Content Delivery Networks: The backbone of a successful streaming portal

By David Panscik (MASTER OF ACCOUNTS AND LEAD TECHNICAL COMPOSER)

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a geographically distributed platform of servers used to minimize page load delays and increase streaming quality, regardless of a viewer’s physical location.

I recently saw a client try to stream to their audience via their website’s hosting server and it didn’t work well. The server struggled to keep up with demand, and every audience member had excessive buffering issues. It could have been worse: the server could have given up and crashed.

GigRent’s portal has a worldwide CDN backbone, which means that when a user watches a live presentation on the GigStream portal, the portal itself is not serving up the content to the audience member. Rather, the portal sends the live stream to servers out in the CDN, meaning the audience member is actually watching a copy of the live stream from a server that is in the same town or geographically nearby. The heavy lifting is done in the audience member’s local community, resulting in less opportunity for hiccups and glitches compared to audience members watching a stream that is not using a CDN.

Let’s dive into an example of how CDNs work. The GigStream portal originates in Denver. If there are audience members in Los Angeles and Miami, servers in Los Angeles and Miami are sent a copy of the stream from the server in Denver. The servers in Los Angeles and Miami distribute the stream locally and do all the hard work. In this example, the server in Denver only needs to send out two copies of the stream: one copy to Los Angeles and one copy to Miami. Easy.

To target an audience of 2,000 people, it’s a realistic expectation that the GigStream portal in Denver only needs to send out 18-22 copies of the stream to local CDN servers. With a CDN backbone, the main server is not overly tasked. The really hard work happens in each and every local community, decreasing load times and increasing stream quality.