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Feb 27, 2014

Customer spotlight: Endavo enables OTT content with Internap’s CDN

Ansley Kilgore

As a digital media platform, Endavo helps content providers, TV broadcasters and service providers deliver TV in new and different ways. Internap’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a core component of the back-end infrastructure for content delivery, allowing Endavo to distribute high performance video, live streaming and video on demand (VOD) to global audiences.

Endavo’s digital media management and distribution platform includes three main components:

  • OTT (Over-the-Top) video services platform provides everything needed for content management, content packaging and delivery.
  • Service management allows content providers to create subscription services, rental services or advertising-based services.
  • Live streaming includes live streaming support, as well as catch-up TV.

Endavo also offers web and app development services to provide an end-to-end solution for clients.

Watch Paul Hamm, CEO of Endavo, discuss how Internap’s CDN helps deliver OTT content to global audiences.

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Apr 16, 2013

Cloud and CDN: Friends or Foes?

Ansley Kilgore

Cloud and CDNToday’s online users expect high-quality, ‘anytime, anywhere’ access from a multitude of devices. This presents a challenge for content providers to deliver multiple types of large files, including streaming media, Video on Demand (VOD) and other large files to tablets and smartphones, all while maintaining the high-quality online experience that users have come to expect. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are often used as an efficient way to distribute large amounts of content in this manner.

But with the growth of cloud computing, companies have embraced new, cost-effective approaches to IT Infrastructure. The challenge of scaling is no longer prohibitively expensive, and the ability to scale virtually, on-demand has leveled the playing field for small- and medium-sized businesses to compete with large enterprises for market share. With the substantial performance and cost improvements provided by the cloud, this often leads to the misconception that the cloud alone can maintain the high-quality online experience that consumers demand.

In reality, the cloud and CDNs have specific purposes that make them well-suited to work together.

The cloud is a utility computing platform that consists of large physical stacks of computational resources, or, multi-tenant slices of a pre-built mass computational array. This type of dynamic computing power is ideal for processing big data and business intelligence problems, and evolved from the concept of mainframes in a past decade.

CDNs are utility delivery platforms that specialize in one-to-many distribution as opposed to the two-way interactive exchange performed by utility computing platforms. In contrast to the cloud, CDNs are designed specifically to deliver content from servers to the end-users as part of a repeatable process.

High-performance content delivery is a must for websites or online applications serving geographically-dispersed end users. Using the cloud and a CDN together creates a holistic system that meets the demands for content delivery as well as economical computing power. This best-of-both-worlds combination results in an optimal online user experience when incorporated into your IT Infrastructure strategy.

To learn more about the specific purposes and benefits of CDNs and the cloud and how these two platforms work together to meet the content delivery needs of today’s online users, download our white paper, CDN: A Cloud Accelerant.

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Apr 5, 2013

Capture the excitement of March Madness with CDNs

Ansley Kilgore

Capture the excitement of March Madness with CDNsThis year’s March Madness basketball tournament has been among the most exciting in recent history. If you talk to the sports pundits, it’s because schools like Florida Gulf Coast told the classic Cinderella story with plenty of style. But if you talk to your friendly neighborhood tech geek, you’ll hear a different message – “It’s all about the technology behind the content delivery.”

I mean really, who’s watching for the basketball? The exciting part is that anybody can hop on the web and watch any game, live, in high definition. It doesn’t matter if you are the office, walking the dog or sitting on the couch – if you have a web-enabled device, you can capture the excitement of college basketball’s most storied event. That’s something to get pumped up about.

A realistic look at CDN use for March Madness
Ok, like most people, you’re probably watching March Madness because of the basketball and storylines, not to gawk at the excellent performance of the Content Delivery Network (CDN) distributing the games over the web. But the CDN could be having a legitimate impact on your excitement. The difference, simply, is that fewer people have to miss any of the action. If you can’t be in front of the TV, you can grab a smartphone or tablet and watch the game. Thanks to CDNs, one of the world’s most popular sporting events is more accessible than ever.

What can businesses learn from this?
There is incredible value in high-quality accessible video, for your employees and customers. If you want to get your workforce excited about a new technology or initiative, they are probably going to be more interested in watching a well-directed video about the solution than in reading a long email detailing its features.

The same goes for customers. Video traffic is skyrocketing on the web, and the trend toward video as an effective communication tool is clear. However, not many people will tolerate video that takes too long to load, runs at low resolutions or has to stop and buffer periodically. Both businesses and consumer users are more likely to turn your video off if it doesn’t perform well.

A CDN can alleviate this burden. As one of the most popular sporting events in the country, March Madness generates a lot of attention and plenty of page visits. Using a CDN allows content providers to stream content to a large number of users without worrying about performance problems. This is made possible by reducing the load on origin infrastructure and maximizing data transit speeds.

To learn more about how CDNs can help deliver high-quality video content, read our CDN Overview.

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Mar 26, 2013

Jolokia’s live streaming event success story

INAP

Jolokia’s live streaming event success storyWhat does it take to deliver a successful live streaming event? As an Internap partner, Jolokia provides support for delivery of live and on-demand rich media. In today’s blog, Mark Pace, CTO of Jolokia, shares details about a client’s recent live streaming event and also discusses the challenges that providers must address to successfully deliver streaming content online.

In January 2013, three months of planning and testing ended with a brilliant reveal of a new automobile at the Detroit Auto Show. The live streaming event lasted a beautiful 11 minutes and was viewed globally over 600,000 times. While the stress involved matched the number of viewers, all our planning and testing paid off in the end and the event went as planned.

To deliver a successful online event to this many people, the video stream was shared via the manufacturer website, dealer websites from across the globe, and Facebook. We used Flash adaptive technologies and transmuxing to HLS, which provided the stream in a maximum of HD 1280×720 to both desktop and mobile devices. Using this adaptive technology along with the transmuxing allowed us to reach as many devices as possible under differing network conditions, including home cable connections and mobile viewers.

Finally, with our sights set on breaking half a million views, we knew we needed a solid global Content Delivery Network (CDN) with adaptive Flash delivery, transmuxing, stability and scale. Internap, our close partner for over a decade, filled these needs perfectly. And, in addition to supporting us through the purely technical requirements, they joined us for many of the planning calls and remained on the video streaming tech conference call before and during the event. This kind of support gave us and our auto manufacturing customer the peace of mind needed to survive the stress that goes into a production of this sort.

Challenges to successful live events
Let’s face it – mobile and live streaming capabilities only work consistently on one vendor’s mobile devices right now. Treading the waters that are now… read this… worse than they were when video streaming first became available in the ‘90s is unbelievable. Waiting for MPEG-DASH to emerge as the standard for online mobile delivery is equally disturbing, when all the technologies to get live streaming working to almost all mobile devices are available now. Not that any of the industry giants will read this blog and take this to heart, but seriously, H.264 and HLS work now, and you can implement that while waiting for our greater needs and dreams to be serviced by DASH. Need I mention that almost all devices have H.264 hardware decoders in them specifically for this?

Lessons learned
Because of the inconsistent live streaming capabilities on mobile devices right now, we would want to dive much further into our device detection before our next event. This is extremely painful because there are hundreds of devices, each with differing versions of software. Putting together the matrix for these devices will take months, but considering the viewership levels, it will be worth it. Having reliable fallback videos that continue the video experience and warn users to wait for the on demand content are a must on the next go.

Moving targets: Social media obstacles
Social sites are rapidly evolving beasts that show no chance of slowing their furious pace. Because social networking sites make regular updates and changes, the window of time to test out the latest technologies on these sites is short. This will continue to be a pain point going forward, and having a well-developed test plan that can be modified easily and executed on short order is currently the only stop gap for this challenge.

Delivering a successful live streaming event requires careful planning, and the flexibility to adapt your plan to emerging technologies. Internap’s global CDN allows us to stream transmuxed VOD and deliver high-quality online events with low latency, which in this case resulted in more than 600,000 views. The support of a trusted partner also helps address the challenges regarding mobile capabilities and social media site changes.

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