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How CDNs Can Leverage CMAF

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Learn more about CMAF at Streaming Media East.

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Read the complete transcript of this video:

Peter Chave: My job at Akamai is to look at new standards and technologies and then see how that's going to impact our customers and see how that will impact what products we need to bring to market or products we have, and how we'll need to adapt them to help support new technology and new standards. CMAF falls right into the middle of that. CMAF, as you know, has been around since 2016. It's basically an evolution of something we already supported: fragmented MPEG-4 with an ISO BMF wrapper. We can get into all of these details in a bit and a lot more detail later.

Essentially from a CDN perspective, it's just another file to deliver. Why it's so important to Akamai and to other CDNs is it offers this convergence where we'll have only one file we have to serve to everyone. If we look back even five, seven years, we were maybe serving five different versions of exactly the same object at the same resolution, with the same audio and same everything that CMAF gives us a path to, which we are realizing in real time. While we didn't need to do anything particular to serve another file, the way it's addressed through different manifests, both the Apple spec HLS and through MPEG DASH, we had to change some of our processes to make sure that we were correctly parsing and syntax-checking manifests in our addressing CMAF to make sure that they are going to be valid and compliant for delivery.

So the more checking we can do on the front end, the better the experience be on the back end. If we can get to this goal of one file that covers all end devices, it means that we will have a much better origin offload. If we're having to pull different two different versions, we have to keep both of those in our caches all the way through our network. If there's only one version, it's more likely to be in an edge cache, which means you'll get a better performance.

From a CDN perspective, CMAF offers us this potential to improve not only the core pipeline, but to improve performance overall. And then we can focus on trying to solve other problems, like how can we get better experiences to other devices? This is kind of a low-level thing, but a lot of times in the industry we've run into these forced bifurcations of workflow, just because one device picks one path and another universe picks another path. This may be the point where we at least mentioned not one of those convergences; we'll break it again with something else. And that will keep us all gainfully employed for a few more years. But this is that moment we're at, and that's why I'm excited.

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