Live streaming is a booming business nowadays, resulting in the growth of the content delivery network market as well. It is estimated that by the year 2020, over 70% of all internet traffic, including video streaming, will run through content delivery networks, or CDNs. By 2017, over half of the internet traffic was already running through CDNs.
If you want to build a video streaming website, you’ll probably need more than just one server – here is where CDNs step in.
What is a Content Delivery Network?
Simply put, a content delivery network is a system of servers which are distributed all around the world. These servers are used to send files back and forth from your website to your visitor’s device. Think of a CDN as a large network of servers spread all across the world. If you only had one server and wanted to access a live stream, the distance between you and that server would increase latency. But with a CDN in place, your device will connect to the closest possible server, thus reducing latency and making your viewing more pleasurable with little or no buffering.
But it gets better than that – CDNs are distributed strategically around the globe, not in just one country. This means that a user from Germany can access your content as fast as one from the US. Once your content goes live, it automatically gets distributed to all the servers in the network for direct viewing. Not only that, but the media files also remain cached on a local server after a user viewed your content.
CDN Live Streaming Advantages
By using a content delivery network, you are diminishing the time it takes to deliver video streams from your website to the end user’s device. Since a CDN uses more servers, the workload per server is also reduced, which means you are safe from bottlenecks or overloading a server. Content delivery networks offer live streaming websites several advantages, including:
Greater Speed – CDNs deliver low latency content directly to the server closest to your end user, drastically improving speed.
Improved Scalability – This is perhaps the biggest advantage to using a content delivery network. Since CDNs can easily scale, using one is the safest and fastest ways to provide thousands of users with content, without the risk of creating bottlenecks. Due to the way they are built, CDNs can handle spikes in traffic as well as a huge increase of traffic for live events.
Better Quality – When you’re streaming through a content delivery network, you are able to provide your viewers with the best possible video & audio quality and resolution. This system also has another advantage – it limits latency and buffering, providing the viewer with a better overall user experience.
Extra Security – Apart from the advantages outlined above, CDNs also provide an extra layer of security for your website. By streaming through a CDN, DDoS attacks can be avoided by distributing the requests among all available servers. In this case, the CDN serves as a back-up for your original server.
When Not To Implement a CDN
While content delivery networks provide your website with several advantages, using one is not recommended for just about any website. Here are some scenarios where you should postpone implementing a content delivery network:
Limited budgets – Premium CDN costs can vary greatly, depending on the perks they have to offer and your needs. If you just started your website or plan to launch it soon, it’s a good idea to compare different CDNs or even opt for a free CDN.
Local targeting – If you are building your website with only one country or state in mind, then maybe opting for a CDN is not really worth the extra costs. If your server is already very close to your intended viewers, then you can postpone it until you gain more international viewers.
Small scale live streaming – If your website has a limited number of users/viewers then you don’t really need to implement a content delivery network.
Free CDN vs. Paid CDN
You probably heard of different free CDN services by now, but as with most free products, it’s a matter of “you get what you paid for”. These services offer limited support, so implementing them is not that easy, especially if you’re not tech savvy. Premium CDN services do come at a price, but since it comes with full support and better tech specs, it’s well worth the investment, especially if you’re running a large streaming website with lots of traffic.
At WpStream, we implement CDN streaming in a way that’s completely transparent to our users. You do not need to worry which of them to choose, or if you need one at all. We routinely evaluate your viewers’ traffic patterns and run your events or videos against the ideal CDN configuration. We bill you by traffic, so it’s in our best interest to offer the highest possible throughput for your content. And yes, certain events may run on multiple CDNs simultaneously.