With the explosion of demand for streaming services that are straining global bandwidth infrastructure at the network edge, Google Cloud made its Media CDN platform available to accommodate the growth. The Media CDN platform also incorporates developer tools that will help deliver next-generation immersive experiences such as augmented and virtual reality.
In a blog post, Shailesh Shukla, vice president and general manager of networking at Google Cloud, cites Sandvine’s ‘The Global Internet Phenomena Report’ that finds streaming video accounted for 53.7 percent of internet bandwidth traffic in the first half of 2021, with video demand continuing to surge. With greater stress placed on infrastructure, Google Cloud made Media CDN generally available to allow Google Cloud customers to leverage the same infrastructure that YouTube is built on for stronger streaming experiences.
Shukla says Media CDN’s “foundational advantage” is the sheer size and scale of the Google network. He says the company’s network reaches over 200 countries and 1,300 cities, which gives an advantage of being closer to more users to minimize fluctuations in bitrates and rebuffers for a smoother streaming experience. It is also packaged with out-of-the-box support for TLS 1.3, BBR, and QUIC (HTTP/3). Shukla says when Chrome added widespread support for QUIC, video rebuffer time decreased by more than 9 percent and mobile throughput increased by over 7 percent. It also increases offload rates with multiple tiers of caching to alleviate performance and capacity stress, he claims.
Media CDN will allow for immersive experiences, the vice president says, with ad insertion, ecosystem integrations and platform extensibility, and the application of AI/ML analytics for interactive experiences. An example Shukla gives is the real-time depiction of stats and analytics when watching sports or the option to purchase items from a virtual billboard.
For developers, Media CDN will have APIs and automation tools like Terraform, along with pre-aggregated metrics and playback tracing to keep track of performance through the Google Cloud operations suite.
“Leveraging the same infrastructure as YouTube, Google Cloud’s Media CDN combines geographic reach, API-first architecture and integration with the Cloud operations suite. This is a transformative move that is aligned with the future of the CDN industry,” comments Ghassan Abdo, research vice president at IDC Research in the blog post.
CDNs are anticipated to continue to show solid revenue growth in the coming years. Forrester Research estimates that CDNs like Cloudflare and Fastly will play a bigger role in the market.
Google’s Media CDN isn’t the company’s first entry into the market — Google already offers “Cloud CDN” and developers can leverage any number of CDN services from Google Cloud via interconnection services. AWS and Microsoft have already long worked to meld cloud and media services together, with AWS having acquired Elemental Technologies’ video encoding technology, for example. That technology has since evolved into a platform for live video delivery. In that regard, having a media-focused edge delivery platform is a must-have for Google, not a game-changer for the cloud market.
What does Google’s move mean for the CDN market? Limelight Networks and Edgecast, two independent CDN companies focused on media delivery services, are already in the process of merging. Akamai has extensive customer relationships in media, as does Lumen. Smaller companies such as Fastly might see some additional challenge in the market, but for the most part, media companies have long been using multiple CDNs for video and application delivery. Google’s newest product is mostly relevant to companies that are already investing in Google Cloud.
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