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How CDNs Prepare for Large-Scale Live Events

Learn more about delivering large-scale live event streams at the next Content Delivery Summit.

See complete videos and other highlights from Content Delivery Summit on Streaming Media's YouTube channel.

Read the complete transcript of this video:

Tim Siglin: When we talk about live, large-scale events, how do you prepare for those?

Brenton Ough: Well, that's interesting. We do do quite a few very large-scale events. What we see is that preparation is absolutely paramount. If you're going to be going to a global audience and doing a large-scale sporting event, you've got to be 200% sure everything's going to work. So you need multi-CDN, and you need all the switching to work--don't use simple DNS switching. You've got to have sophisticated tools that actually can do things very quickly, make decisions, and use the data that's available. One of the things that I've seen that's helping these big events be successful is making sure you've got lots of redundancy. So that's why you have multi-CDN.

But it's not just multi-CDN. You've got to have multiple paths. You've got to have multiple encoders, multiple paths through your origin shield all the way through you've got to have redundancy and you've got to monitor all of that. But I think on the biggest events, the two most important things are, first, making sure you've really tested it. So if you're going to do a big Super Bowl or something like that, you really have to test every scenario. You actually have to force everything to fail, to make sure that all of those scenarios we play are actually going to work. And you have to have the runbooks effectively to make serious operational activity.

The other thing that I've noticed more recently--some of the bigger companies are really taking seriously, because there's huge teams working on this and there's lots of vendors associated with it--is having very clearly laid out decision-making pathways. So in Scenario A, who is the person that makes the decision to say, "We're going to cut that CDN out, or we're going to do this, or we're going to change that" or whatever. When you're running a very large sporting event, you don't have time to think about, "What do you think? And what do you think?" Someone has got to be designated as the right person to make that decision.

I've found the ones where those sort of things are all prepared beforehand--that's what makes those events successful.

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