How do you make your streaming viewers happier, so they consume more content and keep their subscription longer? The key is in how you address critical technical challenges like scale, quality, and startup time. In this post, you’ll learn about the Streaming Video Alliance’s Open Caching Network and how you can use this novel and innovative delivery architecture to create better collaboration between different elements in the streaming video value chain.
Growing Streaming Adoption Brings New Challenges
We all know that streaming video consumption is growing. It seems every day there’s a new article about increasing OTT revenues, more people watching from more devices, and how traditional broadcasters are embracing online delivery. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. As more viewers gravitate towards online video instead of traditional broadcast, serious challenges arise such as scaling and quality.
Even though online streaming is vastly different from traditional QAM broadcast, consumers don’t know this. They expect the two services to operate similarly. And for online streaming, that means an HD experience with no buffering and a fast start-up time, regardless of the device. It’s a tall order for online video distribution, especially when forced to backhaul and deliver content over the world’s biggest unmanaged network—the Internet.
To stave off potential service interruptions, many streaming providers and OTT services have turned to complicated, multi-vendor/multi-technology delivery solutions combined with home-grown infrastructure. Through these complex approaches, providers can switch between delivery routes quickly (and bring up new service operators) when issues like congestion and outages impact scaling and stream quality. But, this doesn’t solve the fundamental problem.
To provide a better user experience with online video, popular content must be served as close to the user as possible, which involves placing caches deep in the Operator Network (ISP). More than that, though, the different constituents in the video distribution workflow—Content Providers, CDNs, and ISPs—must coordinate their delivery efforts. In the present environment, there is little sharing between parties, which results in an inefficient delivery chain. Without accomplishing those two things, video delivery will continue to grow in complexity and the scaling and quality issues which are hampering widespread adoption will remain unsolved.
The Open Caching Network
The Streaming Video Alliance Open Caching Working Group has developed a novel and innovative approach to video delivery—the Open Caching Network (OCN). This architecture, defined through a series of specifications and functional requirements, enables all the video distribution constituents to work together in the value chain, sharing information about content, coordinating caching, and even ensuring that popular video is available from within the last mile. When connected to an Open Caching Network, ISPs can even potentially partake in the revenue associated with delivery.
Below are the current documents published by the Streaming Video Alliance regarding building and participating in an Open Caching Network:
- Open Cache System Functional Requirements—A functional outline of the core requirements of the Open Caching Network. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-cache-system-functional-requirements/
- Open Cache Request Routing Technical Specification—A high-level functional specification of the handling of content requests within the Open Caching Network. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-cache-request-routing-technical-specification/
- Open Caching Logging Requirement Specification—A technical specification for logging data to help track content acquisition and delivery to the end user. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-cache-logging-requirements-specification/
- Open Caching Request Routing Service Provisioning Specification—A functional specification detailing how CDNs and operator networks should interact in the delegation of content from a CDN to an operator network for delivery. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-caching-request-routing-service-provisioning-specification/
- Open Caching Content Management Specification—A functional overview of the content management control plane, ensuring that CDNs and operator networks are able to effectively configure content to their customers. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-caching-content-management-operations-specification/
- Open Caching Logging Integration Specification—A detailed look at how to best integrate logs across systems. Download here: https://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/portfolio-archive/open-caching-logging-integration-functional-specification/
Through these specifications, Content Providers, CDNs, and ISPs can truly collaborate on a delivery chain that provides for better scale and improved quality, ultimately leading to an improved viewer experience.
The business value? With a better QoE, viewers may abandon video less often and keep their subscriptions longer. So not only does the Open Caching Network solve fundamental technical challenges associated with delivering streaming video—scale, quality, and start-up time—but it may also have material impact to the bottom line.
What’s Next for the Open Caching Network?
The Streaming Video Alliance has already put the Open Caching Network through its paces with a proof-of-concept involving a number of different member companies, including Charter Communications, Limelight Networks, BAMTECH Media, Qwilt, Verizon, Viacom, Viasat, and Yahoo! (before the merger) based on several of the early specifications.
Another proof-of-concept is planned for later in 2018 and additional specifications are being scoped for publication:
- URI Signing
- Subscriber QoE Metrics Measurement
- Open Caching Security Best Practices
- Home Caching
- LTE-B and Multicast ABR APIs
- CNAME Delegation with HTTPs
The Open Caching working group is also currently drafting a whitepaper to explain how these specifications work together to enable participation in the Open Caching Network.