Written by: Roshan Dwivedi
Most organizations that stream a lot of video know the value of a content delivery network (CDN). But what is the most important feature for the most critical video content? It is the ability to stream to multiple screens and multiple devices was the number one feature they needed from a CDN. If you look at the make-up of the devices today’s video consumers use, it isn’t hard to see why companies are looking for ways to ensure their content works on all devices and screen sizes.
CDN for Business
The CDN market keeps changing constantly, multiple distribution protocols become available, and online video formats and platforms keep on evolving, ensuring that it all looks more complex than it actually is.
But even with the confusion in the market, simply knowing what questions to ask a CDN and knowing what your specific needs are can make the process much easier. Before you talk to any service provider, you need to have a very clear outline of what it is you are looking for.
Asking The Right Questions
Keeping all this in mind, there are a lot of questions to ask providers, including what formats they support, where they are located, what type of reporting they have, etc. The number of questions you need to ask depends on exactly what service you would need and how familiar you already are with shopping for a similar delivery provider. Here’s our ‘to-ask’ list for you to get started :
- What is the network performance measuring model you offer? : Just about every vendor you talk to will tell you its network is global, scalable, high-quality, and has great performance. But what exactly does “performance” mean and how is it measured? The answer depends on whom you ask. Customers measure it based on things like customer service terms. Others base their assessments on the physical speed of the network and delivery service.
- Do you charge ‘overages’? : Every large-scale CDN charges for delivery of video, via streaming or download, based on two metrics. One is the total number of megabits per second (Mbps) sustained at any given time. The other is the total number of gigabytes (GB) delivered over the network in any given month. These are two very different metrics with very different overage charges. For example, if you committed to push 100GB a month at $1 per GB, but you end up pushing 150GB, typically your pricing drops to a lower rate, say 95 cents per GB. Rarely do CDNs charge overages on a per-GB-delivered model, and in many cases, some of them charge one flat fee per GB no matter how much you push. The other way CDNs charge for video delivery is on a per-Mbps-sustained model. This means that you pay for the volume of traffic you push at any one given time, not the total bits pushed. If you are paying on a per-GB-delivered model, don’t ever agree to overages. Ask to be given a lower price based on growing your business.
- What Exactly Does the Service Provider Support in the Way of Delivery? : Do not assume a vendor supports streaming just because their sales guy or the flyer said it. The word “streaming” is used in very generic contexts these days. Some service providers use the word streaming to sell and promote their services when in fact they don’t offer delivery from a media server, but rather they deliver everything via progressive download from a web server.
Website owners can speed up delivery times of videos, improve their search rankings and increase customer loyalty by contracting CDN services. The service costs more than single-server hosting, but the advantages outnumber the drawbacks. Hence, it’s crucial that they make the right choice when it comes to CDNs.
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