Azure CDN is a “CDN Specialist” in the Media Delivery Services segment, along with Level 3, capable of hosting the largest streaming events such as the Olympics. Azure and Level 3 have the scale and infrastructure to stream hundreds of thousands of concurrent streams. Microsoft Azure has one slight advantage over other CDNs; they have intricate experience working with the media tool sets used by many CDNs, since Microsoft is the one that developed the tools, including some of the players, encoders, WMS protocol, IIS, and so on. Azure Media Delivery Services has an extensive feature set, including encoding, DRM, dynamic packaging, content protection, content management, and so on. Level 3 has the identical feature set, but they partner with best-of-breed technology vendors. If I had to select which of the two CDNs is better equipped for Media Delivery Services, I would side with Level 3.
Owning the Network Has Advantages
Whereas Azure has the advantage of deep experience in the media tool set, Level 3 has the experience in delivering linear broadcast and non-linear content. Level 3 has been doing media services longer than all other CDNs, with Vyvx playing a big part of that. In addition, Level 3 has the advantage of owning its own global fiber network. Not only can Level 3 provision fiber capacity for itself faster than provisioning fiber for 3rd party’s such as Azure, capacity is never going to be an issue for Level 3, since they can just blow new glass into the conduit, and light it up as needed.
Another advantage Level 3 brings to the table is years of experience working with VIP linear broadcast shows, such as The Emmys, Oscars, Super Bowl, and so on. In the world of linear broadcast, there is zero tolerance for any kind of disruption or latency. Networks pay big bucks for zero disruption, and Level 3 has that experience going for them. This zero disruption mindset they have developed over the last decade in linear broadcast delivery, is the same mindset they bring over to the CDN world. Azure CDN vs Level 3 CDN