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Choosing a CDN

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One way to tell what type of delivery your prospective CDN offers is to ask to see a sample clip of something live. If the stream you are watching is live, then you know it’s coming off of a media server that has been set up to stream. Also, make sure to ask about the protocol that is being used to stream. I hear a lot of service providers say they offer "Flash streaming" when it is really Flash video via download. If they are streaming from a Flash Media server, it has to be delivered via the RTMP protocol. If it isn’t, then it’s not streaming.

Other Questions to Ask
In addition to the above points, there are many other questions to ask depending on the type of content you are delivering, who your end user is, how your business model is defined, and any specific and custom requirements you need to be successful. "What does it cost?" is, of course, always a question you need to ask. (For more information on pricing, see the sidebar, "CDN Pricing Data," p. 88) The previously mentioned questions were selected because they are relevant to all customers, no matter their business and technology needs. The answers to these questions are the fundamental building blocks of video delivery services.

Online video hosting and delivery is not rocket science, and it is not as complex or as difficult as some want to make it. Video hosting as a service will be celebrating its 14th anniversary in 2008. Today there are plenty of choices for delivery, no matter what your budget, company size, or industry vertical.

Many times, with choice comes confusion, but that does not need to be the case when you’re choosing the right provider for your needs. If you have a clear idea of what you need, have enough details to create an outline, and know what questions to ask any provider, the process is really quite simple. If you have any questions about the process, need help, or want to compare data, contact me at any time for free assistance.

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