SVG Europe Sit-Down: Limelight Networks’ Steve Miller-Jones discusses security issues and new format opportunities
It’s been a very eventful few months for Limelight Networks with its introduction of Intelligent Ingest, a unique capability for Limelight Origin Storage that helps customers upload and deliver content better, faster, and more cost-effectively. In addition, the company has launched a permanent no-cost access offering for usage up to 25GB of storage capacity.
That seemed like a very good place to start SVG Europe’s conversation with Steve Miller-Jones, Limelight Networks’ senior director of product management…
Can you tell us a bit more about Intelligent Ingest?
Intelligent Ingest capability simplifies migration of video-on-demand, file distribution, and web, gaming content to Origin Storage, providing fast CDN performance. For sports broadcasters, this means that they can identify what content they wish to automatically move and choose when based on audience demand. This automation minimises the impact on staff time while ensuring cost-effective use of cloud resources. All content can be migrated, or just a select portion, without interrupting workflows. Viewing can therefore resume uninterrupted.
What do you see as your biggest challenges for 2017?
There’s intense and growing calls for on demand and streamed sport content that needs to be responded to. Consumer expectations are extremely high and the challenge for broadcasters and content providers is how do we ensure broadcast quality viewing via online streaming for the many, not the few.
With the speed of consumer broadband and mobile connections increasing, consumers are beginning to enjoy even 4K streaming media at home. However, the core “Internet” doesn’t yet have enough bandwidth to support a major event like the Super Bowl, where you might have more than 100 million Americans simultaneously streaming high-resolution video. That day is still a little way away.
But there’s another challenge. Nothing frustrates a video customer more than rebuffering, and frustrated customers are bad for business.
Through constant innovation and optimisation, Limelight Networks has become the world’s highest performing video CDN, even in emerging markets. In fact, we consistently reduce video rebuffer rates by 10% or more. And we are willing to prove it. If users put our Video Delivery Services to the test for 90 days, we’ll match the price of the current service provider, of course. If we deliver the promised improvements, users can continue to use our service at the same price. If not, we’ll refund your money.
Security of media assets is a top priority. How do you reassure your clients that their content is safe?
Using a cloud-based CDN solution provides sufficient capacity to fight the largest of attacks without having to invest in on-premise hardware, meaning users can keep streaming content even while an attack is underway. As well as high storage capacity, when evaluating CDNs for their DDoS strategy, broadcasters should look for a CDN that offers proactive detection to avoid downtime.
Behaviour-based techniques can trap application attacks that are subtle and can’t be spotted by simply monitoring traffic volumes. With digital broadcasting being global and dynamic by nature, knowing about an attack after its already underway is too late to protect reputation and advertising or subscription revenues; detection is just as critical as mitigation.
Additionally, in the event of an attack, it is imperative to be informed of exactly what kind of attack is underway. Therefore, a CDN’s ability to provide real time notifications of how large the attack is, and how it is being mitigated, should be a high priority for every customer.
Finally, any solution to DDoS detection and resolution must come without a major impact on overall performance. While a DDoS attack can bring a site down for hours, the performance delays caused by always-on scrubbing solutions add up, and slower website performance translates to dissatisfied users. A high-performing CDN should satisfy the always-on requirement without any peacetime performance penalty.
How do you deal with outages?
When companies upload content, Limelight automatically replicates the content to multiple sites. So, for example, if the user wants to download highlights of a missed game, the CDN can automatically pull the content from the nearest site with the data, and deliver it to the viewer. Usually, the closest site wins and delivers the content. But replicating the content guarantees that even if one storage site were to suffer a similar outage, users would never even know that anything was amiss.
Limelight recently said, ‘expect to see other new media formats used to give sports audiences a “just like being there” experience. How do you achieve that?
Sports broadcasting is traditionally at the forefront of media technology advancement, with high profile sports events being the first programming to use new capabilities. Customers increasingly expect an engaging online experience. Video and other rich media make it easier to learn about products and gain additional insight, instilling confidence prior to purchase.
Additionally, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) are starting to become more common. To ensure that the viewer experience is consistent, integrated cloud-based workflows enables you to get your content to online audiences faster and easier at broadcast quality. It helps you to tackle the challenges of delivering broadcast quality sporting events to any device, no matter where your audiences are situated.
Do you have any predictions about how second screen applications will develop in the near future?
On how second screen applications evolve, you must first recognise that you aren’t just delivering content. You’re delivering a content experience and to create an experience, you need something more than just content. You need interactivity, engagement, and immersion. It won’t be long before second screen applications become integral to the sport viewing experience. At Limelight we always put our customers experience first.
Finally, do you have an innovative case study that illustrates what you can do for a sports broadcaster?
We work with Arsenal Football Club, who reported experiencing spikes in traffic during the football transfer window when fans wanted to confirm rumours. At times, up to 250,000 unique visitors were trying to find out what was going on, all within a short period of time. They use a CDN to enhance delivery of the content and improve the overall performance for its fans, no matter whether they are in North London or half-way across the globe.