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Video: The Future of CDN: An End-to-End Ecosystem

Where is the CDN industry headed? Not too long ago, CDNs were primarily focused on delivery bits, but delivering better quality video is not as hard (or as exclusive to CDNs) used to be. If the recent spate of acquisitions by major CDN players is any indication, increasingly, the emphasis is on building an end-to-end ecosystem that encompasses not just delivery but ingest, transcoding, storage, management, analytics, and more.

Read the complete transcript of this clip from Dan Rayburn's CDN pricing presentation at Content Delivery Summit 2016:

Dan Rayburn: For years, you had CDNs saying, "We can help you deliver bits. We can help you deliver better quality video." Well, delivery is not the hard part anymore. Over the next two days at Streaming Media East, content owners on stage won't be talking about delivery. They're talking about, "How do I ingest, transcode, store, manage, montage, protect, business rules, track, analyze, business analytics?" All that stuff in the middle of the ecosystem, that's the complex stuff. Well, the CDNs have realized that, so they've gone out in the market and made acquisitions to try and make an end-to-end ecosystem.

Let's see if I can remember all of these. Amazon acquired Elemental in November for $296 million. Level 3 acquired Servecast a long, long time ago. Comcast acquired thePlatform. Verizon acquired Edgecast, Uplink, and Volicon. Limelight acquired Delve. IBM acquired Ustream and ClearLeap. That gives you an idea. Almost all the all the major CDNs in the market are acquiring companies to get that broadcast ecosystem, and a lot of them are doing it for live linear--so services like a Sling TV that are broadcasting live linear, that's a platform, as well.

This is the future of CDN. It's an ecosystem. You're always going to have some CDN customers who say, "Look, I don't care about your ecosystem. I do it myself. I [transcode 00:02:21] my own videos. All I want you to do is deliver content with great quality at a great price."
We're always going to have that in the market, but most of the major mid-tier, tier two broadcasters, Fox, Disney, Viacom, all these guys, delivery is not the hard part for them. They don't have that much traffic either. You'd be surprised. It's not as big as you think. The hard part is take one video, [transcode 00:02:21] it 20 different ways for every device you have to deliver it to, multiply that times 50,000 videos. Just management of that alone is insane. Then if you're talking about HEVC coming down the line, depends on whose stuff you look at in the market. In coding from H dot 264 to H dot 265 today takes about, on average, seven times longer, and again, multiply that times 50,000 clips. The problem is not pushing the bits out. It's all the stuff you have to do just to get the bits ready for delivery, so that's where CDN is headed.

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