CDN technology is gaining worldwide popularity, contributing to safer and quicker data transfer. If a couple of years ago this service was quite expensive and affordable for Western and European users only, today its prices have decreased, and demand for it grows considerably on emerging markets. Let’s find out the recent trends and areas of CDN developments, and how to select a network providing global connectivity.
CDN on emerging markets
What is an emerging market? This is a country with some features of a developed market but not meeting standards to be called a developed market. These are countries that have potential to develop in the future: China, India, Iran, Russia, and Brazil.
Which developing markets are the most attractive for online business?
Online retailing in India has grown to $300 million in 2009 with more than 250 million Internet users in 2014. The number of mobile transactions has grown considerably, and has reached 40-50% recently, and it expected to increase.
Another evolving market is Brazil. It is estimated that content delivery network market there will be worth $192.4 million by 2019. The main factor defining the popularity of online trading in Brazil is quick growth of Internet-powered devices (smartphones and tablets). Brazilian users are becoming more tech-savvy, and require a better level of connectivity. This market is in dire need of more effective CDN solutions.
Since China has the world’s largest population, there are more than 550 million online users. Just thinks: 1 out of every 5 users is a Chinese. About 44% of Chinese population is online, and this number will only increase. Content delivery in China poses some sorts of challenge: a unique infrastructure is required, and the mobile user database is very large. Using a CDN in China helps to accelerate web-sites and improve business application responsiveness. This technology is a great alternative to development of expensive local infrastructure. There are several factors that make Chinese market develop rapidly:
- 1. The number of million users in China is growing quickly.
- 2. Online retail in China will soon make for 16% of overall online consumption.
- 3. More than 60% of Chinese consumers search for products online via smartphones.
- 4. Mobile commerce in China will soon make about 8% of e-commerce sales worldwide.
Besides, CDN market is being successfully implemented in Russia, and is becoming more demanded in The Middle East and Africa. Adoption of CDN will improve the quality of Internet connection there and contribute to faster e-commerce development.
CDN market is inevitably growing, and the above-mentioned information proves that it has great potential on emerging markets. Content delivery networks help accessing various servers with content and data, simplifying delivery in countries with poorly developed IT infrastructure. That improves user experience in a reliable way.
Content delivery networks for streaming
One of the most demanded types of content is video. Streaming has become a mega trend today: this is an advanced way of content consumption, but it requires specific technologies and creates a lot of challenges.
There are many multipurpose CDN that have services for on-demand video content. Generally, a video file is considered to be just a large file, and developers suggest it should be delivered the same way as any other content. Today, you may broadcast live streams via CDNs of different providers. Special encoding software encodes camera signals and sends it via secure connection to the CDN. With the help of players, you can broadcast the video on your web-site. Broadcasting settings may be specified. CDN guarantees great end-users’ experience worldwide.
Although ABR and HTTP streaming are well-developed today, some additional options for live video delivery are required, because video files can’t be cached like pre-recorded files. Progressive download is another reasonable option: a user doesn’t have to wait until the entire file is downloaded on the computer before watching it. While this is acceptable for downloading a game or an application, users don’t like waiting for such content as a movie.
One of the first web-sites that rely on progressive download was YouTube. CDN starts delivering the content quickly, and a user may start watching a video within 3-5 seconds while it is being downloaded on the background. Of course, it requires fast Internet connection so that download was on a quicker pace than playing. This way, most viewers will have the whole clip downloaded even before they are halfway through watching the content.
HTTP is still considered to be the best solution for streaming, and it is connected closely with adaptive bitrate (ABR) encoding and delivery. This technology uses generic HTTP servers to delivery on-demand video files as the rest of HTTP content. When it works together with adaptive bitrate and CDN, video stream is divided into chunks 2-10 seconds each. ABR generates.
The best solution so far is called HTTP streaming, and it is coupled very tightly with adaptive bitrate (ABR) encoding and delivery. HTTP streaming uses generic HTTP servers (often based on Apache or Windows Server) to deliver on-demand video files the same way that other HTTP website content—such as images and text files—is delivered. Adaptive bitrate is added to a CDN, which converts a video stream into fragments or chunks, often 2-10 seconds in length. ABR creates discrete streams of different bitrates and receives feedback from the user’s video player to figure out the optimal network speed for the transfer.
Streaming servers are created to deliver data at the time of a request, but they only transfer the demanded bits instead of the whole video clip. This is beneficial for content owners who pay for CDN transfer per bit, because a user does not have to download the entire clip, if he wants to see a part of it.
Another latest trend is 4K Ultra HD video. The format is slowly starting changing the perception of what video media industry will be like in the upcoming years. Users need exceptional quality and high resolution, and broadcasters need HD recordings and their live casts accessible everywhere. Since 2015, mobile phones supporting resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels have appeared, so mobile users want to have access to this technology, too.
4K streaming is quite difficult, and requires a lot of resources. Broadcasters are aware of it, and search for advanced methods of making connectivity faster. With a quicker expansion of 4K and streaming of high resolutions, CDN using is expected to grow more and more. If your web-site is accessed by people from different countries and continents, CDN implementation is a good idea. Be sure: this technology will quickly pay off.
How to choose a CDN solution for global connectivity?
CDN market has developed considerably, and is only expected to reach its peak. There are many CDN providers nowadays, and it is becoming more and more difficult to find the right partner – there are so many options and needs for business. How to make a decision? Everything depends on the demands of your company, and it’s only you who may clearly define what your organization needs. Choice of CDN solution is especially hard for small companies who don’t have an IT department, and have no idea about the cost of services, their configurations and where to start from. Before trying services of any web provider you should outline what you are searching for.
There are 4 crucial aspects to be considered when looking for a CDN:
When estimating functionality, ask two questions. What should your CDN do? Such things as original pull and gzip compression are basic functions, while others (custom CNAME for secure web pages) are not always included. What are your abilities as a user of CDN? You should make some sort of list with your requirements, for instance: watching real-time statistics, uploading files via FTP, performing Purge-All via an API, etc. Define the requirements and needs of your company, and it will be much easier for you to decide on a CDN provider.
Speed is the most important aspect for users .You should know exactly how fast your servers will deliver the files to visitors. Look at the following features: latency (in ms) and throughput (in kbit/s). You should know the highest, the lowest and medium value for every aspect. The power of server is also important. If your servers are located close to users, but still work slow, it may be conditioned by:
- 1. Servers cannot deal with the number of connections to visitors’ browsers.
- 2. Hard drives are out-of-date.
- 3. Servers have a small pipe to the Net.
You may tune CDN servers for better performance (for instance, using SSD hard drives) to work quickly. How to do it? Perform trials with one or severs CDNs in key geographical regions. You should have strong monitoring tools during testing to receive real and actual data about CDN performance. Check the data and compare results with different CDNs.
The cost of service matters to all businesses. Prices between CDN providers may differ considerably, and you should get full information about pricing policy of each provider before starting working with it. Ask support team to make a custom price plan for you basing on your budget and needs. This way, you will get the idea how much will the service cost.
A lot of CDN providers promise 24/7/365 support. Check the quality of client support: contact them and ask any questions you have. Consider the following things:
- 1. Are agents user-friendly?
- 2. Do they give ample and clear answers to your questions?
- 3. How quickly are problems solved?
- 4. Is there any hint of personal approach, or you are treated just like another customer?
Discover as many details as you can to check which providers are worth working with. Note that the last point is as important as the first one。