VDMS Continues Its Progress In Expanding the Network and Feature Set

VDMS (Verizon Digital Media Services) made two major announcements this week: another addition to its growing feature set with Real-Time Log Delivery (RTLD), and the news that Argentina’s largest media conglomerate, Grupo Clarín, is now using its CDN services, expanding its footprint in LatAm.

New Feature: Industry Leading Real-Time Log Delivery 

VDMS launched its latest new feature on Tuesday with the introduction of RTLD. Real-Time Log Delivery is a log streaming service, which delivers edge request data to the user’s selected endpoint in under 60 seconds. According to VDMS, this makes it “the fastest log delivery in the industry” at 500% faster than any competitor.

RTLD parses logs by any 4xx or 5xx error. Alerts are delivered in real-time offering users real-time awareness to address configuration issues as they occur.

The Edgecast CDN logs include metadata about the request, including who requested it, their geographic location, what the content was, and the performance quality of Edgecast’s response. Over 20 data fields can be populated, and customers can customize the type of information they want to receive or opt to receive pre-built reports and dashboards. The data is compressed before delivery in order to minimize the amount of storage client-side.

RTLD integrates with Amazon S3, any web server via HTTP POST/PUT, Splunk, Sumo Logic and others. Data is sent in JSON and transported over HTTPS/TLS for security purposes.

Data gathered using RTLD can be utilized by Machine Learning and AI for further processing.

The billing for the new feature is usage-based i.e. you pay for the amount of data you transmit through the service. There is not a setup cost or minimum fee.

Argentina’s Largest Media Conglomerate Utilizes VDMS’ CDN

Also on Tuesday, VDMS announced that Grupo Clarín, Argentina’s largest media conglomerate, is now using the Edgecast CDN. As part of the deal, VDMS is providing tech support to manage on-demand video traffic for Grupo Clarín’s main websites, including Radio Mitre, CIMECO, Artear and Clarín. VDMS delivered a live stream of the World Cup across June and July for TyC Sports.

Digital properties belonging to the Argentine media group include TV channels, radio stations, newspaper portals and sports services, available via the web, iOS, Android and Smart TV systems, all of which will now be distributed through the Verizon Digital Media Services content delivery network.

“Verizon Digital Media Services’ content delivery network performance, rich feature set, flexibility and quality have exceeded our goals,” said Damián Molinari, responsible for the implementation of the new video on-demand platform from Artear, Grupo Clarín’s audiovisual division. “With consistent traffic growth, we now have the ability to scale with ease, which has never been more critical for the recent FIFA World Cup stream — one of the most watched sporting events in the world.”

Verizon Digital Media Services now has 15 PoP in 11 cities, including two in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

VDMS Expansion to Meet Global Demand

VDMS has been working on expanding its network architecture and feature set over the last few years in response to the huge international upswing in demand. The company, since last year, one of the digital brands under Oath, has been especially focused on  honing its video streaming services and serving the “mobile-first” developing nations.

High-definition video has become a major growth area. Cisco predicts that 82% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021. Much of that growth internationally has come from developing nations in which mobile broadband subscriptions are growing by over 30% year-on-year compared to 10% in developed nations (source: United Nations ITU).

Edgecast CDN

When Edgecast was built back in 2007, it was one of the leading CDNs in terms of video optimization. From its inception, the CDN’s software focused on caching large objects, such as video, for long durations. This allowed the network to deliver a viral video repeatedly from a given PoP without needing to re-request it from the origin server. Edgecast’s early strengths in video served the CDN well for well into the next decade; however, in 2016, the company decided it “needed to retool to meet rapidly rising demand” (Kyle Okamoto, chief network officer for Verizon Digital Media Services).

The company began to build what it calls its “next-generation CDN” and upgrade its entire network “from the ground up”. Part of this involved making its PoP more resilient by adding redundancy in the network layer.

NB – A Note about its Name Verizon Digital Media Services was originally known as Edgecast Networks. It was founded in 2006 and funded by the venture arm of Steamboat Ventures, a Walt Disney company. In 2013, Verizon acquired Edgecast. The name Edgecast CDN continues to be used for VDMS’ CDN.

Adding Redundancy

The Edgecast CDN already had redundancy in its software stack and at the application layer since the company used multiple storage vendors, data centers and redundant power supplies. Even inside individual servers, there were multiple drives and other critical components able to provide redundancy and thus stop service degradation and/or prevent outages.

Initially, however, its servers were tied to a single router, which led to problems; if the router failed or needed maintenance as it could also take down the servers. Edgecast solved this by introducing redundancy at the network layer meaning that maintenance work on an individual router or set of servers would no longer trigger potential service issues.

As they redesigned at the network layer, the engineering team also focused on performance increases. The goal was to ensure that the CDN would never act as “a performance bottleneck”. They were able to increase throughput by removing some hardware elements and introducing other higher-performing components; this also served to streamline the network structure, leading to improved reliability as there were now fewer single points of failure in the system. These improvements especially prepared Edgecast CDN for increased load from a video-heavy user base at scale: a necessity in today’s international market.

Network Expansion into Emerging Markets

“The rise in streaming video demand worldwide means that CDNs must take a global perspective on international growth. Users now expect to watch high-quality online video regardless of where they are physically located. That’s why it has been a priority for us in recent years to build out our capacity in emerging markets like Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia”, Okamoto.

As we reported earlier this year, VDMS has recently expanded its international footprint into Africa, Europe and Mexico. It opened new PoPs in all three continents in Q1 2018.

The PoP in Johannesburg, South Africa, was the company’s first network presence in Africa; meanwhile its new PoP in Marseille, Southern France was partly chosen as a location to connect VDMS to Africa from its Northern end. Marseille is France’s second largest city and has become a critical Internet hub due to its location within Europe yet proximity to North Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile over in Mexico, the company opened its first PoP in the country’s capital, Mexico City – building on its existing infrastructure within the country (it already had PoPs in Santiago de Querétaro and Puebla).

“In a world that’s more plugged into mobile devices than ever before, there is a critical need for digital media delivery to be secure, fast and of the highest quality – especially in fast-growing, mobile-centric markets,” said Okamoto.

In markets with last-mile infrastructure still under development, power outages and fiber cuts are relatively common. The build-outs to the network and the overall reduction of redundancy has allowed Verizon “to absorb the hits from these outages more smoothly than we would have been able to otherwise”, according to Okamoto.

The recent expansion in VDMS’s network brings the CDN up to 125 PoP across 56 countries over 6 continents.

VDMS’ Super PoP Architecture

Another recent focus of time and resources at VDMS has been on refining its Super PoP architecture to further optimize performance at the granular level. Since Google’s recent Speed Update, mobile websites must now load under 200 milliseconds to meet Google’s standards for search. VDMS has been focused on expansive server caching and edge computing in order to help shave off its customers’ milliseconds in unexpected ways.

The reasons VDMS calls its PoP Super PoP are various:

  • Its PoP are located close to primary Internet exchange points with strong transit and peering providers
  • Caching power in each PoP is extensive – storage reaches up to multiple petabytes compared to one-tenth in an average PoP
  • Each of its Super PoP is Layer 7 aware, meaning it can terminate a TLS connection, inspect the assets being requested and deliver them from any PoP within its architecture and refine the caching footprint to match
  • This leads to a 95% cache hit ratio across the Edgecast CDN PoP architecture, reducing round trip times
  • Each PoP can scale horizontally with workload because of the overall strength of the computing power within the Super PoP network.

VDMS’ eyes are fixed firmly on the future. Its Super PoP architecture is conducive to edge computing and those next-gen services that will demand even lower latency such as VR, AR and the IoT.  

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