Disney's Best Practices for CDN Load Balancing and QoS
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Learn more about CDN load balancing and QoS at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.
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Robert Colantuoni: You're not going to escape the costs one way or the other. You're either going to build a team that is going to become experts at gathering the QoS building statistical models of quality service across the CDNs across various regions and ASNs and eyeball networks. And you're going to build your own load balancer, or you're going to go to an MCDN provider that can ingest those, either directly from your own QoS monitoring platform or use their own, like a Conviva. I don't think you implement multi-CDN without engaging or getting those costs layered on top. Regardless, I think that for a video platform that is just starting out, the main goal is to build your platform in a way where you can start out utilizing an MCDN vendor.
But then, when you scale past a certain point and it becomes fiscally tough to scale, you can swap out to your own internal load balancer, and build them in parallel. From the perspective of the way we do it here at Disney Streaming, obviously, we've built our own, we do rely on some of our own metrics-gathering platforms and Conviva to essentially determine where we balance traffic and how we balance traffic between those CDNs. But we can certainly swap any of those components out at any time, because we've built it in a way where we're thinking about not necessarily being tied to a single vendor, not just for the CDN perspective, but also on the measurement platform perspective. You need to build those components to be generic enough and have defined interfaces between them and that you the process of unwinding that platform doesn't become an engineering nightmare.
Tim Siglin: One of the things you mentioned was that certain CDNs play better in certain geographies than others. And I say that on the ground a lot because of what we do with working with engineers and emerging economies, it's one thing to say, "Here's how you encode your content." It's another thing to say, "Here's how you scale out getting that messaging out." You mentioned you had your own internal, and then you have Conviva--or, the decisions that you're making around sort of weighing heavily toward one CDN in a particular geography. Is that based on gut-feel based on previous experience, or based on current KPI?
Robert Colantuoni: That's based on current KPI. We are constantly building. What we built is, essentially, a relative performance. So we gather all of our quality of experience metrics--quality of service metrics in the case of the CDNs--and then we weight them slightly. And then we come up essentially with a ranked stack ordering per CDN, per region, per ASN. And then based on that, we can determine if any particular CDN is out of band, out of range, deviation from the mean type of aspect. If you're scaling out, there's just too many eyeball networks for you to do this manually. You can certainly create a preferred order and do it like that initially. But as you're going to scale out, you need to be able to aggregate that data, and make those decisions essentially on an automatic basis.
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