Author: Pete Steege

Pete Steege

Digital content delivery requires thinking globally, acting locally

Sending a video to a single employee or a customer is a trivial feat.

Where things get interesting is when the same video needs to be sent to thousands. Or millions. It’s challenging whether streamed live, viewed on demand or downloaded to a device.

This is happening more frequently as video continues on its path to accounting for over half of all network capacity by 2013.

The root cause of this challenge is bandwidth.  The massive capacity of the internet does a great job with level loading network capacity over a large area when a YouTube video goes viral. But it doesn’t help much if the video and/or audience is localized within a company or a specific geography.

There are three options to address the gap between content volume and delivery capacity:

Increase network capacity – This is an expensive option, akin to adding lanes to an interstate highway.  CDNs provide a somewhat cheaper way: a network Commuter Lane for video. Pay extra to rent bandwidth pointed at your targeted users.

Move the content closer to the user – This is the iTunes-like option.  Send the file to a local device, making it available on demand at very high speeds. Doing this without iTunes is not trivial.

Moving content closer to its usage point is not a new idea.  Supercomputers have always had local storage because their petabyte-scale data sets would take a half year to send across an OC-192 channel.

A third option combines the two: use the network to move the content to the user in advance of the need.  Time-shifting network delivery of content allows publishers to exploit available bandwidth and reduce costs.

Whatever your solution, success requires a realistic assessment of how much video needs to get where, and when.  Do users require an HD experience? Do they need to view it mobilely, or offline?

Think about the global needs for delivery, then act locally to put the content where it needs to be for a successful viewing experience.

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