What Technology Will Win In The Battle To Deliver Broadband Video To Customer Devices? (2008)

By Dave Lively, Cisco Systems and Marty Roberts, thePlatform

Today, with consumers increasing their consumption of broadband video and with cable operators and programmers continuing their entry into the online video space, the need to understand content delivery options is paramount. Cable operators already have the network capacity for delivering the content. The question is one of where to store the content and stream it from. The first issue is whether to build an infrastructure using generic web streaming and download servers, or to build a content delivery network (CDN) to handle the job. Cable programmers often have relationships with commercial CDNs but they may not be efficiently leveraging their internal digital storage and streaming servers. Peer-to-peer (P2P) also presents another option. Cable operators can build their own application that leverages P2P protocols. P2P eliminates the cost of storage and Gigabit Ethernet ports required when building a CDN by pushing that cost to the individual users (the service provider is essentially co-opting their users’ PCs for the storage and streaming). But, this method incurs additional costs for more upstream bandwidth, and potentially dealing with network congestion. Plus, what's the incentive for users to "donate" a portion of their bandwidth and computing and storage resources on their PC? Hybrid models also exist, allowing operators to potentially leverage the best aspects of all technologies. A media management and publishing system can give the cable operator or programmer more control over their delivery options. Traffic can by dynamically directed to files on different CDNs without consumers experiencing any quality impacts. Policies may be applied to media to automate the management and storage of old or unpopular media files. As decisions to switch to a new content delivery option arise, a media management solution can ensure the transition is easy for production staff and seamless for viewers. This paper will look at the impacts on the network for both downloading content and streaming content, as well as using CDN technology versus P2P technology to actually deliver the content (whether it’s being streamed “live,” or downloaded for future viewing). Media management systems may be applied to provide additional control over delivery policies. Virtualization of content, storage, and applications can also be leveraged by cable operators and programmers for delivery of content and even web-based applications in the future

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