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2017

This week, Limelight announced updates and new capabilities for its industry-leading origin storage solution for CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) -- including 25GB of free storage for new customers and many existing customers.  Let’s drill down on some of Limelight’s announcements.

 

Focus on CDN Origin Storage

Companies that deliver great user experience understand the value of origin storage – whether it’s for video-on-demand, file distribution, web acceleration, gaming or e-commerce. Origin storage is where content delivery networks (CDNs) go to retrieve files that aren’t in edge cache. Some have tried using ordinary general-purpose cloud storage as their origin storage, but with mixed results. The user experience can be unpredictable, and too often underwhelming. And the time and resource burdens on the company can be significant, whether it’s manual management, or custom-developing CDN-specific features. 

 

Limelight has a better way, offering a rich CDN origin storage solution as a service. With high-performance storage sites around the world, collocated with edge cache devices and egress to ISP’s, interconnected by a high-speed private fiber network, Limelight Origin Storage Services is one of the largest, fastest cloud storage solutions in the world.

 

And it’s the best at one thing: delivering content.

 

To reflect this focus, Limelight Cloud Storage Services have now been renamed Limelight Origin Storage Services.  The new name sharpens the focus and value on content delivery, where origin storage plays such a critical role.

 

Now let’s look at the groundbreaking new feature set just announced.

 

 

Listen to Your Customers, Then Please Them – All Automatically

If you’re a company with content to deliver, it’s a critical question: What content does your audience value? And wouldn’t it be great if you could automatically accelerate the exact content your audience values? Not by analyzing historical data, not with time-consuming polls, not by guesswork – but completely automatically.

 

That’s exactly what Limelight’s unique new Intelligent Ingest does in Load On Demand mode. Each time a user requests content that isn’t in the CDN, it’s automatically retrieved from current origin and delivered – and also stored in Limelight Origin Storage for future requests. You have controls like the ability to specify maximum concurrency and bandwidth. Other than that, set it and forget it – audience popularity determines which content migrates to accelerated Origin Storage.

 

The other mode of Intelligent Ingest, Manifest Upload mode, automates upload based on a list of content you provide. You can migrate all your content, or just selected portion of it, with control over total migration time and rate of ingest up to 10 TB/day.

 

Consistently Deliver Industry-Best Performance

Limelight Origin Storage is a distributed object-based storage system, which is tightly integrated with the Limelight private CDN and optimized for superior content delivery. From January 1 to March 23, 2017, public data from independent real user measurement solution Cedexis shows Limelight Origin Storage is 92 percent faster on average than cloud storage offerings. Internal Limelight testing has shown performance improvements of up to 200 percent for specific customer workflows.

 

Automatic High Availability at No Extra Charge

Recently, an estimated 150,000 websites, applications, and business-critical software stopped working properly for several hours. The impact was significant in lost dollars, lost audience trust, and more. The problem was caused by a network service outage in one regional location, yet it had massive global impact. Why? Lack of multi-regional redundancy with the ability to fail over on retrieval.

 

Limelight ensures high availability -- and high performance -- in two critical ways, automatically.

 

Automatic Replication. On ingest, at no extra cost, Limelight automatically creates multiple redundant copies close to your audience. Just choose from a menu of regional policies based on where your audience is located.

 

Automatic Best-Site Retrieval with Failover. On retrieval, Limelight automatically fetches from the fastest site, and redirects from slow or offline sites without the user even knowing anything is amiss. Ordinary cloud storage services don’t offer such automation.

 

Exceptional Multi-CDN Performance

Increasingly, companies are using multiple CDNs to deliver their content. Limelight’s unique globally connected approach gives multi-CDN customers exceptional Origin Storage performance, availability and automated workflow for all their CDNs. Customers don’t just get fast distributed storage; they get the full benefit of Limelight’s’ global private-fiber CDN to transport the content for handoff to the selected CDN. It’s ideal as the primary or backup origin for any delivery service or CDN.

 

Experience the Benefits Yourself

And so, the best just got better. With Limelight Origin Storage Services and new Intelligent Ingest, you can easily add new content, monitor usage, manage the lifecycle, and deliver an exceptional customer experience every time.

 

To encourage everyone to experience the benefits of Limelight Origin Storage Services, Limelight is now offering 25GB of free storage to all new customers and current Content Delivery customers who do not currently use Limelight storage. More details are available at the Limelight Origin Storage web page.

Our digital lives increasingly depend not just on our devices, but on the networks and cloud services behind the scenes. People use and enjoy these services and take them for granted -- until there’s a disruption. When outages occur and people feel the impact, the failure of technology takes center stage. With recent attention to high-impact outages, let’s take a moment to talk about the topic, and how companies can easily protect themselves.

 

What happens with outages and their impacts?

There are two answers to this question. One answer doesn’t matter; the other answer makes all the difference.

 

It doesn’t matter what caused any particular outage. Outages happen. Network outages have been caused by equipment problems, power failures, human error, weather, fire, vandalism and squirrels. It’s inevitable that outages will continue to happen.

 

What does matter is that it’s easy to dramatically reduce or prevent the negative user impact. In one recent case for example, a network service outage occurred in one regional location, yet it had massive global impact. Why? Lack of multi-regional redundancy. The service provider didn’t offer an easy, cost-effective option to replicate data to multiple regions. The websites that eventually suffered relied on one service site with no failover. When that one site went down, the websites failed to deliver for an extended period of time.

 

No Extra Cost: Buttons, Belt, and Suspenders

Limelight is leading the way in protecting digital companies and user experience. At no extra cost, Limelight Origin Storage Services automate redundancy on both upload and download. When companies upload content, Limelight streamlines your operations with automated replication to multiple sites. When users download the content, Limelight ensures fastest delivery with automated performance testing and failover to the fastest site. Because it’s automated, it’s easy and nearly foolproof. By contrast, some cloud storage providers charge hefty fees to replicate to different regions, and don’t offer automatic replication or failover. Unfortunately, their customers can suffer severe business impact as a result.

 

With Limelight, even if one storage site were to suffer a similar outage, users would never even know that anything was amiss. Behind the scenes, Limelight would automatically switch to another site that has the data, and deliver. 

 

For companies, setup is a simple one-time selection of policies based on where your audience is. For example, if your audience is global, you can choose a policy that replicates content to storage sites in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific. If your audience is mostly in the United States, the US policy replicates to multiple sites around the country. And yes, you can have different policies for different content libraries, and you can change policies any time.

 

In the future, whenever you upload new content, Limelight will automatically replicate it with multi-site redundancy to the regions you specified.

 

When your audience requests content that needs to be retrieved from origin storage, Limelight ensures delivery.  First, the system tests the redundant origin storage sites to see which responds fastest. Usually, the closest site wins and delivers the content. But what if the closest site is experiencing problems? Whether it’s simply slow delivery, or a regional outage, your audience will usually never know. Limelight’s system will automatically determine the fastest redundant site and deliver from there.

 

Do you have a multi-CDN strategy? Whether you use multiple Content Delivery Networks (CDN) or Limelight’s CDN, you’ll enjoy high availability, performance and automation. Limelight Origin Storage Services can be configured to act as primary or backup origin to all your CDN’s. While the best end-to-end performance will generally use the Limelight CDN, rest assured that your best practices and risk diversification are supported.

 

Finally, Limelight offers the best support in the industry with knowledgeable experts available 24/7/365. Some cloud storage providers do not offer live support, requiring customers to rely on email to address critical situations.

 

Limelight Origin Storage Services were specifically designed to meet the unique challenges of delivering digital content anywhere in the world, with the highest performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness.  Make sure you know the facts when choosing this critical component of your web infrastructure.  And most of all, be sure not to have a single point of failure.  Outages don’t need to happen to your business.

While e-commerce was once just about duplicating the in-store experience, today it has evolved into so much more. Retailers are now expected to deliver fast, personalized shopping experiences featuring rich media and video on any device wherever and whenever the customer chooses. These changes have introduced a host of challenges for retailers, but they also offer significant opportunities to improve customer conversion and retention.

 

 

Scalability & Availability

Unfortunately, customer demand fluctuates throughout the year.  The holiday shopping rush or the release of a hot new item may cause customer demand and the strain on your web infrastructure to spike.  Meeting these spikes in demand makes the difference between capitalizing on the opportunity or losing potential revenue.  In addition, unplanned downtime can significantly impact sales as customers may not wait for your site to come back online and decide to purchase elsewhere instead. 

 

Your infrastructure needs to scale on demand to help support these spikes in traffic.  It also needs to be redundant and geographically dispersed to overcome any potential issues or outages in a specific location. A recent outage of Amazon’s S3 cloud storage in a single location in Virginia impacted 54 of the top 100 US retailers according to the web monitoring company Apica.  Companies that stored all of their content in that single location were not able to serve their customers.  The financial impact to these retailers was significant.  When deciding how to improve your e-commerce infrastructure, choose a partner such as Limelight who provides cost-free replication of all your web content in multiple locations and will serve content to your customers from the fastest location.  This ensures optimal customer experiences and insulates you from failures of any portion of your content delivery infrastructure.

 

Performance

Recent consumer research by Limelight Networks shows 21% of consumers will abandon a website if pages take 3 seconds or longer to load.  A report from Soasta found a 100-millisecond delay in load time can bring down conversion rates by up to 7%.  Customers are increasingly expecting faster online shopping experiences.

 

Your content delivery infrastructure must have the scalability and reach to quickly serve customers from locations that are as close as possible to the customer.  Caching of static content such as product images can significantly improve page-load times.  In addition, middle-mile acceleration and support for the latest protocols such as HTTP/2 can greatly improve web performance.  Another important consideration for ensuring the fastest online e-commerce experience is to choose a partner who has high cache efficiency for delivering static content, can serve content from multiple locations or quickly access cached content from another location, and the ability to optimize the delivery of content to a customer’s browser.

 

Omnichannel

Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to make online purchases.  comScore reported mobile commerce grew 44% during the 2016 holiday shopping period.  Adobe reported mobile phones accounted for 36% of online shopping during the 2016 Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping weekend.  Customers are increasingly using both mobile devices and desktop computers to perform research before making a purchase on the device of their choice or even in-store.   

 

Customers expect a high-quality shopping experience on any connected device.  A recent survey by Limelight Networks shows 50% of consumers expect web pages to load just as fast on a mobile device as on desktop or laptop. When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they provide a high-quality experience for customers, regardless of the device type they are using.  Capabilities such as Device identification with configurable actions based on results lets you customize content by device and accelerate site performance on mobile phones, tablets, PCs—virtually any type of device.

 

Security

Malicious hacking, cyber-attacks, and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have accelerated in frequency and scope.  The NTT Group's 2016 Global Threat Intelligence Report indicates the retail industry faces more attacks than any other industry.  In fact, retailers face three times as many attacks as the financial services industry, the second most targeted group.  KPMG’s 2016 Consumer Loss Barometer survey indicates 19% of consumers would not go back to a retailer that has been hacked, even after the issue had been resolved

 

Downtime and slowdowns from DDoS attacks cause lost revenue, while hacking and other security breaches can expose customer data and negatively impact your brand reputation and customer retention.  Make sure your content delivery partner offers integrated security capabilities to help you monitor potential DDoS attacks as well as provide scrubbing of requests during attacks.  In addition, deploy a Web Application Firewall (WAF) between your CDN and your origin web servers so it won’t impact the performance of your site.  By doing this, only requests that need to be filled by your web servers (not requests for cached content) are inspected by the WAF, significantly improving performance while still providing maximum security.

 

Video & Rich Media

Customers increasingly expect an engaging online experience.  Videos and other rich media make it easier to learn about products, gain additional insight, and instill confidence prior to purchase.  In addition, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) are starting to become more common.  Many retailers are experimenting with VR to provide a more engaging online experience. 

 

Recent research by Limelight Networks shows 79% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand to a friend if they had a positive experience with its web site.  When choosing a content delivery partner, make sure they offer an integrated online video platform that makes it easy for you to upload and manage video content.  Capabilities such as device detection at the network edge and identification of incoming requests allow automatic conversion of video content into the appropriate format for the customer’s device.  In addition, auto-detection of a customer’s browser, OS, device, and connection speed make it easy to provide a rich video playback experience.

 

The Solution to Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences

The pressure is on for retailers to provide exceptional online experiences that deliver the reliability, consistency, and performance customers demand while providing the security and availability you need.  Limelight is here to make it easier to address these e-tail challenges and maximize revenue.

 

Webinar - Overcoming eTail Challenges to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences

Join Limelight Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00pm EDT for a live webinar as we review the technical challenges that impact your ability to deliver exceptional e-tail customer experiences and strategies for overcoming them.

This week kicks off the most exciting time of the year, for college basketball fans, with the 2017 NCAA men’s Division 1 tournament set to swing into action. As in previous years, new options to watch games, including the ability tune into more games, are part of broadcaster’s efforts to step up with innovative ways to satisfy viewers. However it challenges video infrastructures.

 

Following in the path of last year’s tournament coverage, the popular March Madness app delivers fan friendly features, including streaming every game for free. CBS and Turner will provide live streaming access across a record 15 different platforms, including Fire, Roku, Xbox, Apple TV, and Amazon’s Alexa. For a complete guide to game streaming options, read this c|net article. Access to sports and other live events is a significant concern for Millennial males, with 20 percent saying they would not cut the cord until more live content becomes available online, compared to just eight percent of the population as a whole. An important addition to online viewing options for sports is ESPN’s streaming support. On the broadcast TV side – TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV provide exclusive live, national coverage of all 67 NCAA Tournament games across the 4 networks. All these options mean viewers can watch more games than any previous March Madness. Instead of one game every four hours, you can even catch the games of smaller less known college teams on one of the many streaming options.

 

Alexa, what’s the score of the UConn game?

Amazon Alexa will answer questions related to scores and games. Alexa users also have the option of listening to the radio broadcasts of the games on the device. Westwood One, the largest American radio network, holds radio play-by-play rights for the men’s NCAA tournament, and will broadcast all 67 games on more than 500 affiliated stations, SiriusXM satellite, streaming online, and on mobile platforms.

 

All of these coverage options across media platforms follow a pattern established in the earliest days of radio, that sports broadcasting is traditionally at the forefront of media technology advancement, with high profile sports events being the first programming to use new capabilities. With March Madness, we’re seeing coverage expansion to more streaming channels than ever before, including use of the Alexa voice assist device. As 2017 rolls out, expect to see other new media formats used to give sports audiences a “just like being there” experience. Content delivery networks (CDNs) are poised and ready to deliver the video and audio streaming, so bring it on. Let the games begin.

Reduce the Cost and Complexity of Your Content Delivery Workflows

 

We’re in an on-demand world. Video on demand, streaming audio, web surfing, online shopping, gaming and more – today’s digital audience wants the world on their schedule. They use a wide variety of laptops, tablets, phones, and TV-connected devices, sometimes in conjunction. Tens of billions of hours of content per month are consumed globally. And consumers want a great experience – instant response, high quality, no glitches or delays or interruptions.

 

Collectively, it’s a massive on-demand beast that must be fed.


If you’re a company delivering content, what does it mean to feed that on-demand beast?


The Delivery Network

You want to create a great experience for your audience. You’ve probably learned that the open Internet fails to deliver at scale. As a result, you may already use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), to accelerate delivery to your audience. One of the important advantages of a CDN is that it uses edge cache to temporarily store many copies of popular content at many sites around the edges of the network.


Feeding the Delivery Network

But what if someone requests on-demand content that isn’t stored in the edge cache? In fact, this happens millions of times per day. Edge cache generally contains popular on-demand content – hit movies and videos, new software downloads, new hit songs, popular items on web stores, images and animations from top web pages, and so on.


In practice, the majority of a typical company’s content library isn’t stored in the edge cache. It’s stored on one or more file servers or video servers – origin servers. When a user requests an asset that isn’t in the edge cache, the network needs to retrieve it from origin storage.


The DINAS of Feeding the Delivery Network

How quickly and reliably can you fetch content from origin storage? It depends. Here are some factors that can make a dramatic difference in user experience – I call them the DINAS:

 

1. Distance from the user 
The earth is a big place. If your origin storage is halfway around world from the user, one-way delay could be 300 milliseconds or more – each way. That means the user waits over a half-second just for request and retrieval from origin. You can deliver a much better response time if you have multiple origins in multiple regions, located close to where your users are.


2. Integration with the delivery network
Traffic flow is hampered if it has to traverse different networks, locations and links between the origin and the delivery network. You can streamline and accelerate traffic flow if the origin storage is tightly integrated with the delivery network, especially if it’s collocated in the same sites as edge devices.

 

3. Network from the origin to the user
The open internet has many experience-impacting obstacles. It’s subject to link congestion, node congestion, rerouting, timeouts, retransmissions, and other issues. And of course, the farther your content must travel over the open Internet, the more issues it can face. The good news is you can bypass this with a high-bandwidth private fiber network.

 

4. Availability
There’s simply no way to deliver content if it isn’t available in the first place. Outages can be caused by hard drive failures, network device issues, local power failures, regional network issues, general network congestion, and more. You can ensure availability with redundant origin servers in multiple sites. That way, even if there are issues in one origin site or one network region, the network can fetch the asset from somewhere else.

 

5. Software intelligence
If you have intelligent software that can automatically choose the fastest origin for each user session, you’ll consistently deliver the best possible response.


Feeding the Feeder

Uploading content into your origin storage, and replicating it for multiple regions, can cost significant resources, time, effort, and money. If you have to do numerous manual operations, or develop custom code, or spend time on asset tracking and management, you’ll be inefficient and burn up your money, and burn out your people.


Extra fees are another way to burn through budgets. Low cost storage-at-rest can be tempting, but extra fees can dwarf the cost of basic storage. Depending on your vendor, extra hidden costs can include fees for uploading content, copying it to multiple sites, moving it, retrieving it, transferring it to your delivery network, even requesting a directory list.

 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re delivering video-on-demand, over-the-top (OTT) video, file distribution, gaming, web acceleration, e-commerce, or other content, your origin storage is more important than you may realize.


The optimal choice for origin storage is likely to be designed specifically for content delivery. Flexible workflow will make your job easier. Automated replication to multiple sites ensures delivery wherever your users are located. High speed design and integration with the delivery network will give your users fast response and consistently high quality. Intelligent software will serve content from the fastest site so you delight your audience on a global scale. And of course, you’ll want to deliver great user experience on budget, without hidden fees.


And that’s how you feed the on-demand beast.

This is the second blog in the ARC Light series showcasing the capabilities of Computed Edge Policies. The introduction blog presented an overview of ARC Light, and included a few examples of use cases built around geolocation data. The second blog covered Origin Selection, and this blog will discuss user request modification.

 

Multinational companies inevitably have to solve for language support on their front end. There are many facets to the issue. From translating content to UI/UX work to account for the translated content. It’s a project that requires a lot of time and money. How will the front end know when to serve the appropriate language to the user? It may be an easy question to answer for existing users, but for new visitors, it's a different story.

 

Language Selection by Geographical Location

 

Language selection becomes easy when out-of-the-box CDN functionality is extended by ARC Light. The Limelight CDN provides geographical location information on every request. ARC Light extends the ability of the CDN to modify request headers in real time. A query string or header information can be automatically added to the request so the front end knows which language to display to the user. The CDN maintains the Geo database for actionable data. ARC Light manages the compute layer for modifying the request.

 

Advanced Request Configuration

 

This is a basic example of a request modification using ARC Light. ARC Light has the ability to evaluate any data available within the request header such as URLs, query strings, hostnames, cookies, IP addresses, or custom header data. Complex uses can then be solved within the Advanced Request Configuration to modify any portion of the header using predefined business logic. Simple, Quick, Compute at the edge.

 

More to Come

 

Over the next couple of weeks, several more blogs will be posted highlighting a specific ARC Light use case. Return to this site to read about more ARC Light capabilities.