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7 Benefits of a Multi CDN setup for your streaming businesses

Benefits Multi CDN to Streaming

To cater to an increasing demand of high quality video content, streaming businesses are on a continuous mission to improve the viewer experience. Hence, many video content providers and streaming platforms are looking into ways to optimize their video delivery. One way companies are doing this is by leveraging Multi CDN technology.

In this article we’ll lay out the key benefits of a Multi CDN setup for your streaming business.

What is a CDN?

Before we begin to look at Multi CDN, let’s take a step back and examine Content Delivery Networks—or CDNs. Over the past decades, CDNs have become a staple for video streaming: streaming content providers rely on the increased loading speed and added security brought by the CDN’s geographically distributed group of servers. Also, CDN’s enhance streaming capabilities and help high-profile sites manage enormous amounts of daily traffic.

CDNs are not entirely without limitations though. Granted, typically loading times are accelerated when viewers access content served from a nearby CDN, but those benefits do not extend to content loaded from edge servers located farther away. In an increasingly globally-connected world, a single CDN setup could limit an organizations’ reach, and therefore its success, depending on the business goals and target audience you wish to target.

A Multi CDN setup could prove helpful in mitigating the possible downsides inherent to single CDN solutions.

What is Multi CDN?

A Multi CDN is a solution which combines two or more CDNs from different vendors into a single network to broaden coverage and help achieve better video performance compared to a single CDN setup.

Different CDN providers allow users access to different networks of Points of Presence (PoPs), different underlying network infrastructures, and different sets of highly-specialized features and functions. Hence, different CDN vendors are likely to deliver different performance, security, and cost benefits too depending on workload, traffic and location. A Multi CDN setup allows organizations to leverage “the best CDN for the job” by routing specific traffic and workload to specific CDNs.

While a Multi CDN strategy isn’t a new concept, there have been some misconceptions about deploying a Multi CDN solution, leaving some with a bit of doubt. We demystified some of the misconceptions in this article.

Benefits of a Multi CDN setup for your streaming businesses

Streaming businesses regardless of scope, industry or size can benefit from several key points from investing in a Multi CDN strategy: 

  1. Global performance enhancement – A Single CDN setup’s performance is likely to vary by region, whereas multiple CDNs, spread across various regions, improve overall latency. Additionally, regions like China and Russia, areas with specific rules and regulations, present challenges to website content and video delivery. A Multi CDN setup can help streaming businesses work around issues related to local regulations and controls. Multi CDN allows companies to gain granular control of their content delivery, sometimes all the way down to the city level.
  2. Continuous video uptime – Whenever one CDN provider experiences downtime, Multi CDN automatically directs traffic through another provider. Video content delivered by multiple CDNs is not affected by traffic spikes or fluctuations. Over the course of 2021, a number of outages took place, among others 2 large-scale events happened with Cloudflare, Fastly and Akamai.
  3. Enhanced viewing experience – Nowadays video streaming providers must be able to not only deliver engaging content, but viewers expect that video content to be of high quality and delivered almost instantly. This can be challenging if only relying on a single CDN setup. Multi CDNs can help ensure that streaming content providers can keep up with users’ demands, especially with video content consumption on the rise.
  4. Decreased buffering time – Deploying a Multi CDN setup can improve load times, and decrease buffering times by distributing content through nearby CDN servers. Faster load times can reduce bounce rates and increase the amount of time visitors spend on a website.
  5. Cutting costs – Streaming businesses can save on bandwidth costs and overage fees by leveraging a Multi CDN setup.
  6. Enhanced security – By providing features like DDoS mitigation and authentication enhancements a Multi CDN setup can enhance security significantly.

Flexibility and resilience – This is a very important factor to reduce risks for both financial and technical reasons. Instead of being locked into a single CDN provider, businesses often have more flexibility when using Multi CDN to spread risks across the board.

3 ways to implement a Multi CDN solution for your streaming business

1. DNS load balancing

There are quite a few DNS providers on the market who allow users to customize their traffic routing rules. After they subscribed to all the required CDNs, they can copy the CNAMEs of all CDNs and paste them in the DNS record so the DNS server can determine which CNAME (CDN) is used for the request based on the traffic routing rules. Some of the most common traffic routing rules include:

  • Round robin – Different CDNs take turns serving content to spread the load across activated CDNs. This method doesn’t take any factors into account, it’s just distributing traffic to all CDNs equally.
  • Weighted round-robin – Also known as ratio load balancing, instead of equally distributing traffic across all CDNs, this method sets traffic ratio to weight traffic accordingly and assign priorities to specific CDNs.
  • Geolocation – This method determines a user’s location and finds the closest PoP/CDN to distribute their requests (traffic).

How it works

  • When a user visits www.abc.com, this triggers a DNS lookup.
  • The DNS provider determines which CNAME to use based on the traffic routing rules.
  • The request is then being directed to the designated CDN based on the CNAME.
  • The user is now accessing www.abc.com via the assigned CDN.

Pros

  • The most easy way to implement for most streaming businesses.

Cons

  • You are required to subscribe to every CDN individually through different platforms (more platforms and contracts to manage).
  • Most DNS do not perform load balancing intelligently.

2. RUM/Synthetic monitoring-driven load balancing

Some solution providers offer this service as a package to push Multi CDN to the next level. The idea is to leverage RUM and synthetic monitoring data as the foundation to steer load balancing decisions.

DNS providers who offer this service usually process this on the DNS level, meaning it’s similar to the ‘DNS load balancing’ method, but now it’s making decisions intelligently based on actual performance data. Other providers including Mlytics process this on the system level taking in requests, measuring, and returning the best CNAME or IP (of a CDN) back to the DNS.

How it works

  • When a user visits www.abc.com, this triggers a DNS lookup.
  • The system will measure user geolocation, network latency, and CDN performance.
  • The system finds out the best CDN for the user, and directs the request to the designated CDN.
  • The user is now accessing www.abc.com via the assigned CDN.

Pros

  • Ensures the best experience for users.
  • Zero programming required, everything’s off-the-shelf.

Cons

  • You are required to subscribe to CDNs individually via different platforms (more platform and contract to manage)

3. Centralized Multi CDN platform

Almost identical to method 2 (RUM/synthetic monitoring-driven load balancing) but without the lengthy CDN subscription process. There are several players in this field, but only Mlytics provides a Multi CDN Marketplace-like platform. The main perk of this type of solution is that it gives businesses the power to subscribe to any CDNs on demand instead of asking the providers to do so on behalf.

How it works

  • When a user visits www.abc.com, this triggers a DNS lookup.
  • The request is redirected to the Mlytics system via the CNAME assigned by Mlytics if it is properly pasted in the DNS record.
  • The system will measure user geolocation, network latency, and CDN performance.
  • The system finds out the best CDN for the user, and routes the request to the designated CDN.
  • The user is now accessing www.test.com via the assigned CDN.

Pros

  • One platform to manage everything: subscribe to and manage multiple CDNs via one single platform.
  • Unified configuration and analytics for various CDNs.

Cons

  • Some lesser-known CDNs might not be immediately available

Takeaways

When looking for ways to enhance your video delivery performance, CDN solutions go a long way. Strategically located edge servers bring content faster to the viewer and filter out unwanted traffic. However, in an era where you need to minimize buffering time, or let alone downtime, you probably want to consider a more resilient solution to mitigate the possible risks of buffering and downtime.

A workable solution is Multi CDN. Mlytics Multi CDN marketplace simplified the implementation process significantly by offering a centralized platform where you can subscribe to any CDN listed as you see fit. We have a system in place that can intelligently route traffic across all the CDNs activated via the platform which takes the end-user’s location and CDN performance status into consideration when making routing decisions. Thanks to our smart load balancing technology you no longer need to worry about increased buffering times.