2013-10-05 13:30:00 | CDN Federation Technology

Open Play - the background

During CDN World Summit, Jet-Stream founder Stef van der Ziel introduced Open Play CDN federation in his Keynote speech. This topic was also one of the CDN Academy courses presented during the event.

(Important: read the article About Federation first) and download the slides here (PDF 1.3MB). This article by Stef describes the background of how Jet-Stream conceptualized, materialized and developed full CDN integration:

CDN interconnection has been on our agenda for many years. We built the first federated CDN in 2000 and had taken part of many discussions in the early years of CDN around the concept of federation on all levels: business, strategy, technology, standardization, business logic. However CDN interconnection is one of the hardest problems to solve. It is so complex, because you need to oversee and consider the entire spectrum of the CDN space. The pitfalls are easy, you can completely lose yourself in theoretical business models and scenarios which will never materialize, but you can also very quickly develop a blinding focus on too narrow scenarios. You can completely lose yourselves in feature hell for years, but you can also make too easy architecture decisions that will have dramatic impact in the future, rendering a solution useless when the industry evolves. The CDN interconnection feature was put on our roadmap many years ago but we felt the ideas were not materialized enough to start development. Sometimes it just takes time to execute things right. 

We knew that a locked in Jet-Stream-to-Jet-Stream solution would be a lock-in and unacceptable for the industry. We knew that it would take too much time for standards to become usable and that standards would be limiting us and our customers. We knew that developing a separate translation layer between CDNs was not a good option, too many elements. We also knew that overlaying was too simple, we needed actual integration with CDNs. We knew that a solution should be usable both as an upstream and a downstream CDN.

We also knew that we wanted to treat other CDNs as a logical server node, just as if it was an actual edge server or edge PoP. That was an important decision. Which we actually could do, since we had designed our architecture quite abstracted. We had done quite some core innovations before which helped us implement a true holistic CDN integration environment. Many prior Jet-Stream inventions helped us to implement a true holistic integrated multi-CDN solution:

  • Software only CDN invention: delivery and management in software enables the ability to run on top of commoditized servers: physical, virtual, cloud, and any mix of these
  • Parallelization invention: the ability to support and run multiple applications in parallel on a single node to prevent performance and stability issues when stacking of virtualization on top of virtualization
  • Separation of the data plane and the control plane invention (which is now coined as Software Defined Networking)
  • Reduction of complexity in the data plane (dumb boxes) and an intelligent control plane (active core CDN management system)
  • Abstraction of delivery technologies through APIs invention: the ability to integrate with various delivery technologies on the delivery plane, enabling a homogenous management plane and simplified communication between abstracted layers
  • Intelligent management plane invention, enabling instant intelligence about status and functionality within the underlying data plane
  • Software assigned delivery node roles invention: intake(origin), core, overflow, edge roles
  • Tiered distribution and delivery layers invention: the ability to dynamically send users to multiple layers inside the CDN
  • Active request routing invention: the ability to dynamically send users to delivery nodes per individual request instead of passive low-granular DNS or basic request routing
  • Request analysis invention: active analysis of requests using multiple internal and external parameters to select the most optimal delivery node and layer per individual request
  • Business logic invention: the ability to set dynamic rules and receive external information to optimize the selection of the most optimal delivery node per object request
  • Dynamic caching management invention: the ability to rewrite requests dynamically to support multiple origin services enables easy integration with simplified data planes

Before we started implementing the additional required technologies, I started to analyze business scenarios. Jet-Stream is not a regular vendor that innovates technology, we always start from strategic and business analysis and then R&D technologies that can be optimally used to support these business opportunities. This process took a long time. I've always known we were thinking in the right direction but the ideas were not clear enough to start development.

The ideas materialized beginning this year. Our own StreamZilla CDN service was only focussing on Europe: our customers typically have a European audience and our performance to the US was ok. However a number of customers asked for improved performance in the USA. So we looked at our options:

  1. Deploy a physical edge node. Too expensive for the volumes required
  2. Rent virtual machines through an online hosting provider with US presence. Low cost, fast deployment, pay as you grow.
  3. Offload into Amazon Cloudfront. Low cost, fast deployment, pay as you grow. Required simple integration.
  4. Offload into generic CDNs. Low cost, fast deployment, pay as you grow. Required medium integration.

We decided to kill option one, go for option two in the short term and investigate options 3 and 4 as well. We litterally ordered and paid for the virtual machines through an online store, got access within four hours and two hours later the edges were configured, tested and added to our pool of resources. That is the power of cloud. That is the power of software CDNs.

At around the same time we had meetings with various telecom operators who were sharing their ideas about Network Function Virtualization, and that fully aligned with our ideas to run CDNs on clouds. Jet-Stream demonstrated the ability to run both the control and data planes fully on Amazon years ago. After some technical and business sessions both Jet-Stream and the operators concluded that the need for the complex, expensive and limiting CDN federation standards was rendered useless by the ease of use of commoditized cloud infrastructures. The appliance is dead, CDN federation unnecessary and software CDNs were the future. A future Jet-Stream invented over ten years ago :)

When we started to investigate the capabilities of other CDNs for integration purposes it was actually the first time we encountered the features and APIs of other CDNs. And we had mixed feelings. On one side it was a shock to see how poor the feature set of regular CDNs typically is. You can set some parameters like C-naming and TTL and hopefully you can get some logs out of these systems, but that is about it. If you compare that to our advanced media workflow management environment and rich APIs it's really a shocker. On the other hand we managed to make integrated offloading work with a number of CDNs in a few days time, with some hacks in an isolated development environment: our management system didn't know any better than that it was talking to a physical edge node, while in reality it was an account on a third party CDN. And live streams flowed through. Score!

So we reached out to a number of CDNs and asked them to implement some additional features, or to explain why basic features such as anti-deep-linking token management didn't work according to their documentation, or to ask adjustments to logs, et cetera.

It was interesting to hear that these CDNs were very open to cooperate. We had always seen other CDNs as competition for StreamZilla. However, we started to see other CDNs as commoditized infrastructures which we could use to offload (overflow) to. And they were happy to become a resource supplier they have overcapacity, need volume and liked us adding unique value to their systems.

It also aligned with my vision with StreamZilla: do not invest in commodities, invest in innovation instead. Regular CDNs invest millions in PoPs, operational staff, sales staff. StreamZilla's strategy has always been to outsource commodities and automate everything via software to reduce costs.

And that was where all ideas came together: the ability to really integrate multiple CDNs in a rich CDN management system. Suddenly we could support a whole range of new business options. One of the benefits of running your own CDN is that you pragmatically encounter content owner requests and operational challenges on a daily basis which you immediately can translate into innovations. Not that many vendors who can do that.

The actual development of integrated 3rd party CDN support in our technology took less than three months to implement, including the framework, the enhancements of existing technologies and basic support of a limited number of CDNs:

  • Upgrade of our multi-granular topo/geo system to support multiple granularities (for instance countries and ISPs) at the same time, so we can prioritize small edge nodes within ISP networks over edge definded CDNs that define a larger area (like a country)
  • Rewriting of our caching back-end system to be able to dynamically rewrite inbound requests from 3rd party CDNs to be able to dynamically send their requests to the right origins and the right services (multiple web and caching services) within the Jet-Stream CDN
  • Upgrade from three distribution tiers to four (from intake->core->overflow/edge to intake->core->overflow->edge/3rdpartyCDN
  • Upgrade from three request routing tiers to four (from core->overflow->edge to core->overflow->3rdpartyCDN->edge
  • Added the ability to define accounts on third party CDNs as delivery nodes within the Jet-Stream CDN management system
  • Added support for tokenized access control to third party CDNs to prevent anti-deep-linking
  • Added support for 3rd party access log processing
  • Minor enhancements

We found out that the access logs and the access management tokens were the hardest nut to crack, and they still are with several CDNs. Many CDNs have quite exotic and limited implementations which in some cases makes access control and log processing impossible. We also encountered CDNs who claim to support HTTP adaptive streaming but in reality they have quite some caching issues and also struggle with the Thundering Herd problem for HTTP live streaming. But in general my (amazing!) development team was able to make basic integration and basic functionality work with some CDNs and got things working. Compared to having to implement proposed CDN interconnectivity implementation was a breeze on Jet-Stream side an almost nonexistent on the third party CDNs sides while Jet-Stream can offer much higher standards in terms of features, flexibility and performance.

The most important is that the core foundation for integrated third party CDN support as overflow or edge nodes within the Jet-Stream CDN is fully implemented. No additional screens, no separate tools. Between our list of delivery nodes you will find third party CDNs. Just as if they were always there.

This means that it is now relatively simple to add support for new CDNs and also simple to enhance the feature set with pre-integrated CDNs. And it is very easy to keep adding additional business logic to further optimize costs and performance, and offer more USPs compared to relatively simple overlay systems. Oh and we don't force anyone to run code within clients. CDNs cannot enforce this, remember?

(slides 10 and 11) In less than three months time, our system had become a meta-CDN management system, that allows you to mix all kinds of resources within one CDN: mix physical servers, virtual servers, cloud based servers and 3rd party CDNs as if they are logical building blocks. All our existing logic applies to all delivery nodes. It is not a bolted-on feature. 

All premium features apply, and the CDN management system is intelligent so it knows which services and features are and are not supported per logical delivery resource. It automatically geo load balances requests dynamically over any mix of nodes, including 3rd party CDNs, based upon business logic, popularity, performance and many other static and dynamic values. 

(slides 13 and the rest) Some interesting new business scenarios thanks to Open Play:

  • Load balance requests on-net and off-net to internal and external resources right within one integrated CDN management environment, without the need for separate overlay services or technologies. Operators can offer global capacity to their content provider customers and extremely optimize costs by keeping traffic on-net and sending traffic off-net using smart business rules.
  • Build a massive virtual CDN: host our software on 2-8 cloud servers, use multiple CDNs (pay as you grow) for delivery. No CAPEX, no OPEX. (Let us) deploy (and host and manage) your own competitive feature-rich CDN in weeks at the lowest possible investments.
  • Content providers: load balance over multiple CDNs without the need for negotiating contracts and integrating APIs with multiple CDNs and also with an additional overlay service provider. Just one contract partner with a much richer feature stack compared to simple overlay systems. 
  • Become a broker: sell traffic volumes to content providers, then purchase volumes from the best/cheapest CDN
  • Start a marketplace: sell traffic volumes to content providers, let third party CDNs bid for the volume at the lowest price.

Oh and of course virtually all 3rd party CDNs, clouds and hosted services can be used as a remote origin for the Jet-Stream CDN. So it can also be used as a downstream CDN. 

 

Open Play is the first real CDN interconnectivity technology and it is executed in a beautiful integrated way. Contact us for information and a demo! The new StreamZilla CDN will be the first CDN to operationally implement it. The technology includes many unique Jet-Stream innovations and these are protected. Note that all described technologies are unique Jet-Stream IPR, we explicitly do not give you the right to mimick or replicate any of the described mechanisms or technologies in any way. Jet-Stream is opening up our code through licensing to anyone. Stealing is intellectual poverty. License and let's share innovation! 

 

2013-10-05 07:05:00 | Technology

Jet-Stream releases new CDN technology

Jet-Stream announces the release of 10.8 of its industry leading and award winning CDN software:

  • Integrated support for Wowza Media Server 3.5
  • Integrated support for Unified Streaming Platform
  • Enhanced wholesale / reseller self service management
  • Multi-granular topo/geo end user recognition and active redirection
  • Intelligent caching rerouting engine
  • HTTP adaptive streaming performance analyzer
  • Four-tier distribution (intake, core, overflow, edge / 3rd party edge)
  • Four-tier active request routing (core, overflow, edge, 3rd party edge)
  • Integrated engine to support 3rd party CDNs and cloud services as delivery entities
  • Enforced anti-deep linking for HTTP streaming sessions (including manifests and segmented content)
  • Various minor updates and feature enhancements

The technology is being implemented for the announced StreamZilla CDN upgrade and is available to existing customers, through technology licensing and through code licensing. 

 

2012-10-03 11:19:47 | Technology news Press Release

Jet-Stream unveils new product line

London - CDN World Summit

Jet-Stream unveils new CDN product line

CDN industry thought and technology leader Jet-Stream today announces a new product line to help CDN operators to further reduce costs and professionalize video delivery network services.

Jet-Stream VideoExchange: the premium CDN
J
et-Stream announces the direct availability of VideoExchange 10.7, it's flagship media delivery network management solution. The new release focusses on advanced HTTP adaptive streaming technologies, adding exclusive new features to improve manageability, performance and availability of Apple HLS, Adobe HDS, Microsoft Smooth and MPEG DASH technologies.

VideoExchange 10.7 is being deployed in one of the largest telecom operators in the world, is also being deployed to replace the existing Telenor CDN and existing Jet-Stream licensed and managed customers are going to upgrade to v10l.7 and extend their contracts with Jet-Stream.

VideoExchange is the widest adopted CDN technology with over 30 deployments and brings unmatched broadcast grade technologies that go beyond the best effort technologies that other CDNs and vendors offer.

VideoExchange is a meta CDN that supports a wide range of delivery vendor products, guaranteeing agility, flexibility, 100% compliancy and future proof operation in a volatile industry.

The solution reduces CAPEX and OPEX to the maximum. Jet-Stream is further positioning VideoExchange as the premium CDN solution, raising licensing rates.


Jet-Stream WebAcceleration: high performance, low cost CDN
Jet-Stream announces the direct availability of a new product: Jet-Stream WebAcceleration. This high performance caching and DNS based system is the easiest to deploy and operate CDN solution in our industry. It fully supports retail and wholesale usage and helps content providers hosting providers, telecom operators and CDN operators to offload their web and HTTP streaming platforms, to reduce costs and to monetize CDN services.

Jet-Stream WebAcceleration is going to be deployed in one of the largest telecom operators in the world and can run standalone or side by side with the Jet-Stream VideoExchange solution. The solution is fully webbased manageable and dynamically auto provisions updates to caches and DNS servers.

Jet-Stream WebAcceleration is powered by the popular NGINX caching engine. Most CDNs rely on Squid but that technology is getting outdated. NGINX is used by next generation CDNs including Netflix. Jet-Stream closely works together with NGINX, further tuning and enhancing NGINX for premium HTTP adaptive streaming technologies. Some modules will be open sourced and will be used by one of the worlds' largest global CDNs. Other modules are kept proprietary by Jet-Stream.

Jet-Stream is positioning WebAcceleration as a high volume, lowest CAPEX, lowest OPEX solution. WebAcceleration will be priced very aggressively, allowing anyone to enter the CDN industry, start monetizing content delivery services and start reducing traffic loads in their networks.


Jet-Stream OpenCDN Appliance: future proof, agile, compliant, reliable and high performance.
Jet-Stream unveils 'project EscapeVelocity': The OpenCDN Appliance is a next generation unified media server, offering 20Gbps performance consuming less than 60watt at peak.

The OpenCDN appliance natively runs all popular delivery technologies including NGINX, Wowza Media Server, Adobe FMiS, Internet Information Server, Windows Media Services, Apache and many others.

This native parallel services plugin model guarantees 100% compliancy, future proof operation, maximum agility and flexibility in a very volatile industry that faces disruptive technology changes every 9 to 16 months.

The Jet-Stream OpenCDN appliance is a major upgrade of the unified Jet-Stream XL media server with added tuning and acceleration enhancements. XL Media Server is the first unified media server in the industry, leveraging over 12 years of unbeaten uptime, performance, reliability, future proof guarantee, agility and compliancy.

The Jet-Stream OpenCDN Appliance will be positioned above existing vendor solutions: premium means premium. The Jet-Stream OpenCDN Appliance will be also be made available as a very aggressively priced open components system so CDN operators can use COTS components to minimize costs in the delivery layer.

 

Integrated solution
The Jet-Stream OpenCDN Appliance can be used by both the Jet-Stream VideoExchange and Jet-Stream WebAcceleration CDN solutions, at the same time, further reducing CAPEX and OPEX in the delivery layer.


Stef van der Ziel, CEO of Jet-Stream says that telecom operators, content publishers and CDN operators face three challenges:

"The first challenge is to move from best effort to premium delivery infrastructure to enable end to end SLAs and QoS throughout the value chain. Our VideoExchange solution is the only product on the market that enables this."

"The second challenge is to reduce costs in operations and infrastructure. All our solutions bring maximum efficiency in operation and workflow automation. We also eliminate all costs in overhead hardware and with our OpenCDN appliance we disrupt the industry by enabling flexibility and agility while further reducing costs to the minimum.

"The third challenge is the entry barrier and monetization. Most CDNs have never seen any profitability. Jet-Stream knows how to turn CDNs into profitable businesses and introduces the WebAcceleration at disruptive prices. Our goal is not to sell appliances but to enable anyone to become a profitable CDN."


About Jet-Stream
Jet-Stream researches, develops and licenses next-generation Content Delivery Network (CDN) technologies. These technologies enable publishers, broadcasters and internet providers to scale and professionalize video delivery over the web and mobile networks. Jet-Stream technology is used by many IP network operators around the globe to offload traffic on their infrastructures and to monetize premium content delivery services for three screens IPTV, mobile content, web content and OTT content. The award winning StreamZilla CDN is operated by Jet-Stream. For more information visit www.jet-stream.com and www.streamzillacdn.com


Media Contacts
Caroline van Houten
Marketing, Jet-Stream
Tel +31 50 5261820
caroline@jet-stream.com

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2012-08-07 10:32:42 | Technology

Jet-Stream WebAcceleration

Jet-Stream is proud to announce a new product: WebAcceleration

  • Powered by the industry leading NGINX engine, purpose tuned and optimized by Jet-Stream
  • 20Gbps performance on new 1U <60Watt peak servers
  • Brand new modern core management engine with full automatic cache and DNS provisioning
  • Intelligent geo optimized DNS based request routing engine
  • IPv4 and IPv6 fully supported
  • Easy interface to manage nodes, groups, networks, provision accounts and accelerate websites
  • Deploy, install, configure and go in days!
  • Can share server resources with the VideoExchange CDN
  • ... 

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2012-08-02 10:30:38 | Technology

New Jet-Stream VideoExchange release

Jet-Stream is proud to announce version 10.7 of our industry leading CDN software. This release introduces many new innovative core technologies around HTTP adaptive streaming. 

Commodity or Premium?

 

Virtually all Internet CDNs have a very hard time with monetization of video delivery. Most Internet CDNs are unprofitable; some subsidize CDN service through other revenue streams, for instance, from their connectivity business. Others rely on investor subsidies for their CDN service survival. So if CDNs make money, it has not been from premium video delivery, but rather from their enterprise services, dynamic acceleration and cloud service offers.

Which begs the question; is CDN video delivery now a commodity? Yes, if you buy CDN video delivery capacity from one of any number of large Internet CDNs on a best effort platform, using good enough internet, with best effort caching and best effort request routing with mediocre control panels and APIs. But these are poor services.  Jet-Stream perceives a trend: Investment in internet CDNs video delivery functionality falls: because it is simply profitless. 

Does this mean that all CDNs fail to commercialize video delivery? Not at all!

Telecom operators need CDNs to offer all-screen services and to open their CDNs for wholesale scenarios to for customers and subscribers. These telcos need an on-net CDN anyway and the investments here are backed by IPTV and digital cable revenues. They incur no direct CDN running costs: they already have a network plus next generation CDN technologies enable them to roll-out and operate Terabit-sized CDNs at minimal cost compared to that which Internet CDNs have spent.

StreamZilla, our 100% Jet-Streams' owned CDN platform only delivers video. At profit margins in excess 45% per annum since launch, it demonstrates organic growth of over 1600% during the past five years as proof that profit is possible. How did StreamZilla manage this without the benefits that telcos have? We made a very important decision: innovation.

The Jet-Stream VideoExchange CDN suite is a unique solution, built from scratch for pure, premium media delivery. We deliberately and completely ignored legacy technology choices and invented totally new core CDN technologies for distribution and request routing. Our API's and self service web interface consoles  are designed to integrate media workflow, so that broadcasters tap directly into the CDN and control it as they require. As our core focus is on premium media delivery it means the demands of 99.999% uptime and ultra performance are totally satisfied.

No other CDN vendor offers such simple interfaces, ease of control or intelligence, because their legacy underlying core technologies makes it impossible for them to deliver the same control, granularity and performance that an innovative,  ground up Jet-Stream development gaurentees operators. 

Of course innovative technology is nice if it serves a purpose. Jet-Stream's focus has always been the business case as opposed to your average box vendor: how does technology help telecom operators and broadcasters turn their services into a successful business? A key question Jet-Stream asks repeatedly before we invent new features and launch them to market. 

So going back to the question: are CDNs a commodity? Yes because you can buy video delivery services from many CDNs. The great development in the industry is that the technology is available at low costs, for anyone. It means that telcos and broadcasters can deliver independently. However, commodity also implies that all CDN services are homogeneous. Fortunately, this is untrue as Jet-Stream proves over and over again, since Quality of service (QoS) and rich features differentiate us from other delivery vendors and one which we prove daily against best effort, loss-leading Internet CDNs.

So expect Jet-Stream to continue to innovate video delivery. Just another example of how we take HTTP adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming to a whole new level:

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