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Akamai, Octoshape and the challenge of video delivery

Akamai and octoshape logo

On Monday, Akamai announced that it had acquired the streaming service provider Octoshape. The industry has been rather quiet about the news, but we think it’s high time to make some noise.

This is huge for peer-to-peer and multicast video delivery. Founded in 2003, Octoshape developed an extensive range of multicast streaming solutions and has long been an advocate and innovator in peer-assisted delivery.

While there may be many underlying motivations for Monday’s acquisition, it sends a clear message: CDNs need help handling traffic, and they’re looking to alternative innovations to do it.

And that’s not just a hunch. Akamai’s not the first (we can cite Yahoo’s acquisition of RayV last July) and will most likely not be the last.

Last year at a speech at MIT, Akamai CEO Tom Leighton identified “four grand challenges” facing the internet. At the top of his list were two issues that we talk about here on a regular basis: delivering high quality video at scale, and instant web performance on every device. In Leighton’s own words:

“As more video gets consumed over the Internet, and on devices that can display higher-quality resolution, it is important for us to develop new ways to acquire, transform and distribute the highest-quality media for broadcast-size audiences.”

In Akamai’s official press release about the Octoshape acquisition, the CEO added:

“We are working to continue to extend our platform to accommodate video throughput increases that come from the adoption of 4K, and to support a potential 100-1000X increase in network traffic in the future.”

With exponential growth in online viewer numbers and increasing unpredictability of audiences, the current system simply isn’t enough. These are pretty big statements from a company that already delivers nearly 30% of Internet data across the world.

As far as the biggest CDNs have come and as many millions (or billions) of dollars they have poured into their infrastructures, the explosion of video traffic is presenting challenges that we have never before had to surmount.

We are at the dawn of a new era for the CDN industry in which peer-to-peer, edge networks and multicast delivery will be increasingly necessary to handle Internet traffic. This has long been our belief and our vision of the future for video streaming.

This acquisition comes just a week before some of the biggest industry player gets together for the 2015 NAB Show. As we prepare to head to Las Vegas, we can’t help but be proud to be at the forefront of peer-to-peer video streaming.

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