Content delivery networks, often abbreviated as CDNs, are advanced networking infrastructure that allows timely and efficient delivery of web content across the world. If you’re in the business of producing any form of digital media, whether it’s website content, files—or even live video—then a CDN lets users access your content immediately and without delay. Without a CDN, users who are not geographically situated near your primary server will experience frustrating delays when downloading or accessing your content. In the context of live video, this means excessive buffering and connectivity issues.
Enterprise CDNs (eCDNs) are a subtype of CDN that are designed for efficient video content delivery without the need for an advanced corporate wide area network (WAN). ECDNs also assist with content management and hosting.
Through the use of an eCDN, you can enhance your internal communications by live streaming and recording corporate events, internal meetings, employee training sessions, news announcements, and more. Employees, no matter where they’re situated, are able to access this material without any unnecessary strain on your internal network infrastructure.
How an eCDN works
Deploying an enterprise content delivery network for live video involves several components:
- Video and audio equipment (e.g. video cameras, microphones)
- A professional-quality encoding solution, such as Epiphan’s Pearl-2 or Pearl Mini hardware, to capture and encode your live video content
- An eCDN service provider to deliver your encoded live video content across your corporate network
- A publishing location where viewers will go to watch your live video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Kaltura, BrightCove and many more)
Keep in mind that video solution providers differ – some offer packages containing only the eCDN component while others may offer additional services, such as cloud-based transcoding, video platforms/players, and video analytics.
Viewers of a live stream will connect from many different endpoints. It’s also possible for the source of the content to originate from varied endpoints (e.g. meeting rooms, CEO’s office). Without the use of an eCDN, designing a corporate network which can serve live content to (and from) all these endpoints is difficult and expensive. The number of connected viewers can place tremendous pressure on your internet connection, leading to heavy network strain and a poor-quality viewing experience.
An enterprise CDN deploys ‘edge servers’ throughout the corporate network which help take the pressure off your ISP, router, and firewall. The result is a smooth, buffer-free live video for your company.
Diagram: Live video without an eCDN
Diagram: Live video with an eCDN
In addition to professional-quality live video, eCDNs offer the following benefits:
- Cost savings – Decreased strain on corporate network helps reduce bandwidth consumption and prevent the need for costly network upgrades. Employee training using live video also helps save costs in transporting and lodging employees for traditional in-person training.
- Flexible video formats – eCDNs can work with video solution providers to enable the creation and delivery of both live and on-demand video content. Video content can be transcoded in a variety of formats and viewed with any bandwidth limitation due to adaptive bitrate technology.
- Optimized network delivery – eCDNs enhance your network through dynamic caching to help deliver video content without impacting network bandwidth.
- Easy administration – Many eCDN providers offer web-based administration so technicians can easily monitor deployment and network status
Selecting an eCDN
There are many CDNs on the market capable of delivering high-quality live video to employees within your corporate network. However, there are some factors to consider when making a selection:
- Pricing: ECDNs vary widely in their pricing models. Some offer a pay-per-use approach while others offer a more typical subscription model if you can afford to commit the necessary bandwidth upfront. The frequency of your live streams will also affect price, as will the number of viewers, desired video quality, bitrates, resolution, formats, and more.
- Scalability: Do you need to stream small internal training sessions? Or do you plan to stream large live events to offices across the globe? While all eCDNS are capable of streaming to a relatively small number of viewers, not all are capable of live streaming on a larger scale. It’s important to consider your current and future live video use cases and total viewers when selecting an eCDN.
- Reliability: eCDNs are effective tools for delivering live video reliably across your corporate network. However, there is no eCDN that can guarantee 100% uptime for all employees who connect to your stream. If maximum reliability is is key factor in your purchase decision, then you may want to consider using a multi-CDN approach. eCDNs that use SD-CDN (Software Defined Content Delivery Network) technology let your stream automatically switch between different third-party CDNs based on performance to mitigate outages.
- Geography: The size and location of company offices can have an impact on your choice of eCDN. You’ll need to consider if your chosen eCDN provider offers edge servers that support high-quality and reliable streams from international locations.
- Features & integration: Some eCDNs are offered as part of a package which may include features such as cloud encoding, video players, and analytics. You’ll have to decide which features you need and which solution best integrates with your existing infrastructure.
- Customer support: Having access to professional customer support is essential, especially when live video is concerned. A knowledgeable support team is an excellent safety net in a worst-case scenario to get your stream back on track, or if you have any questions about deployment and maintenance.
Below are just a few popular eCDN vendors to explore if you’re in the market for corporate video delivery solutions.
Live video is transforming the way companies conduct business. Enterprise content delivery networks are an essential piece of the puzzle for companies looking to add live streaming and recording into their corporate communications strategy.