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Content Delivery Networks

The bandwidth hogging nature of videos requires that you may need to think of how to bring a seamless experience to your users. Too many video requests and delays on the internet can result in chunky videos and interrupted experiences. If video is a true part of your business, that may not be acceptable. Luckily there are solutions for that, using optimized technology and specialized companies:

  • Streaming Server refers to a dedicated web server, or application installed on a server, that is designed to deliver video or audio files as continuous streams. In streaming, the client starts playing the data (video or audio) as soon as enough data has been received to start playback. When a client seeks in a streamed video, the server only sends the bits the client needs and skips the video parts not needed. The stream can be from a file stored on the web server, or can be live footage. Flowplayer uses a default HTTP streaming provider so even serving a simple file from your (hosted) web server will start playback immediately. Streaming servers can further use a variety of specialized protocols. For example, Adobe’s Flash Media Server uses RTMP, RTMPS and RTMPe. Apple’s Darwin Streaming Server uses RTP, RTSP, etc. You can either host your own streaming server or you can rent the service from a commercial company such as the one hosting your website.

  • Content Delivery Networks (CDN). These are companies that specialize in serving files globally and rapidly. Sometimes the term “high availability” is associated with CDNs. Files are served from the closest server to you. No matter where you are located globally (US, Europe, Asia), the file is loaded from a nearby server thus making it load faster. The idea is that you only have them serve the files that require high bandwidth and quick availability such as media. Instead of a link to a video file on your (hosted) server, you give a link to the CDN storage location; the CDN then redirects the request to the server best suited to serve it. This is the most efficient option when it comes to delivery performance. Video files are delivered with the help of edge servers that are geographically distributed to achieve efficient delivery to every corner of the Internet. This may sound expensive or impossible for you but it really isn’t! Recently we have been using Amazon Cloudfront a lot: It’s easy to set up and provides RTMP and progressive download, plus it’s efficient and reliable.

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