The content swarm: power to transform global content delivery networks
Video content delivery networks (CDNs) serve content to end-users through proxy servers in their data centres around the world.
CDNs push multiple copies of images, websites and videos closer to end-users, allowing quicker consumption.
Should a CDN see its future focusing more heavily on storage, or on providing ‘smart pipes’ to deliver data to its customers?
Smart pipes could lead to a new horizon of innovation in digital video – the kind that’s currently impossible with rendered content.
Today there is a never-ending appetite for internet video content. This is true for both its production and consumption.
Consumers want the ability to access any video content at any time, and producers know they could reach a global audience at the push of a button.
Gone are the barriers of the past where complicated arrangements needed to be made for a piece of content to reach an audience.
Innovation has driven this revolution and is fuelling nearly every part of the content production and consumption environment.
Innovation in mobile phone technology means today’s devices record more video than ever before.
Growth of the internet means platforms like YouTube and Vine are distributing more content now than has ever been distributed before.
The problem with all of this innovation is that the content itself has not been innovated.
Today’s connected devices use content formats unchanged since 1994.
Facebook and YouTube were launched in 2005. Since then the world has changed but content has not changed with it.
Because of this, digital content blocks the arteries of the information superhighway.
This happens because every digital video file is a rendered block of content that ends up being edited, transcoded, re-rendered and stored into other blocks of content – all to meet the demands of an audience, or the specifics a device requires to play this block of content back.
It’s not unusual for one block of content to be broken down into thousands of blocks of new content just to meet this demand.
1 petabyte (1 million GB) uploaded to YouTube every day (February 2016)
For YouTube alone, users upload over 400 hours of video every minute. At one gigabyte per hour, this requires more than one petabyte (1 million GB) of new storage every day. That’s about 100 times the content stored in the US Library of Congress.
The graph below shows that this upload rate continues to grow exponentially, with a 10x increase every five years.
Enter Swarm Content
Swarm content is that which is assembled with building blocks from different network nodes or devices.
Swarm gets its name from a swarm of bees – the hive is the network, and the swarm is comprised of individual components located disparately.
Depending on the job at hand, a swarm of content components are assembled and travel to a destination in a structured order – one that is individually recorded and not replicable.
The methodology is not too dissimilar to what drives a peer-to-peer network. A swarm network approach to video content management provides a variety of added benefits:
Transforming the CDN
Swarm networks transform a CDN’s local POP or edge servers into localised indexing stations for video content.
These local indexing points have a Dropbox-style interface for customers, who could pay for a private virtual video cloud service.
Such a service would be a new product that a CDN could offer to provide a content owner with the benefits mentioned above – enabled by Linius.
A private cloud via virtual video is a zone where client’s files are dropped, indexed, then the index is peered around the entire CDN infrastructure network.
Much like a blockchain methodology, this ability to peer and index requires no real storage and can identify the remaining file structure’s location.
The ability to break down a video file into an index in one location outside the private cloud and deliver the building blocks of the audio and video samples from a privately controlled cloud location allows for smart algorithms, Big Data or business rules engines to drive the production of content without rendering.
A private cloud can be expanded across the network using existing CDN technologies. It could transform rendered video content into an assembly floor of building blocks to produce personalised content. It would simplify all of the processes and workflows required to deliver content that is not personalisable.
Virtual content provides a workflow that allows for methods of content and service monetisation that, until now, have been impossible.
The name ‘Linius’ comes from Carl Linnaeus – the father of modern taxonomy, and in today’s terms, the godfather of metadata. The Swedish scientist established a system for classifying plants, animals and trees.
He named the honey bee Apis Linnaeus, and the Linius technology works like a honey bee.
The bee leaves the hive, flies around in numbers, pulls pollen from a plant, comes back to the hive and the hive produces honey.
Linius goes and indexes content, pulls metadata, and brings it back to the assembly engine (hive) which transforms the content into a different product.
Linius enables a global CDN to become a hive
With Linius, the swarm content gets assembled just in time to deliver customised content indexed throughout the CDN’s points of presence.
The intelligence of the CDN enabled by Linius allows for this dynamic new assembly of content which spawns a multitude of new products and services the CDN can offer:
Linius is enabling new horizons of innovation in transforming content workflow for today’s devices, processes and consumer demands.