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Google, Amazon & the Video CDN Revolution

Mari Silbey
4/5/2017
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With the launch of its peering edge architecture Espresso, Google has committed to extending software-defined networking into the content delivery market. That's big news. It means Google has refined a technology approach for getting content to consumers faster, and after two years of testing it out internally, the cloud provider is ready to take its solution to the masses. (See Google Caffeinates Cloud With Espresso.)

In a seemingly unrelated announcement, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) yesterday reportedly inked an agreement with the National Football League to stream NFL Thursday night games live and for free to Amazon Prime subscribers. That's not a technology milestone; it's a business deal. However, the addition of live television to the Amazon Prime portfolio means the company is confident in its ability to push out a high-quality video experience over the Internet, even when the content is a potentially high-demand sporting event.

Amazon is not a top player in the content delivery network (CDN) market, but it has delivered video CDN services with its CloudFront product since 2009, and it bought up the transcoding company Elemental Technologies for video delivery optimization in 2015. (See Amazon Acquires Elemental for AWS.)

Amazon also hired away one of Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW)'s top CDN engineers, Joe DePalo, just nine months ago, suggesting that the company is marshalling new resources behind its content delivery efforts.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Amazon aren't operating in a vacuum. The entire CDN market is figuring out how to adjust to greater volumes of streaming video, while content providers are also attempting to adapt their operations to make content delivery more cost effective. The CDN business has arguably been in a state of upheaval for years, but now it seems that every day there's new evidence that both the technology and players in the market are shifting.


Want to know more about video and TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.


In yet another sign of the CDN revolution, the Streaming Video Alliance , which includes big-name operators and vendors like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Charter Communications Inc. and Limelight in its membership ranks, announced the start of an open caching trial in January. The goal is to help companies test out the practice of placing content caches within a service provider's last-mile network for improved video delivery. (See Open Caching Trials Begin With Major ISPs.)

As Jason Thibeault, executive director of the SVA expounded recently at the Cable Next-Gen Technology and Strategies conference, "What we're trying to do is create a system, an open architecture called open caching, where the caches are now in the operator network." With this approach, Thibeault explains, there are now opportunities for the operator to engage with this content delivery infrastructure." (See also SVA: Pay-TV & OTT Must Come Together.)

Qwilt Inc. , which is a founding member of the SVA, also announced in February a new Open Edge Cloud platform. The Open Edge Cloud offers an open API to CDN companies and content publishers that want to connect Qwilt edge caches with their own networks to drive global scale for content delivery. (See Qwilt Opens Up at the Edge.)

Neither Google, nor Amazon is officially part of the Streaming Video Alliance. At least not yet. But they're both circling around the same content delivery issues as the SVA's 48 existing members. There's a worldwide puzzle in how to connect consumers efficiently and effectively to the content they want to view.

And virtually no one in the video business -- including Google and Amazon -- can afford to sit on the sidelines.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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