ECDN, or Enterprise Content Delivery Network, is a service of IBM Cloud Video. It helps you to relieve network bottlenecks associated with delivering video content to locations, such as corporate offices, where you have a high number of concurrent viewers watching the same content, such as a live broadcast.

Content delivery on corporate networks

ECDN, or Enterprise Content Delivery Network, is a service of IBM Cloud Video. It helps you to relieve network bottlenecks associated with delivery security-enhanced video to locations, such as corporate offices, where you have a high number of concurrent viewers watching the same video content, such as a live broadcast.

Traditional content delivery

Without ECDN, each viewer downloads the same stream from external CDN that overloads the ISP links, while corporate network resources are also stressed serving the video traffic (see figure below).

Content delivery challenge

The problems:

  • Increased WAN bandwidth – Every single viewer has a connection to the content origin server from where they download the video content. This dictates how large of an Internet pipe you need to buy from your Internet Service Provider, which is quite expensive.
  • Overloaded firewall – For security reasons, all traffic from the Internet goes through the corporate firewall. While watching a live event, all viewer connections are downloading the same bytes, and each of them is being inspected. This requires you to buy a bigger firewall device increasing costs again.

The ECDN solution

ECDN servers deployed inside your corporate firewalls can help you reduce the amount of network resources needed to serve the same amount of traffic.

Only the adaptive bitrate stream is downloaded through the ISP link. End-users connect to the local ECDN server (see figure below).

Content delivery solution

With ECDN, you only need to download the video content from the origin server once for each ECDN server instance. All viewers get the content from the ECDN edge servers over the LAN. This significantly reduces the required WAN bandwidth.

The load on the firewall is also reduced, as it now has to inspect far less network packets as they come in from the Internet.

Viewers also benefit from the low network latency to the ECDN edges over the LAN.

See benefits of an ECDN solution in details in the following section.

The benefits of ECDN

  • Reduced WAN traffic for corporate locations – ECDN caches the video content and then delivers it to other end-users viewing from the same location, over the local area network. Only a single copy for each transcoded version of the video content is downloaded from upstream remote source servers. This helps you significantly reduce your WAN traffic.
  • Better viewing experience at scale – Viewers from a location where ECDN edge servers are deployed within the corporate network, will benefit from fast access to the local ECDN server instance.
  • Lower costs – With ECDN, you don’t have to pay to have high capacity network connections to the Internet for each location.
  • Increased security – All ECDN servers are deployed behind your corporate firewalls.
    • There are no inbound connections from Internet to the ECDN servers. By design, all network communication to the ECDN backend services originate from the ECDN servers.
    • Most viewers connect to ECDN edge servers on the LAN behind your corporate firewalls. This reduces the number of connections to the Internet.
    • All traffic flows over encrypted HTTPS protocols.
  • Ease of deployment – ECDN servers are virtual appliances that can be installed on shared or dedicated hardware. We provide images for VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V and Oracle VM VirtualBox hypervisors.
  • Enhanced control and simplified operations – You install all ECDN servers and you can reconfigure them at any time. With the web-based ECDN Management Portal, you get an easy to use interface to define your ECDN topology in terms of locations and number of server instances at each location.
  • Performance monitoring – You can see the viewership on each ECDN server instance, and monitor performance across the network.
  • Automated software updates – Updates for all ECDN components (including virtual appliances for servers) are delivered automatically.
  • Customer support – As an IBM Cloud Video ECDN customer, you have access to our phone support.

Basic concepts of ECDN

The ECDN service has three components:

  • ECDN Management Portal
  • ECDN edge server instance(s)
  • ECDN backend services

Another important concept of the ECDN service is that server instances are deployed at your “locations”. Locations represent physical or logical segments of your corporate network.

ECDN Management Portal

The web-based ECDN Management Portal lets you administer your ECDN deployments, and monitor the performance of the ECDN server instances.

When you become an ECDN customer, you will get access to the ECDN Management Portal that runs in IBM Cloud.

ECDN edge server instance

ECDN server is a proxy cache server server running in your corporate network behind your firewall that downloads and caches the video stream contents. It then acts as the content origin for the video player clients in that location. You may have one or more ECDN server instances.

An ECDN server may be also referred to as “ECDN edge” or just “edge” if end-users can connect to the instance.

Each ECDN server is an instance of the ECDN virtual appliance image. An ECDN server belongs to a location, and acts as a local cache for that location. Every ECDN server instance requires only outbound network connectivity to the Internet. There is no inbound connections from the Internet to the ECDN servers.

ECDN backend services

ECDN backend services refers to a collection of web based services running in IBM Cloud, that are used in the delivery of the ECDN service. These services include:

  • Collecting health check updates from ECDN servers
  • Collecting performance metrics
  • Providing configuration updates and release upgrades

Only the ECDN edges interact with ECDN backend services. You as ECDN customers don’t interact with ECDN backend services. For ease of communication, we sometimes refer to these as backend services end-points.

Locations

In the ECDN service, a “location” represents the designated data center name assigned to the physical office or building. ECDN servers are then assigned to this location.

Each location is given a set of external IP address ranges. Any traffic that originates from this location towards the Internet, appears to be coming from one of the external IP addresses assigned to that location.

When a playback request is received from a viewer with a certain external IP address, the ECDN service use the location settings to define to which server the player will connect to download the video stream.

  1. The ECDN backend service sees the playback request as originating from a location that has this external IP address assigned to it.
  2. The backend service sends an unordered list of available ECDN edges back to the player.
  3. The player selects and connects to the server with the fastest response time (at the moment of the measurement) to download the video stream content.
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