Over-the-top (OTT) streaming allows content to be delivered to viewers over the internet so that it can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Traditionally, OTT would make use of a content delivery network (CDN) designed to provide on-demand video, but as live streaming increases in popularity, we are seeing the scales begin to shift in favor of cloud-based video streaming services. In fact, the cloud computing industry is expected to see an increase from USD 371.4 billion in 2020 to USD 832.1 billion by 2025. So what’s the appeal? Why choose a cloud-based video streaming service for live content, rather than using a traditional CDN?
1. Better Suited to Live Streaming
A traditional CDN may be able to support on-demand viewing, but these days live streaming and interactive video are taking over the market.
CDNs were not built for this type of work. Many traditional CDNs use peer-to-peer mesh networks that can be effective for VOD delivery and one-way streaming, but not for live streaming. Issues like latency were simply not taken into account when designing these platforms, because they were designed for VOD, not for real-time video and interactive multi-way streams.
In today’s virtual world, there’s nothing more important than ultra-low latency in interactive live video experiences. Streaming impacts almost every aspect of our lives: the workplace, education, sports, gaming, shopping, and even health resources such as telehealth visits. Ultra-low latency in a cloud-based video streaming service is essential in order to maximize opportunities to deliver latency-sensitive applications to the market.
Cloud-based video streaming services allow for lower latency than a traditional CDN. This is because CDNs were created to work with HTTP-based protocols, which have high latency when used for live video streaming. Cloud-based video streaming services, on the other hand, make use of protocols like WebRTC, which is optimized for low latency live video streaming. Providers like Red5 Pro have built WebRTC-based products that act as a replacement for the traditional CDN and allow for real-time live streaming with latencies lower than 500ms.
2. Transcoding and ABR Compatible
The latency issue of traditional CDNs also affects the ability to use transcoding.
Transcoding allows a user to publish multiple variants of a single video stream and deliver to the subscribers the best variant given their available bandwidth. This means viewers can subscribe to a stream via adaptive bitrate (ABR), which will allow dynamic upgrading and downgrading of the stream quality based on network conditions.
Cloud servers can host transcoded variants, or generate them in real time, and easily make them accessible as needed. Many CDNs rely heavily on HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), which is largely unable to maintain the desired low latency while using ABR to upgrade or downgrade stream quality. Because of the focus on real-time stream delivery, more modern cloud-based solutions to OTT are better equipped to work with ABR.
Cloud-based video streaming services offer security options that go beyond those of traditional CDNs. CDNs typically include several security features to protect a platform from cyber attacks. They usually incorporate features like malware protection, request limiting, and bot detection. A cloud-based video streaming service, which can be customized as desired, allows for all of this and more. Implementing features like round-trip authentication to validate users adds extra layers of data protection and keeps interactive video streams safe. Plus, choosing a solution like WebRTC provides a base layer of security through built-in encryption, to ensure that all information is protected.
Cloud-based options are both approachable and affordable. They leverage geographically-located infrastructure, allowing the user to choose a nearby data center without the heavy cost or stress of managing physical servers and their maintenance. Additionally, when scaling, cloud services can be increased easily and at a low cost, and services can be added or removed as necessary. As a result, constant maintenance is avoided and users only pay for the services they need. With cloud-based options, organizations can rest assured that they have the ability to scale processes as needed, without breaking the bank.
Cloud-based options allow for the addition of cloud resources as needed with no extra hardware required. Compared to a traditional CDN, cloud-based options create opportunities for low latency live video streaming at a lower cost. This creates room for customizations and features like transcoding and ABR.
Cloud-based video streaming services also allow for portability. Unlike CDNs, a cloud-based solution won’t lock organizations into using a single vendor. By using tools like Terraform, infrastructure can be deployed on multiple cloud platforms. This allows users to switch platforms as needed based on region, cost, and any other factors that affect the product. Overall, the capacity to modify and move platforms as needed makes a cloud-based solution the most flexible approach to live video streaming.
As the possibilities for interactivity in live video streaming continue to grow, it is essential to choose platforms that serve the imagination. This is why the portability of cloud-based solutions is so important; it leaves space for the product to develop over time as new ideas come to light. The upcoming Experience Delivery Network (XDN) infrastructure from Red5 Pro is one solution for those looking to innovate. XDN allows organizations to easily integrate real-time live video streaming into all of their products. Where a traditional CDN lacks, XDN shines: it provides several deployment options and allows for customization to employ features like ABR, transcoding, and authentication all while maintaining a low latency stream.