Web video is clearly here to stay. Heck, I currently have 40% of my time dedicated to producing and delivering web video of our weekend worship services. I think this is tremendously cool stuff, and traditional one-way RF-based video delivery (a.k.a. TV) is pretty lame. My kids have no concept of a broadcast schedule. Their content world is one that is immersive, interactive, and on-demand.
We’re now coming up on that season that we network admins have begun to dread over the last few years: March Madness. With networks advertising live web video of every. single. game., those of us charged with the care and feeding of our WAN pipes are blanched in abject terror. We know that 95% of our staff is going to want to watch them while they work. It doesn’t take much math skill to figure out that multiplied by a couple hundred people, even viewing one event means that the remaining 3 people in the organization that don’t really give a hoot about hoops aren’t going to be able to get any work done and pick up the slack the rest of us are leaving.
When you do internet video on the scale of the NCAA tournament, or a news network during a major news event, you’re relying on the performance of your CDN. Naturally, you want to accurately count eyeballs so that the advertisers pay you appropriately. A lot of time and effort goes into engineering thse things, and it’s quite remarkable how well this works.
CNN’s approach using Octoshape is a creative one, that really pushes P2P technology into the mainstream of legitimacy. I was present at the creation nearly ten years ago [+] [++]when Gnutella was leaked to the world, and changed the rules of the multimedia distribution game, and recall thinking how interesting things were going to become. Out of the Gnutella proof-of-concept came LimeWire and others, and then BitTorrent figured out how to dial the concept to a global scale. Now the same idea is being integrated into mainstream CDNs with Octoshape and other “cloud” applications.
It seems to me that the CDN operators should be able to find a way to engineer their networks such that a corporate network admin (such as myself) could download a piece of software onto a spare piece of gear and run a node of the CDN, internal to the corporate network (or, for that matter, run it as a VMWare virtual appliance). This not only softens the blow to my WAN pipes, but also lightens the load on the public parts of the CDN. The only thing then going across the WAN connection is a single instance of each stream being requested by clients internal to the company. Then it simply phones home with the proper client count for advertiser tracking, and bingo, people can get work done, as well as watch their favourite team make a run at the Final Four.
…Or we network admins can simply block the CDN in their content filters and tell their users that we’re mean party poopers, depriving them of their hoops and depriving the webcasters of their revenue.