC Light provides the flexibility to utilize actionable data included in the header such as URLs, Cookies, Query Strings, and Custom tags to apply logic in real time. Configurations are versatile yet quickly built and deployed across the network to provide a powerful tool for origin selection.

 

More to Come

 

In the next couple of weeks several more blogs will be posted highlighting a specific ARC Light use case. Return to this site to read about more ARC Light capabilities.

Directing users to the websites, files, games, images and other types of content they are trying to reach as fast as possible is vital to provide the best user experience. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have been the go to solution for rapidly connecting users to content for over the past decade. Complex data manipulation of user queries by website and application servers are another part of the decision-making process of completing the user connection to specific content. Burdening web servers or application servers with this compute functionality can slow down responses to users.

 

Limelight ARC Light is a new Limelight CDN capability which speeds up  the connection of users to content, and delivery to specific user needs.  ARC Light allows the CDN to use data in user requests to make decisions by using computed edge policies to facilitate real time modifications of client requests and origin responses. Business benefits include speeding users to correct websites for faster transaction completion and enhancing content access security, improving user’s quality of experience, and enhancing brand reputation. The business benefits and capabilities of ARC Light apply to website and any type of content. The complex data manipulations required to perform these actions will be offloaded from your application infrastructure, reducing the latency in this decision process, helping to increase efficiency, and lower the complexity of managing the application or website. The Limelight Advanced Services Team powers the rapid development and deployment of ARC Light computed edge policies, reducing deployment time of complex business logic to the edge from months to days.

 

To better understand the capabilities of ARC Light and the business benefits derived from them, some example use cases include:

  •      Origin Selection: By Geographical Location - A mobile device manufacturer has a software update to push to all devices via a CDN. To deliver the update, the CDN will capture the Geo information and pass it the ARC Light, which will send devices located in China to Chinese origins, devices located in North America to North American origins, etc.
  •      Redirection: Content By Geography - A publishing company has content with licensing restrictions based on location of users. They have content that can only be accessed by users from the US or Australia. When users request content, ARC Light uses Geo lookup data to verify location of the user. Confirmed US-based users are granted access to US content, a user from Australia would be redirected to the library of content available to Australians. Visitors outside the US and Australia are blocked from access.
  •      Request Modification: Language By Geography - An e-commerce company publishes its website in multiple languages. When a visitor from China navigates to the e-commerce site, the geolocation of the visitor is detected, and ARC Light executes a policy to add a query string to indicate the Chinese language version of the site should be utilized. 

 

More to Come

These are a small sample of the Edge Policy Actions that speed users to content that ARC Light can perform. Over the following several weeks, a series of blog posts, each specific to a different ARC Light use case, will expose the variety of tasks that can be performed, improving user experience, enhancing brand reputations, increasing return website visits, and driving increased revenue. See you back here shortly for the next in the ARC Light series of blogs.

There are multiple benefits to knowing where web visitors are coming from. For an ecommerce web site, knowing where potential customers are allows pre-population of country code on forms, displaying different languages, and presenting regional specific content. OTT video services may have licensed content that has limits on where it can be viewed, and geolocation information provides a way to enforce the restrictions. For those of you not familiar with geolocation, it is the matching of an IP address to a geographical location. This third in the series of security technology blogs (the previous two covered DDoS Attack Interception and WAF), will focus on geolocation as it pertains to protecting and accessing content.

 

Where you can get an IP-based geolocation database?

 

There are a several commercially available geolocation databases. Ip2location, MaxMind, and IPligence offer fee-based databases that can be easily integrated into web applications. Most geolocation database vendors offer APIs and example codes in multiple programming languages to retrieve geolocation data from the database.

 

There are also freely available geolocation databases. Some vendors offering commercial geolocation database also offer a Lite or Community edition that provides IP-to-Country mappings. Ip2Country.net and Webhosting.info offer free IP-to-Country databases that can be integrated into web applications.

 

 

How accurate is IP-based geolocation?

Accuracy of geolocation database varies depending on which database you use. According to IPlocation.net, for IP-to-country databases, some vendors claim to offer 98% to 99% accuracy, although typical Ip2Country database accuracy is more like 95%. For IP-to-Region or City, the range is anywhere from 50% to 75% if neighboring cities are included. Considering that there is no official source of IP-to-Region information, 50+% accuracy is pretty good.

 

How Content Delivery Networks use Geolocation data

The primary use of geolocation data by CDNs is to control access to website origins based on user location. In the case of the Limelight CDN, our integrated geolocation database has accuracy down to postal codes and latitude/longitude. For example, a media company live streaming a sports event may have regional blackout restrictions in their licensing agreement. Using geolocation data, the CDN will block access to the streams for users in the blackout region. Most licensed video on-demand content comes with regional viewing restrictions, so delivery CDNs will use the same method as in the live streaming example to enforce the agreements. A very important additional service CDNs perform as part of enforcing regional viewing restrictions, is allowing or denying access if an end user is utilizing a known Anonymizer service. An anonymizer allows a user to disguise their location to gain access to blacked-out content.

 

More to Come

The next blog in this series will cover securing content in motion with HTTPS. Also, there will be more to come about events that may occur related to security issues.  See you here next week!