Instant start

Video CDN

No one likes to wait. SmartVideo starts playing 12x faster than other players on average.

WordPress video hosting plugin
WordPress video hosting plugin

Instant start

Video CDN

No one likes to wait. SmartVideo starts playing 12x faster than other players on average.

What is a CDN?

Content delivery networks or CDN, is a service created all the way back in the beginning of the Internet to improve the speed and latency of transmitting content from website owners to their users. Even with the rapid increases in speed and capacity of the Internet, there will always be a fundamental limitation that data can never transmit faster than the speed of light. Speed of light limitations are not everyday things we as humans notice as most cases, its so fast that its a non-issue. In fact the most common time we all recognize the limit is when its talked about in the context of space travel as light years. Since most of us are not in the habit of making interstellar journeys, this is still a theoretical limit versus practical.

The Internet which traverses the globe has started to give us some exposure to this light speed limitation. If you need data sent from the exact opposite part of the earth to your location, there will always be a delay of at least 5 microseconds. And that is only one way communication under perfect circumstances given the speed of light limitation. In practice, any request for data requires a series of back and forth that ends up creating substantially larger delays that are noticeable to humans.

CDN’s basically create copies of popular content and keep those copies available on servers distributed throughout the world. So when you surf the web to see your friend from Australia’s latest photos, they load from a server nearby and not half way across the world. This helps overcome this speed of light limitation and ensure a speedier response time for your photo.

How is a Video CDN different?

CDN’s were originally built as a generic solution to delivering all types of files from HTML to images to video. As the Internet has exploded in usage, segmenting out CDN’s to solve for specific file types or uses now makes more sense than ever. Video consumption is already 58% of all Internet usage and rapidly increasing. In addition, the needs of video are different enough from HTML and images, that CDN’s purpose built for video will always outperform and outdeliver those that aren’t.

A simple example of this is if you compare how web files are delivered as you surf the Internet. Typically you are clicking links and loading pages composed of many relatively small images. As you surf around, you want each website to load super quick for you to view, but then as you scroll down the page, your Internet connection is idle as everything you need for the page is already loaded. In comparison, when you are streaming the latest episode of your favorite Netflix show, you are watching a video which is a huge file of data that is transmitted as you are watching. Instead of a lot of small files from many different websites, you are downloading a huge movie file in realtime as you watch. But in both cases, you want your experience of either the website or video to start up as fast as possible.

The choices and optimizations that the CDN uses to deliver the expected experience would vary greatly between these two different uses. And that’s why for video, you need a specialized CDN that is tuned and optimized exactly for the video viewing experience.

Scalability

An additional benefit that video CDN’s and CDN’s in general bring to site owners, is that they assist in scaling up or down as your site’s popularity grows or peaks. Before CDN’s, you would need to ensure you had enough hardware power to handle every client request at your peak usage time. And undershooting this would lead to catastrophic failures as your website crashed from too much traffic. A CDN is able to balance out this need and provide offloading of 90% or more of these peaks so that you don’t have to pay for tons of hardware just in case your site goes viral. Because the CDN’s operate such large networks with built in global redundancy, your viral moment is seamlessly handled and is little more than a blip in the overall usage of the CDN’s massive networks.

Even if you don’t need to have a solution to handle millions of users, CDN’s help you maintain the minimum possible bills for servers and hosting as your server is no longer handling the responsibility for delivering all of the requests to your users. No matter what size, the CDN will help offload much of the traffic from your servers so you can get away smaller monthly bills on hosting.

Reliability is key 🔑 for video performance

One very specific requirement of a video CDN versus those that handle web content is reliability. When you surf to a website or load your favorite app, hundreds of requests are made for images, html content, and data. If a single image fails to load, you may not even notice as you browse the website. And it certainly doesn’t prevent you from seeing the rest of the content. In video, a single failed request leads to buffering or total video playback failure. The requirement for perfect delivery is much higher as all of the data is part of the single video file that you in turn are watching. There are much smaller margins for failure or slow delivery and they have an outsized impact on the users end video watching experience. If you ever see video buffer and wonder why, this is the reason. A video CDN needs to be much closer to perfect in order to deliver even an acceptable video viewing experience.

Attention spans are short,
Instant start is the answer.

Your customers don’t want to wait for your video. Even delays shorter than a second will cause a loss of those users in today’s short attention span world. Don’t make them wait. Instant start makes the video ready for them so they don’t swipe away on your business.