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13 February 2020

Wowza drives closer to the edge with Fastly, nDVR support next

OTT video delivery is heading in two directions – up towards the cloud and out to the edge. In its latest step on this journey, streaming video pioneer Wowza Media Systems has inked a partnership deal with network technology vendor Fastly, a company that impressed us at the Video Streaming Exchange in London in early December 2019, to bring high-speed content delivery and near real-time visibility into bandwidth consumption.

Basically, Wowza is bulking up its intelligent diagnostics and analytics capabilities through the integration with Fastly’s edge cloud platform infrastructure. This comprises 66 high-density points of presence (POPs) in strategic global locations and 58 Tbps of edge capacity (as of September 2019). Fastly says its network combines real-time insights with “comprehensive global reach”, while Wowza plans also plans to support VoD, network-based digital video recorders (nDVR) and syndication down the road.

Fastly fancies itself as an edge cloud platform expert and also claims to be the only CDN that can cache unpredictable and frequently changing content such as web-store inventory data or comments sections in real time. Keeping more content in cache for longer means bypassing the origin for faster load times.

It’s clear that Wowza is much more than an origin server company today, having co-founded the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) low latency streaming protocol in collaboration with Haivision. This latest integration with Fastly will serve as a foundation for emerging low latency technologies like SRT, as well as Low Latency HLS and CMAF, and bringing real-time processing closer to the user.

However, Fastly’s website only lists support for HTTP-based streaming protocols and therefore doesn’t appear to support SRT yet. We suspect Wowza will be pushing the idea of open source SRT adoption.

A whitepaper from the SRT Alliance argues that HTTP-based streaming has pervasive delays, claiming that 30 seconds is not uncommon due to multiple buffers along the signal path. SRT is famed for allowing for both packet resends and different levels of forward error correction, depending on the condition of the network.

Meanwhile, Fastly’s edge cloud platform is designed to cache and rapidly deliver both frequently requested and long-tail, on-demand videos. With cache hit rates of 97% or higher, significantly reducing origin load while accelerating time to first frame (TTFF). In addition, its on-the-fly packaging (OTFP) feature facilitates immediate playback, enhancing viewer experiences across multiple devices and platforms.

Fastly’s fully programmable developer’s edge, modern architecture and advanced request collapsing capabilities have allowed the edge cloud platform to become a leading innovator in live streaming and video delivery. Wowza’s integration with Fastly is an extension of this effort, aimed at accelerating Wowza’s customers’ time to success.

“Having good observability is a critical part of ensuring quality of experience when streaming a live event,” according to Fastly’s head of streaming media and cloud Lee Chen. “That means visibility across an entire streaming stack, which is uniquely able to help you monitor, identify issues and gather more details so you can react faster during a live broadcast. That kind of observability is incredibly valuable, and our partnership with Wowza enables those insights into viewership and exposes critical last-mile performance data in Fastly’s real-time logging.”