CDNs for Satiating Online Video Demand

By Enterprise Security Magazine | Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The increasing dominance of the Internet and the demand for mobility have raised the user expectations to an unprecedented level. Content users expect not only engaging and relevant content but also delivery at the lightening speed. As the video is at the forefront in the race for the most preferred content form, its delivery proffers a great challenge to the content providers across the globe. Video content delivery also acquaints content providers to the real world problems in terms of information delivery and impels them to adopt new techniques in video broadcasting. These factors are changing the paradigms of content delivery and it will be interesting to know how content providers are coping up with technical challenges and user expectations. Though cloud service was the first choice when it came to video delivery, technical bottlenecks and commercial implications served as eye openers for the content generators. If a video gets buffered even for second or two, probability is high that the viewer might stop viewing it altogether. To avoid this unwelcome situation, broadcasters and content generators are nowadays relying on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Today, CDNs facilitate majority of the data transfer. If we delve deeper into the working of CDN then it will be an insightful journey for the proponents of cloud services, who assign more weight to ease of access. As a distributed network of servers, CDN addresses requests for content in real time. Bridging the gap between the content server and the consumers, CDN leverages the power of the Internet and bestows it to the end user. Servers—as the integral constituent of CDN—are present in different geographic locations around the world and they serve the request in accordance with the proximity of the user from a server in the network. The content is stored in cache memory of servers based in multiple locations and they facilitate quick content delivery instead of tedious cloud based service that initiates to and fro request transfer. Superficially, the content delivery seems a simpler task with CDN, but in-depth discussion would give us a complete idea about intricacies overcome by it. Rendering videos and other forms of dynamic content requires robust mechanisms that would reduce the page load times. Again, the dynamic content cannot be cached, but by maintaining connection proximity, the Gordion knot has been untied. As CDN can allow and manage connections closer to the content user and route back to the application origin. Eventually, the content provider can provide a gateway to e-commerce site, security, and other services that involve dynamic content.

Success of CDN depends on location of data

CDN maintains code of application and other related resource in origin servers and alters the information that resides in the cache memory of other servers in the network. Now, the content provider can easily decide the delivery and storage of application irrespective of requestor’s location. CDN not only transforms the content delivery but also acts as a great mechanism against cyberattacks. The role of a content provider is to ensure safe and secure delivery of their content. Like any other network, CDN has the advantage over the cyberattackers, especially DDOS attackers. As the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks are growing by the day, CDN serves as a firewall against them for several reasons. With their exhaustive bandwidth, CDN raises a challenge to DDOS attacker in the consumption network bandwidth. Acknowledging the fact that the frequency of DDOS is going to increase, CDN providers offer special services to curb DDOS attacks.

Scope for improving CDN performance

Researchers have been continuously trying to enhance the performance of CDNs and allow CDN solution providers to cope up with the user demands. Turning every user into a server is relatively new concept that has been gaining audience. The core principle is to shift the bandwidth load from CDN infrastructure to content consumers’ systems. Though researchers are yet to explore all technical aspects, the idea really offers new window for enhancements in CDN arena.