Academy blog

You’ve implemented a multi-CDN strategy, now what?

If you’re running a media services company (or even a high-traffic website) you’re going to know exactly how Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) work and what they do to help put your content in front of viewers. 10 years ago a single-CDN strategy was sufficient in delivering your content. Yes, sometimes it buffered for too long, maybe it would even crash during big spikes in web traffic, but it would bring content to viewers – job done. But modern viewers expect more than this.


What is a multi-CDN strategy?

The times have changed and it’s now common practice to employ multiple CDNs to make sure your content takes the fastest path to your customer. In the current competitive climate of VOD companies, running a global high-quality web service has never been so challenging. To keep up with the unpredictable crowds who can spike web traffic without any warning, it’s in a media companies best interest to prepare for every situation that can be thrown at you. This is where a multi-CDN strategy comes into help.

What is a multi-CDN strategy?

Put simply, your content is kept on your servers. When a visitor clicks on a video, it is pulled from the server through a CDN which will then translate it into a file that the website can read and throw the content in front of the viewer. This all happens in a matter of seconds and the key to keeping your viewers entertained is to make this time as low as possible. SmartSwitch, which is an automatic CDN scoring tool, will take care of this and decide which CDN is the best match for your service.

For example…

How a Multi-CDN strategy works

Just how trucks get caught in traffic, video gets caught in certain routes which bottleneck and delay video delivery to the user. This lag can result in buffering events, delayed join times, and other undesirable disturbances which can take from the all-important user experience. Yet SmartSwitch can prevent moments like this, acting like the GPS of a truck to avoid traffic through the suggestion of alternate routes. SmartSwitch goes beyond this, automatically alternating between CDN to get the video to the user on time.


Why should you care?

Content is king but quality is queen”, people starting shouting in 2013 as the world of media flocked online and methods of distribution became as crucial a factor as the content you’re publishing. If anything, this sentiment has gained traction over the years. There are now an estimated 3 and a half billion internet users in the world and web traffic is growing along with it. It’s an exciting time to be online, but with a saturated market comes an extremely competitive landscape.

Reports state that a 1 second delay in page loading means a 7% reduction in conversions. If you’re a company that talks in terms of millions of dollars, we’re talking about a huge amount of lost revenue. A multi-CDN strategy, sometimes referred to as a Hybrid CDN, backed up by an automated multi-CDN management tool like SmartSwitch has proven to greatly reduce user churn. The truth is, with the speed at which we surf the web, patience is wearing thin and people can easily be put off by even a slight delay in loading time.

The same way a photographer will have access to a number of great lenses, they will all perform better in different situations. Having the ability to switch when appropriate gives you a versatility and consistency with your media services that viewers can depend on. Now imagine someone knows which is the best lens for every situation and fitting it without you having to do anything – this is what decision-making software is doing.


I Need a Dollar – What about smaller businesses?

Coming up with a CDN strategy can be taxing on both your schedule and your budget. Some CDNs won’t want to share customers and those that do will sometimes make the process complicated in order to apply their terms. Luckily, there are companies that will take care of this for you so they will definitely be worth your time.

Here are a few tips for deciding your CDNs:

  • Opt for a cloud-based storage system and have your origin attached outside of one specific CDN.
  • Use best practices for caching
  • Understand your traffic before deciding your strategy. Deftly define your KPIs and make sure they’re prioritized

Your decisions should all come down to QoE and, most importantly, ROI. for smaller businesses, implementing a multi-CDN strategy is definitely possible, you just need to be willing to take the risks, spend the money and make sure you programme your decision-making software with your KPIs in mind.

NPAWs team of video data engineers have developed SmartSwitch, the decision-making tool which can help you capitalize on your investment in multiple CDNs to maximize ROI and keep on top of QoE here.

Max Gayler on May 14th 2018

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