Why should you put a virtualized content delivery network (CDN) in the cloud?

This is not just a theoretical question. It has come from our customers. At our recent Cisco Live event in Milan, we demonstrated how our continued CDN technical leadership can answer this question.

First, some history, as you can’t just begin with the cloud.

At Cisco, we’ve been working hard over the years to evolve our Videoscape Distribution Suite (VDS) platform. From its roots in hardware-based appliances, to software applications powered by our data center hardware, and more recently to virtual machine implementations which can be powered by our own or third party hardware. Each technological advance to our VDS platform has netted gains for our customers in their CDN deployments; whether through more flexible deployment from greater hardware independence, faster time-to-market implementing VDS software applications, or reduced total cost of ownership thanks to server-based virtualization that optimizes footprint and power/cooling requirements.

Nonetheless, requirements continue to evolve.

Consumers expect to access any content on any device and at any time. And this naturally leads to incredible spikes in demand that are both predictable – say a major sporting event like the Olympics – and unpredictable – such as live flash crowds or viral video clips on YouTube. Server-based virtualization is no longer sufficient. Our customers understandably are asking for more than just deployment flexibility, faster time-to-market, and cost reductions. They also seek the ability to dynamically adjust to changing requirements.

In other words, they want to become more agile.

A cloud-based CDN architecture can provide the agility they need. So what are the characteristics of a cloud CDN?

First, it is an elastic platform that allows you to easily scale capacity up or down by provisioning virtualized CDN software applications such as content streamers.

Second, it hides infrastructure complexity from virtualized CDN applications. Leveraging Openstack, for instance, you can orchestrate resources to automatically provision virtual CDN applications.

Third, it enables you to dynamically adjust to changing requirements with flexible policy management. For instance you can configure thresholds for load, latency and QoS to trigger adjustments to your cloud CDN platform that optimize content flows.

Fourth, it provides an open standards-based approach for tapping into the capabilities of public clouds to scale for peak demands. At the same time, it can still be managed as a single extended cloud environment.

At Cisco Live we demonstrated how a cloud-based CDN architecture for our VDS platform provides the agility our customers seek to help them respond to dynamic requirements. By taking advantage of Network Function Virtualization (NfV) and using cloud-based orchestration, we showed how you can elastically provision virtualized VDS functions and adjust to dynamic load requirements. The demonstration highlighted how an agile cloud CDN lets you instantly increase delivery capacity in order to support more spontaneous content consumption behaviors. It also showed how with simpler capacity management, you can optimize operating expenses.

Our march towards a Videoscape platform in the cloud is accelerating.

At CES, we announced how we are Virtualizing Videoscape and expanding it to the cloud. And now at Cisco Live, we demonstrated the future path our VDS customers can take. By evolving their server-based virtualization implementations of VDS with our Cloud VDS architecture, they will gain the agility to more rapidly and dynamically scale their CDNs.

Stay tuned as the year unfolds. We’ll continue to share with you our progress expanding Videoscape into the cloud.


Kip Compton

No longer with Cisco