Robert Mayer, CEO of US firm PeerApp (a provider of transparent caching solutions), on the changing nature of the Internet, and the implications for the future of content delivery.
What impact is transparent caching having on content owners, operators and subscribers around the world?
Transparent caching is playing a huge role in delivering over-the-top content, which is growing dramatically.
Just look at the recent London Olympics. One clip of the opening ceremonies had over 1.6 million YouTube views in just three days.
The only way to satisfy this high-volume, bursty and unpredictable demand is to transparently cache popular content close to the subscriber.
For content owners and subscribers this means more reliable delivery and consumption of OTT content. For network operators, it means their networks are more resilient to content-induced spikes in traffic.
How can high capacity and scalability be achieved when deploying transparent caching for a large operator?
Our tier 1 operator customers are taking a distributed approach, caching content at multiple network edge locations. This not only achieves scalability, but it maximises the benefits of caching first by extending the network savings across the operator’s backbone networks, and second by delivering content close to the subscriber for the highest possible quality.
Also, large operators tend to take a multi-year solution view, so it’s important that systems be non-disruptively expandable in the field as the traffic grows year over year.
We designed our UltraBand product with an elastic clustered architecture to scale to different size sites, to allow for incremental expansion, and to self-adapt to changes in traffic mix, so that it can be deployed anywhere in the network and adapt to network and traffic growth. We continue to invest in things like management and analytics for large-scale, distributed deployments.
How do you believe the Internet is changing, and what implications does this have for the future of content delivery?
For the subscriber base of any single operator, the Internet is driving an increased diversity of content sources, including long-form video, social media, cloud-based sharing services, application downloads and so on.
Subscribers expect to consume these diverse content services across multiple devices. Content producers like the BBC and Virgin Media are creating apps for connected TVs and set-top devices. New content services like Spotify are tapping peer-to-peer content delivery economics to sustain a “freemium” business model.
While I would not place a bet on any specific service or business model, it’s safe to assume that we’ll see more OTT traffic from a wider variety of sources.
We also see an increasing appetite for collaboration between OTT content service providers and CDNs on one side, and operators on the other, where in the past there was very little. We have seen examples of Facebook and Netflix entering into arrangements with network operators to provide premium or reduced-cost access to their services.
We have seen MSOs in North America offering access to premium OTT services to their subscribers, as part of TV Everywhere service umbrella. The future will bring more blending between operators and OTT content services.
Content delivery and network optimisation strategies will need to adapt to these new realities. Multi-service transparent caching has a critical role to play because it covers the full spectrum of content traffic, and because it requires no pre-arrangement with or even knowledge of the traffic source.
What work do you believe needs to be done to standardise transparent caching and CDN infrastructures?
At PeerApp, we are great believers in a “best of breed” strategy, when it comes to both transparent caching and CDN solutions. Open integration between the two will allow operators to choose the best solution that matches their needs, rather than settling for less-than-ideal offering from a single vendor or solution provider.
We see exciting opportunities for operator-based transparent caching being tapped as a strategic network resource by operator CDNs as well as by over-the-top ecosystem participants.
To that end, we are working with leading CDN providers and network infrastructure technology vendors to create the open interfaces that will facilitate such integration.