Swarmcast Strives to Amplify Content Delivery
While other peer-to-peer content delivery technologies have grabbed more media attention, Swarmcast has been working behind the scenes to help major content providers like MLB.tv deliver their video using their grid-based content delivery solution. Today they are announcing the release of a new product called CDN Amplifier in their efforts to expand the use of their "swarming" technology as a key enabler of "HD streaming" using existing relationships with CDNs.
The demand for a product like CDN Amplifier, which has been in beta for several months, comes from a fundamental issue of delivering video online versus over a closed network, says Swarmcast CEO and founder Justin Chapweske. In the traditional broadcast or cable environment, there’s a fixed allocation of spectrum available over each channel; over the internet, the amount of available bandwidth for an individual consumer will vary greatly, making it very difficult to guarantee any sort of quality of service. "That’s why today you see these small, lower-quality videos, which are great for quickly consuming small amounts of content, but definitely don’t provide a TV user experience," Chapweske says.
And despite the oft-heard lamentations of the last-mile bottleneck, lack of sufficient reliable connectivity over the access network is not the sole or even primary influencer of an end user’s online video viewing experience, Chapweske says. "Typically, from our experience, the bottleneck is on the server side. In any existing streaming or web-based environment, even if you’re using a CDN, you’re ultimately getting connected to a single server. And if there’s any overload on that server or any packets that are lost between the server and any of the hops to that user, you’re going to have degraded performance," says Chapweske. "With the traditional kind of single-source model of content delivery, there’s no way to guarantee HD or even broadcast quality."
The role of CDN Amplifier, Chapweske says, is to enhance the ability of content owners to circumvent these issues and deliver the best quality video possible given their end users’ connectivity. "CDN Amplifier injects additional data to augment the quality of video that can be delivered," says Chapweske. "Essentially data’s coming from multiple sources rather than a single CDN node, which ensures that you’re always utilizing the full downstream connection."
As a result, content owners that use CDN Amplifier—which is a free plug-in with a pay-as-you-go service model—should only be restricted by the absolute end user bandwidth, and not the limitations of the hops content travels through or servers it originates from. "A consumer may have a 6Mbps cable connection, but they usually only see 1-2Mbps. Using CDN Amplifier, they will get close to the limit of that connection," says Chapweske.