Content delivery provider Velocix today announced a hybrid streaming service combining traditional caching with peer-to-peer (P2P) delivery for live events. The hybrid-P2P offering is part of a family of new Live Video Streaming solutions from Velocix (previously known as CacheLogic).
Velocix, which is based in Cambridge, England, specializes in delivering large digital media files such as video, software and games. The company says the hybrid-P2P approach offers better scalability than traditional CDNs, as well as "compelling delivery costs and economics."
Live events such as sporting events and music concerts present significant online delivery challenges. Unlike on-demand services, where requests for pre-recorded materials are spread over time, live services feature concentrated demand from a potentially huge audience for the duration of the event.
As a result, broadcasters of live events are often forced to compromise quality or limit audience sizes, according to Velocix CEO Phill Robinson, who said his company's hybrid-P2P "fundamentally disrupts the performance and economics of live streaming on the Internet."
"What we see is that when you get a very large audience, you need P2P assistance," Robinson said. "The potential with a hybrid P2P approach is that you have almost limitless scalability."
The hybrid-P2P approach blends delivery of live streams from multiple Velocix network caches, as well as sharing bandwidth with "peers." Each participant downloads the Velocix Download Manager, which includes optional P2P capabilities. When a user turns on the P2P function and watches the live broadcast, they effectively relay the signal to other audience members at the same time. The community P2P distribution process is managed in real-time by control and routing algorithms hosted on the Velocix Network.
Customers of Velocix include national broadcasters like the BBC and state-operated media in Brazil and Singapore, as well as new broadcasters like Babel Networks and Bollywood.tv. MediaCorp of Singapore has been one of the testbeds for the Velocix hybrid-P2P streaming solution for live broadcast of game shows including local versions of Deal or No Deal and Star Search. "We've done a lot of work with live events over the past 6 months," said Robinson. "You can't do this without experience. They're real world (streaming services), not built in a lab."
Velocix' predecessor, CacheLogic, began life as a consultant to ISPs seeking to track and manage P2P traffic on their networks. CacheLogic worked with BitTorrent, RawFlow and ISPs to develop the Cache Discovery Protocol, an approach that recognized and cached the most popular torrent files, and then seeded the files from servers within the ISP's network, reducing network traffic.
Velocix uses the same structure, adding a revenue-sharing relationship with the ISPs that host its caching servers. "We've built strong relationships with the ISPs," said Robinson. "We can take that same fundamental building block and work inside the ISP network. Because the ISP is now part of the value chain, it is less likely to shape traffic."
The Velocix Live Streaming product family also includes Velocix Live Video Streaming for Adobe Flash & Microsoft Windows Media, together with Velocix Live Audio Streaming.