Apr 22, 2011

Cloud and CDN – Enterprise Streaming Empowered by the Combination


The relationship of the Cloud and the CDN is currently an area of intense interest. How will the Cloud relate to the CDN? Will the Cloud be built on the CDN or will the Cloud subsume the CDN? Will the features of CDN (like geo-locating users and replication of data across regions) be carried over onto the Cloud? How can the CDN use the Cloud for extensible and fungible capacity?

One use case that has been of interest for years is the ability to stream into the enterprise (read ‘behind the firewall’). This has long been a problem for large enterprises that would like to enable corporate communications across multiple locations. Companies such as KonTiki have specialized in solving this problem. Adobe® Flash® Media Server 4.0 specifically has features that are focused on ‘Multicasting’ streams using a combination of peer assistance and true multicasting to enable enterprise streaming without bringing down the corporate network. Octoshape has a similar technology solution to solve for this same use case.

While these solutions are fine for working around the limitations of the corporate firewall, they do come with the disadvantages of forcing enterprises to build dedicated infrastructure to support these streaming events. At the very least, there are servers and software that the IT group must support and there are peer programs that are downloaded on local viewers’ boxes. These software assets can cause problems on the users’ systems, and many administrators prefer not to have these applications running in the background on their users’ machines.

So let’s look at another alternative to this scenario. Suppose we have a CDN and a Cloud. Suppose further that that Cloud could be used as an extension of the CDN for additional streaming capacity. Assume that that extensible capacity could be spun up on demand to manage a live event with a huge viral uptake. This extensible CDN feature of the Cloud would be extendable to a private Cloud within the firewall. This private Cloud could also spin up streaming resources from the CDN. These resources could service a live streaming event within and outside the firewall and would know how to spin-down or clean up these resources once the event has transpired. There would be no servers or software specific to streaming events that IT would have to support. They would only need to support the general purpose Cloud and CDN accounts.

This is a different way to think about the future of enterprise streaming than is currently being pursued. But it’s an interesting way. Do you dare imagine a CDN-Cloud that solves your enterprise streaming problems?

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