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Five Tips for Choosing the Right CDN for Video Delivery

Blog Post by Steve Milmore, Director Corporate Communications

January 25, 2021

People around the world today are rapidly shifting their video viewing online, and preference for accessing their favorite content is quickly changing as well. Consumers are watching a lot more online video, engaging in a variety of online activities via video, and consuming it on lots of different devices. They still have very high expectations for picture quality and performance even in these unusual times. To provide the best possible streaming video experience, many organizations engage the services of a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

 

CDNs act as distributed servers connected by private fiber links that deliver digital content such as video to the user via service provider last mile connections. This method minimizes latency, or slow response times, and eases the traffic load on a customer’s own network. The closer the CDN server is to a user, the faster the content will be delivered. CDNs also provide protection against large traffic surges, such as when viewers check game scores online or watch a live streaming event. CDNs that have private backbones avoid traffic congestion on the public internet.

 

However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when considering CDN providers for video delivery. There are many options on the market and decision makers need to keep a few things in mind when trying to choose the right one:

Where is your audience located?

The most important thing for an organization is to ensure people have the same quality experience with your video content no matter where in the world they’re located. How well can the chosen solution scale with your business? Do you have a significant end user presence in Korea? In India? Organizations need to ensure that a CDN provider has Points-of-Presence (PoPs) geographically located to reach a global and dispersed audiences.

What are your content security requirements?

If you’re licensing rights-protected video content, you’ll need to enforce rights agreements. Look for a CDN with integrated DRM supporting Google, Microsoft and Apple systems. If protecting content from being intercepted in transit is a priority, you’ll need a CDN that can fully support TLS/SSL encryption. It’s critical that the CDN partner can provide advanced, secure content delivery to provide complete protection against all kinds of attacks.

What services do you require for video delivery?

The two broad categories of streaming video workflows are live streaming and video-on-demand (VOD) . The popular method of live streaming in use today -- HLS and MPEG-DASH chunk streaming – introduces delivery latency that can be unacceptable for some use cases such as including viewer interactivity with video streaming. For VOD, today’s audience expects an instant response and has no tolerance for delays or rebuffers. Select a high-capacity global CDN with a proven ability to deliver streaming live video and VOD with minimal rebuffering.

Does the CDN support personalized content delivery?

A CDN partner who allows you to customize at the edge can bring tremendous value to your business. It’s smart to look for a CDN that offers control over all aspects of content handling such as caching rules, cache keys, performance optimizations, failover behavior, access control, and edge logic. Make sure the CDN solution supports customization and flexibility — and has the network in place to support that functionality.

Is the CDN provider easy to work with?

From a business perspective, it always makes sense to go with a vendor that is transparent and easy to do business with. The right CDN offers teams with a depth of expertise and breadth of experience – teams who have helped stream and deliver the Internet’s biggest events. The right CDN should be able to provide expertly managed video delivery and broadcast services with proactive, round-the-globe monitoring and support – giving its customers access to top-flight specialists in video, mobile, and streaming whenever and wherever needed.

 

In summary, be sure you understand the fundamentals, whether you’re doing live streaming, on-demand or both. Know the trends and engage with partners you can trust. Assess your current capabilities and your gaps. Look for a CDN partner with expertise in video delivery that has the services you need and can support your transition with expert assistance. By considering all of these elements during the vendor-selection process, you will be able to find the right partner for your long-term success.

 

Here’s a detailed CDN checklist for more guidance on choosing the right Content Delivery Network.