Live Streaming CDN: Why a Multi-CDN Strategy is Key to Viewer Experience

By Steven Tripsas on April 08, 2021

Live streaming has exploded since the beginning of 2020. It’s now worth an astounding $184.27 billion – up 99 percent from 2019.

There’s little wonder why. Forrester once found that live video content holds viewer attention ten times longer than pre-recorded videos. Live content feels exclusive, and it produces a stronger sense of connection.

However, all of that explosive growth comes with challenges. Notably, live streaming has always suffered from quality and availability challenges. In response, many companies have turned to CDNs for live streaming.

With a CDN, live streaming becomes much more scalable and improves overall stream and playback performance.

With a multi-CDN, the benefits are compounded.

Here is everything you need to know about live streaming CDNs, and what to look for when choosing a multi-CDN vendor.

Live Streaming CDN: What Is Multi-CDN Delivery?

Ever wondered why it only takes a second to stream a video hosted on a website on the opposite side of the world?

It’s because that content provider is using a content delivery network, or CDN.

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers and services distributed across a wide geographic area to accelerate the rate at which your audience can access your content. Rather than forcing your computer to talk to a server that’s on the other side of the world, you access a “cache server” or “edge node” that’s located much nearer to you. That edge node swaps content assets between other nearby nodes, as well as with the origin server. The result for customers is faster delivery of content and services.

For enterprise customers and large broadcasters, however, a single CDN can be overloaded. This is especially true for live streaming with large audiences. Likewise, smaller companies may find a single CDN inadequate if they wish to operate globally.

In such instances, a multi-CDN becomes necessary.

A multi-CDN involves a combination of several CDNs – usually (but not always) from different providers. Rather than having a single origin server where the content is housed, a multi-CDN leverages several origin servers, each with its own legion of edge nodes in nearby regions. Requests for content are simply routed to the most appropriate CDN to ensure speed and accessibility.

However, if that sounds like a lot of infrastructure, that’s because it is. Multi-CDNs are often expensive to set up, but with the rise of cloud computing, they don’t have to be.

Cloud Computing Makes Multi-CDNs Accessible

Cloud computing has made multi-CDNs much more accessible to non-enterprise customers. Instead of requiring a whole assortment of hardware, a single platform ingests your content and distributes it to origin servers located globally that were already built by the company.

It’s the buy it versus build it argument.

Building your own video infrastructure gives you more control, but it’s slower and more expensive. In contrast, cloud-supported multi-CDNs deliver reliable, fast, high-performing delivery on a global scale – with a faster time to market and guaranteed reliability.

That’s great for both smaller businesses and larger companies that need additional CDN support only some of the time – such as for traffic offloading during live events.

Benefits of Multi-CDN for Live Streaming

A multi-CDN has many benefits, but live streaming is where they become more noticeable.

If you want to deliver a top-notch viewer experience, a multi-CDN becomes more essential the bigger and more spread out your audience becomes. That’s because it:

·   Optimizes costs. A multi-CDN using the cloud has built-in features for reserving resources, managing consumption, plus keeping infrastructure lean and efficient.

·   Improves overall performance. Network availability and latency issues are all but eliminated. Viewers access content faster, with less lag and fewer hiccups.

·   Powers the scaling of products or services. Scaling with a traditional CDN is difficult. In contrast, a cloud multi-CDN can do it automatically according to need in either direction.

·   Enhances service resiliency. If one CDN goes down for any reason, another stands ready to take its place.

·   Increases geographic distribution. Reach your fans no matter where they’re located and give them the same viewing experience as those closest to you.

·   Solves network congestion. A multi-CDN prevents origin servers from becoming overwhelmed and eliminates the risks associated with a DDoS.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Multi-CDN Vendor

As CDNs become commoditized, plenty of vendors have sprung up to meet the need. According to Deloitte, the global CDN market was worth $14 billion in 2020, growing at an annual rate of 16 percent.

CDNs have played an essential role in the explosive growth of the internet and using one is a smart move for companies seeking to expand their content’s reach. However, not all multi-CDN vendors offer the same thing. Here are a few things to ask potential vendors when shopping for a CDN for live streaming:

·   What traffic management options are there? How does your infrastructure support traffic offload to protect my origin servers?

·   How does your service provide observability into the platform? Can I proactively identify when something might go wrong and fix it to prevent a disruption in streaming?

·   How many CDNs are used? How do you ensure consistency and availability during live events?

·   What processes do you have in place to ensure resiliency and continuous service when one or more CDN is down?

·   How scalable is your platform? Will it be able to handle a surge in audience traffic?

·   What security measures do you have in place? Will my live stream be secure from DDoS attacks?

·   How does your infrastructure handle quality challenges, particularly those at the edge? Do you use peer2peer CDNs?

A Better Video Experience For Your Viewers

A CDN can make sure your content stays available, secure, and – most importantly – truly live. By routing traffic to edge nodes, a CDN keeps traffic dispersed and away from your origin server. That means no more network congestion, streaming lag, and quality issues that can drive away viewers.

Multi-CDNs are the way forward for live streaming and thanks to the cloud, it's easier than ever for companies to embrace a Multi-CDN strategy in pursuit of the best possible viewer experience.

Looking to give your customers a better video experience?

With Zype’s Content Delivery you can get enterprise-level CDN support on a global scale. Our multi-CDN approach covers VOD, Live, and Linear video content delivery and  provides amazing geographic coverage across thousands of POPs. It is engineered to be resilient and scalable, so you can stream your video to wherever your customer is, on whatever device they choose.

Harness the power of Zype's video infrastructure