How local video caching reduces CDN costs while improving QoE
Quality of Experience can greatly impact video consumption. The usual approach consists of content providers relying on a CDN as a service operator to take the content and make it available to the viewers via the internet. However, everything does not always run smoothly once the video leaves the content provider’s premises.
History shows that content providers can suffer extensively from the bad relationship existing between their CDN provider and an NSP. If the transit contract agreement does not fulfill the expectations of one or the other party, the impact on the QoS can be significant, resulting in poor services and drops in content consumption.
CDN as a service providers charge their customers based on the volume of content that they deliver for them every month. The prices are usually negotiated based on an agreement. The higher the commitment level by the content provider, the lower the price per GB of data. If a television show is successful, with many people watching live at the same time, it can become quite expensive for the content provider. To deliver the content in good conditions, with the highest bitrate possible, the content provider will have to pay the CDN service provider a lot.
This can become an issue, especially with unpredictable live content peaks, and an even bigger problem for 4K content, as it requires each end-user to have 10 Mbps or more of bandwidth for the duration of a movie or a sports event.
Broadpeak proposes to solve these two issues through its local cache solution called BroadCache Box.
A few major content providers, like Google, Netflix and Apple, have already tackled these issues by deploying their own CDN. Google and Apple have invested in datacenters to host their own streaming servers, signed transit and peering agreements with transit operators and network service providers and, joined by Netflix, have proposed to deploy their own cache servers in the premises of operators. By doing so, they have gained the control over the quality of content that is delivered.
However, this requires heavy investments in R&D and in operation, in terms of building the appliances, developing the right architecture, and managing the shipment, installation and maintenance of equipment in thousands of locations throughout the world. Most content providers cannot afford this type of investment.
Broadpeak’s objective is to make this approach affordable for all content providers by proposing a turnkey solution.
The solution principle
As an expert in CDN solutions that have been deployed for more than 75 network operators worldwide to deliver dozens of petabytes of video content per month, Broadpeak is putting its knowledge gained in the field to good use and creating a video caching solution for content providers. Broadpeak’s solution is deployable in the premises of the network service providers where most of the traffic goes, or where they want to optimize the delivery of content.
The solution consists in a system of local caching servers, BroadCache Boxes, which are able to capture the most popular video content from a specific provider and stream it to viewers attached to the network service provider. The solution works for both live and on-demand content. The most popular video-on-demand content can be captured on the fly in the BroadCache Box and streamed to viewers. A settable threshold specifies the number of times content must be requested to be considered popular and cached. This enables content providers to avoid caching content that will be requested only a few times.
– This approach optimizes the quality of content delivery: The content is streamed from a location closer to end-users, which reduces risks of bandwidth fluctuation. The agreement between the CDN service provider and the operator mainly concerns a contribution link and the “tsunami effect” of videos invading the operator’s network and shaking its input link is avoided.
– This approach optimizes the cost of the delivery: The content provider pays the CDN as a service mainly for a contribution link for its most popular content, which can represent anywhere from 80 to 99 percent of the streams. The cost reduction is very consequent and directly proportional to the percentage of content cached locally.