Adaptive bit rate streaming is a practice used to automatically adjust the quality of a video delivered to a web page based on the viewer’s internet connection. The intent is simple and clear – to deliver the best possible viewer experience. However, HTTP based adaptive bit rate technologies are more operationally complex than conventional streaming technologies. Here are few thoughts that outline some of those complexities:

File Size: In HTTP based adaptive bit rate streaming, content is segmented into smaller blocks or objects. Most CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) struggle with large VOD files, especially while handling block sizes in storage. Decreasing block sizes may result in inefficient storage, effecting performance and causing a poor viewing experience.

Network Overload: HTTP based adaptive bit rate video streams cause more network traffic than MMS or RSTP streams. This is because HTTP based adaptive bit rate video streaming technology is very aggressive and fills up pipes whenever it can whereas regular streaming mechanisms have certain caps and limits.

Questionable Quality of Service: While viewers expect a quality viewing experience, there’s no guarantee to the quality of service delivered to viewers as QoE technologies sometimes do not meet up to the requirements. A quality video viewing experience is one where there is not buffer lag, but here there is no guarantee of delivering a true HD video.

The “Thundering Herd” Problem: The thundering herd problem occurs because caching servers are primarily designed to cache web sites. When the request for an object is initiated, the cache tries to pull the video from the file’s origin and share it with the requester. When multiple requests are initiated simultaneously, the video server is bombarded with requests and this puts a strain on system resources. This is exactly what HTTP adaptive bit rate streaming does and can be inefficient in this way.

The thing that you lack with adaptive bit rate streaming is, ultimately, control. Intelligent routing is a simple way to direct your video traffic and keep your network running efficiently. To learn more about intelligent routing, click here.