Peer to peer (P2P) networking techniques have long been nibbling at the heels of traditional content delivery networks (CDNs) and we have even seen disputable blockchain-based architectures emerging as potential video delivery disrupters. Neither of these technologies are harnessed by an edge storage company called G-Core Labs, which has burst onto the CDN scene with a back-to-basics approach – built from the ground up in 2011 by disgruntled gamers.
Luxembourg-based G-Core Labs caught Faultline’s attention this week with the announcement of a new public cloud infrastructure, lauding the launch as the company’s most important move this year. While largely obsolete on its own, G-Core Labs has developed a CDN network footprint spanning over 50 points of presence, more than 200 nodes, and reaching a capacity exceeding 10 Tbps.
Of course, G-Core Labs isn’t about to dethrone Akamai and Limelight Networks overnight. But it does claim some CDN uniqueness in the way it exchanges traffic between the CDN and sources, in that it occurs within the core network backbone – thereby making it possible to deliver heavy content like video and gaming with minimum delay.
So, what’s so special about the addition of public cloud infrastructure to the portfolio and besides, surely G-Core Labs is late to the public cloud party? This is an essential step for online companies to be successful, particularly to withstand a peak influx of website users, for example in a sale period like this week’s infamous Black Friday. A public cloud can also help support the launch of new video streaming services, when opening day can cripple the existing infrastructure, as seen most recently with Disney+.
G-Core Labs’ public cloud features a multifunctional virtual data center allowing firms of all shapes and sizes to scale their infrastructure, while supporting the launch of new products and services, without breaking the bank. The G-Core Labs cloud is currently based in Luxembourg, while a few countries are due to follow including Moscow, Frankfurt, Singapore, Sidney, Santa Clara, Sao Paolo and Khabarovsk.
Picking a public cloud also means there is no need to install additional hardware, therefore coming in much cheaper, although private cloud infrastructure is considered more secure and allows companies to have greater control over their data.
“Today, our public cloud already offers a standard functionality of cross-functional virtual machines, not limited in capacity, with the options of smooth automatic scaling, system backup, and data disaster recovery. We allow our clients to create virtual cloud networks where they can set up private clusters to do necessary computations or to isolate a certain set of applications within their own cloud network”, says Vsevolod Vayner, G-Core Labs Cloud Platform Department Head.”
Russian mobile operator Beeline, jointly owned by telco groups VimpelCom and Veon, is one notable customer case study, using G-Core Labs infrastructure supported by CDN technology from Broadpeak to power the Beeline TV service. Beeline TV is based on the Kaltura TV platform as well as Kaltura partners including OTT video software suppliers Oxagile and iWedia.
G-Core Labs promises a reliable network architecture based on four principles. It attests to opening new PoPs close to end users of its clients and choosing the best data centers and major traffic exchange points. It also claims to maintain a reliable performance by quickly redistributing traffic by an optimal percentage between existing nodes when at peak loads, while keeping traffic local by managing four independent network segments – North America, Asia, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan).
Interestingly, it says data centers are selected based on the amount of tier 1 and tier 2 operators and local traffic exchange points. Anycast balancing is also brought into the frame, so that a client’s provider compares the number of autonomous systems between the G-Core Labs CDN and the user and sends the request by the shortest path. Anycast balancing is best suited to countries with an outdated DNS geodatabase, such as Russia, according to the vendor.
In the space of just 18 months, active development in the traffic within G-Core Labs’ CDN infrastructure has risen from 1 Tbps to 3.5 Tbps, and the company is now using 100 Gigabit networking equipment in all new locations and is gradually upgrading equipment across its footprint.
Prices start at €25 ($27.50) a month for 1TB (€0.025/$0.027 per GB), up to €150 ($165) a month (€0.015/$0.017 per GB) for 10TB, and it also offers a 14-day free trial with a 300GB cap. CloudFront, for comparison, costs about $0.085 per GB, so around $85 per TB.
G-Core Labs also has partnerships with majors like Comcast, Telia, NTT, Level 3, PCCW, Telstra, Tata, Telefonica, Turk Telecom and plenty more. Telia supported G-Core Labs’ early rise, when back in 2012, the Swedish telco was brought in to provide IP Transit, before Telia connected G-Core Labs’ global offices with a Layer 2 VPN (Virtual Private Network) Ethernet system and connected its datacenters with an EVPL (Ethernet Virtual Private Line) system. On a Layer 2 VPN, routing occurs on the CPE, usually on the customer edge router.
G-Core Labs earned its stripes in the gaming sector – breaking a record in 2014 when it served 1.1 million online gamers simultaneously on a single MOG (multiplayer online game) server. Through recent advancements like adding public cloud infrastructure and the unprecedented boom in video streaming, we won’t be surprised to see G-Core Labs claiming some major scalps in the coming years to add to its current niche customer roster. Of course, providing supporting infrastructure for companies wanting to tap into the Russian market is another unique part of the G-Core Labs appeal.