Content Delivery Networks Evolve in a New Era of Storytelling

The future of visual content will be unlike anything we’ve seen before. Previous decades of video entertainment have brought incremental improvements in terms of quality, delivery, and access. The next decade, however, will bring entirely new forms of interaction and immersion. We are moving from passive content to rich, intelligent experiences that evolve along with the viewer. Three years ago, my colleague Jim Blakely wrote about why modern technological convergence allows for this evolution.

A perfect example of the new era of media is Netflix’s select-a-path film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Though Netflix is traditionally guarded about the viewing habits of its 130 million subscribers, the company reportedly saved every choice users made when watching Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s dozen different endings. Those choices could, speculatively, be used to determine future content production based on user preference. At a recent presentation in Mumbai, Netflix’s Todd Yelling said the streaming company is “doubling down” on interactive content due to the popularity of their first feature.

This is just the beginning of what global audiences will come to demand. Competition among creators is likely to increase as well, further fueling innovation. Disney is looking to challenge Netflix by drawing from its pool of Lucasfilm and Marvel properties by slating a string of new, exclusive material for its new, yet-to-launch streaming platform. As 360 video, virtual reality, and cloud gaming mature, this competition for attention will skyrocket.

Meeting Demand

Content delivery networks (CDN) must upgrade as we enter this new era of interactive storytelling. CDNs, distributed networks of proxy servers and data centers, have become necessary to deliver the rapidly increasing amount of high-quality, streaming video to end-users. According to Market Research Future, global video streaming market is expected to grow at 17% CAGR into 2023. This rapid growth is forcing telecommunication providers to deliver several over the top (OTT) services along with traditional channels to maintain customer loyalty, putting strains on network infrastructure and making virtualization necessary.

The growth of video-on-demand creates increasing challenges for storage. Vendors historically used spinning hard disks for their capacity and low cost-per-gigabyte, but in order to fill modern network pipelines and maximize TCO, there’s an increasing need for SSDs. SSDs are more reliable and ultimately necessary to make the transition to next generation entertainment, and fortunately, SSD price-per-gigabyte has fallen dramatically with innovations like Intel® QLC NAND. Similarly, the increase of live video can put strains on memory, creating an opportunity for new architectures and caching methods.

Advanced Technology

At NAB Show 2019, I am excited to meet with other industry professionals following the release of the new 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and public availability of Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, which, together, will propel the industry forward to deliver high bandwidth, low latency across a number of visual cloud workloads. Because the technologies are optimized across the infrastructure, there are immediate, tangible benefits to providers.

Intel is committed to advancing visual cloud technology in order to meet the demands of current and future content delivery workloads. Architecting these solutions requires close collaboration with industry professionals, which is why Intel partners with academics and contributes to open source initiatives. Earlier this year, I noted the progress being made at the Intel Science and Technology Center (ISTC) for Visual Cloud Systems with Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington. Last year, Intel’s Jim Jeffers joined the governing board of the Academy Software Foundation, an exciting new chapter in using open source technology in the creation of motion pictures.

Additionally, Intel is announcing Open Visual Cloud at NAB Show 2019. Open Visual Cloud is a software-first, open source project with reference pipelines for visual cloud use cases, such as content delivery network (CDN) live streaming, 1:N transcoding, and analytics to accelerate the pace of developer innovation in visual cloud services and applications. Read my colleague Craig Hurst’s blog on how Open Visual Cloud will bridge current industry technology gaps.

Part of our ongoing support for the industry also includes new Intel® Select Solutions for Visual Cloud Delivery Network. Like other Intel® Select Solutions, this new reference architecture combines unique hardware and software ingredients across compute, storage, and memory. These components are utilized to optimize existing open source caching frameworks so that service providers can quickly and easily take advantage of the advanced technology. Because all Intel Selection Solutions are validated and benchmarked, providers can trust that the flexible, full-stack solutions will accelerate time to deployment, simplifying the procurement process with greater ROI predictability. We will continue to work with ecosystem partners to create solutions with tangible total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits. For full details about the new solution, visit the Intel® Select Solutions page.

If you’re also attending NAB Show 2019, I invite you to come by South Hall 207 to hear all the avenues Intel is pursuing to help content delivery evolve to meet the next era of demand. For more information about Intel’s vision for advancing visual cloud, visit

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Lynn Comp

About Lynn Comp

​Lynn A. Comp, Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager, Visual Cloud Division, Network Platforms Group, is responsible for the P&L associated with visual cloud projects across the Intel Data Center Group (DCG), driving strategy development and execution across hardware and software to accelerate the delivery of solutions for graphics, media and video processing, immersive media, and video/media analytics. Comp joined Intel in 1999 as part of Intel's acquisition of Digital Semiconductor's StrongARM processor team, where she was responsible for both marketing and technical support of mobile system-on-a-chip designs. She has since applied her extensive experience in marketing, product management, product planning and strategy development to drive cross-domain and cross-industry innovation, from the early days of the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), through to the recent Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor launch. Comp has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an MBA from University of Phoenix.