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4 Posts authored by: mmilligan

 At Limelight, we’re focused on putting experience first.  Last week, we announced significant new performance and functionality advancements to the Limelight Orchestrate Platform that improve online experiences regardless of a user’s connection type or speed or when network conditions are variable or changing.  For video distribution customers, this means significant reductions to the percentage of video streams experiencing rebuffering—without requiring any client side code. 


Production data from Limelight customers shows:


  • 33% reduction in SD (480p) video sessions experiencing rebuffers in the US
  • 25% reduction in HD (1080p) video sessions experiencing rebuffers in the US
  • 41% reduction in video sessions experiencing rebuffers for mobile devices in an emerging market


Why are rebuffer rates so important to online video providers?  Data from Limelight’s latest State of Online Video Market Research shows rebuffering is the primary frustration of online video viewers.  In fact, 46% of viewers will stop watching a video if it rebuffers twice, and 78% will abandon the video if it rebuffers three times. 




Rebuffering has a clear impact on a viewer’s perceived Quality of Experience (QoE) and an online video distributor’s profitability.  That is why the largest and most successful online video providers are fanatical about doing anything they can to reduce rebuffering by even the slightest amount.  The major improvements Limelight has unleashed are a game-changer.



How did Limelight accomplish this?  The short answer is by optimizing the Limelight Orchestrate Platform.  The more detailed answer requires a better understanding of the Limelight Orchestrate Platform.


What is the Orchestrate Platform, and how is it different from a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? 

A CDN delivers content.  There are many CDN providers.  The Orchestrate Platform provides content delivery and much more.




Unlike other CDNs, Limelight’s Global Infrastructure includes the largest global private network dedicated to content delivery.  Our private fiber backbone allows us to bypass the public internet for important tasks, and we only use our network to deliver your content.  Our Advanced Content Delivery Services offer industry-leading cache efficiency and delivery performance for your content.  The Global Infrastructure and Advanced Content Delivery Services form the base of the Orchestrate Platform.


Optional Web Acceleration, Origin Storage, Video Management, and Cloud Security Services are available to help you meet your workflow and business needs.  Control and Enablement tools make it easy to configure the Orchestrate Platform and report on your operations.  All of this is available with access to global support experts who are dedicated to your success.  


Let’s take a more detailed look at the Limelight Orchestrate Platform components.



The Limelight Orchestrate Platform Global Infrastructure spans the globe with a QoS-enabled network of over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and 22+ terabits per-second of egress capacity directly interconnected with major ISPs and last-mile networks.  The Orchestrate Platform Global Infrastructure is densely architected with data centers clustered around major metropolitan locations throughout the world.  Our private fiber backbone enables cache-fill traffic, dynamic content, and integrated service data to bypass the public internet and travel at high speed between Limelight POPs, providing a better QoE for your users.    



At the heart of the Limelight’s Advanced Content Delivery is EdgePrism, the advanced caching software that offers industry-leading cache efficiency.  EdgePrism cache management and operating system technologies deliver optimal performance over any network connection type or speed without requiring any special client-side code.  By continually monitoring a user’s connection and optimizing how content is delivered based upon realtime analysis, Advanced Content Delivery Services provide a superior QoE, even over mobile networks or other changing network conditions.  Unlike traditional CDN vendors who rely on third-party technologies for key components of their content delivery infrastructure, Limelight utilizes in-house development and optimization of its Advanced Content Delivery Services to ensure maximum performance. 



Web Acceleration Services speed up the delivery of static content like images, text and video as well as dynamic content that changes with each user. Techniques such as TCP and connection optimizations, HTTP/2 support, executing application logic at the edge, and device detection help deliver a consistently fast user experience for your websites and applications.



Unlike ordinary cloud storage, Origin Storage Services are distributed throughout the Orchestrate Platform Global Infrastructure, placing content closer to your audiences for the best performance.  Content is automatically replicated and geographically distributed according to your requirements and served to users from the highest performing location.  Limelight Origin Storage offers the fastest delivery performance, built-in redundancy, and an automated and simplified workflow.



Video Management Services make it easy to manage, package, and deliver both live and video on demand content.  The Limelight Video Platform is the fastest and most intuitive way to manage, publish, syndicate, measure, and monetize the distribution of online video. Limelight Multi-Device Media Delivery simplifies the process of ingesting, transmuxing, packaging, and delivering both live and on demand video to virtually any device. 



The Cloud Security Services provide powerful features to protect against attacks on websites and application infrastructure, and control access to content. Content is delivered on our Global Infrastructure which is 100% SSL enabled. Access to websites and content is controlled by features including geo-fencing, URL tokenization, and IP access control.  Web Application Firewall (WAF) capabilities protect web sites against malicious hacking, while Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack detection and mitigation ensures your web sites and applications remain available, even when you are under attack.



Control and Enablement offer both a self-service portal and a new set of API’s to configure and manage your Orchestrate Platform services. For self-service, the Limelight Control portal puts the power of the Orchestrate Platform at your fingertips making it easy to configure services.  Secure APIs are also available if you prefer to incorporate the management and reporting of CDN services into your own tools and workflows.



Whether it’s your initial implementation of the Limelight Orchestrate Platform or you’re responding to changing business requirements, implementing new services, or training and augmenting your staff, Limelight Support Services help you succeed.  Our global Advanced Services Architects have the experience and expertise to help you take on new challenges with confidence.  Limelight’s 24/7/365 Network Operations Center constantly monitors the Limelight Orchestrate Platform Global Infrastructure to ensure maximum uptime and efficient traffic operations.



Limelight’s ongoing investment in the Orchestrate Platform means you can solve your most important content delivery challenges today and in the future.  So, whether you are delivering on-demand or streaming video, software files, games, or an entire website, the Limelight Orchestrate Platform helps you deliver the next great digital experience anywhere. 


Video Takes on Vegas

Posted by mmilligan Apr 24, 2017

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  For those of us immersed in the video industry, April is when we get a preview from broadcast and media equipment vendors of their new wares at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.  For manufacturers, it’s a mad scramble to make sure new products are working (or least make it look like they work so they can be demonstrated).  For attendees, there is a lot of walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center during the day (and pursuing other Vegas offerings at night).  NAB has become the one-stop shop for learning about the latest technologies and trends in the video industry and deciding how to spend your capital budget during the rest of the year.



My first trip to the NAB Show was in 1990 in Atlanta, back before it found its permanent home in Las Vegas.  The industry was on the cusp of moving from pure analog technology to starting to implement digital solutions.  Companies such as AMPEX (remember them?) had huge booths filled with eager buyers.  I worked for a small startup at the time that was pioneering digital video editing.  I was envious of the big companies like AMPEX with their flashy hardware solutions.  That envy didn’t last long.




After that, the first wave of “digital solutions” came along.  Companies like Abekas had huge booths filled with amazing digital solutions that seemed to mimic what the hardware vendors did, but offered greater flexibility and creativity.  In effect, they were doing what had already been done, but with digital technology.  The technology was interesting, but not necessarily compelling.



It wasn’t until vendors started delivering solutions that fundamentally changed the content creation and production process that digital technology finally took hold.  The breakthrough came with the ability to store media in digital form, allowing multiple people in the same facility to easily collaborate during the content creation process.  Multiple editors could seamlessly work together on the same television show or feature film.  Journalists had quick access to any media at the station, making it easier and faster to update news stories as they developed.  Suddenly, everyone in your facility could easily be involved in the content creation process.  This changed how people worked.



The next wave extended those siloed workflows to include people in remote locations.  Fortunately, networking technology and the internet were getting faster.  Users were able to transfer or FTP media to someone in a remote location.   A collaborator in a remote location could access proxies and low-resolution versions of media stored in a different location.  Journalists in the field were able to view media at the station.  It was finally realistic to purchase enough bandwidth for media to be shared across long-distances.  The geographic barriers that hampered collaboration fell.



The next big disruption is underway.  “The Cloud” is fundamentally changing how and where content is created.  We have the ability for people to access media from anywhere, so why do we still need to build big centralized production centers?  Why can’t the media and the media production services be virtualized or live in the cloud?  The technology to fully virtualize the content creation process is here, although it may not all fit together as easily as we would have hoped (as the rollout of SMPTE 2022 and SMPTE 2110 have shown).  However, it’s easy to see the demise of large centralized content production facilities is not that far away.



So, what’s next?  Just as the content creation process has moved to a virtualized IP infrastructure, the content distribution process is also moving “over the top”.  It is easier than ever for viewers to find content that appeals to them and stream it on demand.  No longer do you need to wait for something to be “broadcast” to enjoy it.  It is always available 24/7.  Even live events are increasingly streamed online.  Most major sporting events are now available anywhere on the device of your choice. 


The final barrier to full adoption of online streaming is available bandwidth to ensure a “broadcast-quality” viewing experience.  With the speed of consumer broadband and mobile connections increasing, consumers are beginning to enjoy even 4K streaming media at home.  However, the core “Internet” doesn’t yet have enough bandwidth to support a major event like the Super Bowl where you might have more than 100 million Americans simultaneously streaming high-resolution video.  That day is still a little way away.  However, there are solutions available today to guarantee a great online viewing experience. 




Limelight Networks helps content distributors deliver the best online viewing experiences.  The Limelight Orchestrate Platform includes a natively integrated online video platform, storage and security.  With a QoS-enabled network of over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and 21+ terabits per-second of egress capacity directly interconnected with major ISPs and last-mile networks, the Limelight Orchestrate Platform has the speed, capacity, and availability to support the largest global events, wherever your viewers are located.  Limelight delivers the world’s largest events.


At NAB 2017, Limelight has been meeting with companies to talk about how to best deliver the next great video experience.  If you are at the show, please stop by booth SU10714 to talk to our video technology experts.  Because at Limelight, we are dedicated to enabling you to create the world’s best content experiences anywhere.

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.



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.



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.



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.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the data analysis for Limelight’s December 2016 "State of Online Video" market research.  The trends are undeniable.  Watching video online is no longer the future – it’s here today.  Why stay home to watch your favorite TV show when some broadcaster decided you should be watching it, when you can watch what you want, whenever you want, wherever you happen to be?  Consumers have taken control, and that has the traditional broadcasters and content distributors scared. 


How did this all happen?


I have been involved in the world of broadcast television for quite a while.  I began my professional career 30 years ago as a television Broadcast Engineering Operations Technician for a local television station in the US.  My job was to help get programs on the air so people at home could watch them.  Sometimes it was live programming, but most of the time it was pre-recorded shows.  When news broke, people tuned in at 6pm to learn more about the day’s big story.  Occasionally, we would even interrupt regularly scheduled programming for a Special Report.  However, the station controlled what you could watch and when you could watch it.  Viewers understood that was the way the world worked.


In the early 1990’s, computers and digital technology came along and changed the way video content was created.  It soon became feasible to convert analog video into digital files that could be stored on a computer disk for non-linear editing.  I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and joined a company that helped lead the digital video production revolution.  Over the next 20 years, I worked to bring about the demise of film and video tape in the video production process as everything became digital.  However, the distribution of this digitally produced content was fundamentally the same.  There were more cable TV channels broadcasting content, but the stations controlled what you could watch and when you could watch it.  Viewers understood that was the way the world worked.


Then, things started to change.  It started slowly and almost imperceptibly.  Broadband speeds to homes increased.  People started recording their cats doing funny things and posting them online for other people to view.  Viewers wanted updated information about breaking news events and didn’t want to wait until the evening newscast.  The Internet became a legitimate place viewers could go to watch video, even if the experience was often frustrating and the content was limited.


At first, the traditional Broadcasters and content distributors were concerned.  Would they lose viewers as people spent time watching user generated content on YouTube?  They soon convinced themselves that Internet video was not a threat to their traditional business model.  People would continue to turn to them because they had the best content.  They were half right.


As more diverse content became available online, younger viewers began to search out videos aligned with their interests, even if the production quality was poor and the video would stutter and re-buffer several times each minute.  Millennials controlled what they would watch and when they would watch it.  That was the way their world worked.


The Internet quickly became a viable way for content distributors to make videos available to viewers.  At first, the content was limited.  NetFlix took the pay TV movie channel business model and moved it to the Web.  Viewers could watch movies according to their schedule online.  Other companies followed.  Soon, compelling original content also became available online.  Now, everyone realized the benefits of watching what they want, when they want, on any device they want, at home or on the go.  It was a brave new world.

I spent the last decade working with the world’s largest broadcasters and content distributors on ways to streamline their content production and distribution processes.  Some foresaw this fundamental shift in viewing several years ago.  Others were in denial until very recently.  However, they all now realize consumers have taken control of the viewing experience, and audiences are more fragmented.  Their old business model of forcing you to watch what they broadcast when they broadcast it has completely imploded.




The results of Limelight’s December 2016 “State of Online Video” market research report confirms online video viewing has gone mainstream.  More than three-quarters of the people surveyed watch video online each week.  More than half of those people are watching more than two hours each week.  Among Millennials, the numbers are significantly higher.


People are going online to watch many different types of content.  While the majority reported watching TV-shows, those over 60 reported primarily watching original content from sources such as YouTube as well as news.  Millennials primarily watch TV-shows and movies.  More than 68 percent of respondents subscribe to a video on demand service.  We’ve come a long way from cat videos. 


While the majority of people use their computer to watch online videos, smartphones are increasingly being used as people want the flexibility to watch content on the go.  For Millennials, the smartphone is already the preferred device for online viewing.  Streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV are also gaining in popularity as people want a high-quality in-home online video viewing experience on a large monitor, similar to what they get when watching traditional broadcast TV. 


What I found most interesting from the survey results is how expectations of the quality of the online viewing experience has grown to a point nearly matching expectations from broadcast television.  In the early days of online viewing, consumers learned to accept the fact that picture quality wouldn’t be as good as traditional broadcast television and the video would often stutter or re-buffer.  The new survey results show that 48 percent of people will stop watching a video if it re-buffers twice, and 78 percent will stop watching if it re-buffers three times.  Viewer expectations have certainly increased!


Half of online video viewers reported also subscribing to traditional cable or satellite TV.  Cost is the primary reason people are considering cutting the cord, although 24 percent said they are waiting for the ability to subscribe to just the channels they want online.  This may be a good sign for companies such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now that are offering “skinny bundles” that allow viewers more flexibility in choosing the channels they want at a lower cost.  However, content is still king, with 20 percent of Millennial males saying they won’t cut the cord until more live sports become available online.


What does this all mean?  Consumers have clearly taken control of the video viewing experience.  They want to choose what to watch and when to watch it.  They will pay to access the content they want online, but they expect it to be delivered flawlessly on any device.  Content distributors need to ensure the quality of the viewing experience in order to satisfy consumer demand and maximize revenue.  The good news is the technology needed to ensure such a high-quality online viewing experience is readily available from Limelight.


The content distribution process has undergone fundamental changes over the last few years as consumers have taken control.  The traditional broadcast television business model is imploding.  I’m excited to be part of the Limelight team that is helping content distributors thrive in this brave new world.