Limelight Networks [NASDAQ: LLNW]: Simplifying Sophisticated CDN Implementations

Bob Lento, CEO, Limelight NetworksBob Lento, CEO
Delivering compelling and engaging digital experiences is becoming a core differentiator for businesses. Be it website, videos, software, or games, it needs to reach the customers fast and secure irrespective of the devices and connections. This is easier said than done. Consumers tend to be impatient towards for slow, inconsistent, or unreliable content delivery. “The biggest challenge facing the industry is the growing complexity in delivering content to the masses. In the past, it was much easier to deliver content. Today, the abundance of choices is overwhelming, and delivering content from point A to point B is no longer an easy task,” says Bob Lento, CEO of Limelight Networks [NASDAQ:LLNW].

Addressing these challenges, Limelight Networks has built the ‘world’s largest global private network for digital content delivery,’ Limelight ASN 22822 that spans the globe with over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and over 19 terabits per-second of egress capacity. Data centers strategically placed around major metropolitan locations worldwide enable rapid and consistent delivery of large amounts of data. Rendering Limelight as the all round player in the Content Delivery Network (CDN) space is the company’s Orchestrate Platform which has a suite of software and infrastructure that addresses security, storage, cloud integration, accelerated delivery, and support needs. Leveraging the proven, global Limelight ASN 22822 network, Orchestrate ensures the reliability, consistency, and performance that consumers demand while also providing the security and availability that organizations need through the support of latest protocols like IPv6, HTTP2, and globally scalable SSL.

Clients pertaining to verticals such as web services, and software and device manufacturers leverage the offerings of Limelight Networks to streamline their distribution to render them capable of delivering updates on a schedule that keeps them on par with the market competition. For instance, when a new feature/upgrade has to be securely relayed to thousands of end-users, Limelight’s solutions can be integrated easily with third party and proprietary download managers. “Our global network has more egress capacity than a dozen pure-play startups combined,” mentions Lento.

Embedded in the Orchestrate platform is EdgePrism, an advanced caching proxy software with patented optimization technique that ensures media is delivered optimally on every request. The EdgeQuery component provides insights from behavioral data and is capable of real time reporting which according to the company, operates at the speed of digital transactions. The APIs built for the platform impart further flexibility to reporting, storage, and video functionalities. And placing clients at the pilot’s seat is the platform’s control management software, Limelight Orchestrate Control—a cloud based interface for managing all aspects of content delivery, self-service configurations, report generation, and access to support.

We are continuing to drive down latency across our network and we are doing that by modernizing the network – buying new servers and taking out the old ones – and software engineering

Incorporating security into the infrastructure are DDoS Attack Interceptor and Web Application Firewall (WAF) which can absorb volumetric attack traffic, and block application level threats, while passing legitimate traffic through to the servers.

Focus on Media and Broadcasting

From infrastructure to software to scale and security, organizations face a Herculean task in tackling the challenges associated with delivering digital content. As content and application delivery, and real time communications continue to grow at a rapid pace, CDNs are becoming an indispensible entity rather than an optional commodity. The value proposition of CDN becomes more pronounced when the nature of content is Video on Demand (VoD) or a live stream. Experts within the realm of media and broadcast would second the opinion that the wisdom within the phrase—‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ reflects best upon CDN.

The end-to-end delivery model of Limelight can be broadly classified into four stages starting off with ‘Ingest’ wherein inputs via live feed, VoD or any video format from multiple sources is uploaded to the CDN. The ‘convert’ phase has the EdgeServer housing EdgePrism to handle local request faster with lower response time. In addition to trans-coding video files to multiple formats, this phase has tools for closed captioning and video library management capabilities. The ‘deliver’ phase comprises of Origin—where content to be delivered is hosted (or backed up)—along with capabilities of authenticating users and providing access to content. The Limelight Origin Storage services are bundled with features for automatic content replication, Intelligent Ingestion which simplifies migration of content, flexible uploading and high speed retrieval among others. The final ‘playback’ stage comprises of security, authentication and geo-restrictions, multi device delivery, analytics, managed video library capabilities, and accelerated video portal functionalities.

Endorsing the capabilities of Limelight Orchestrate Platform is a case scenario of Channel 4, the British television broadcaster. To meet the increasing adoption rates of on-demand viewing across connected devices, Channel 4 was pressured to maintain smooth video delivery across a variety of viewing platforms while still maintaining low error rates.
Relying upon the Limelight Orchestrate Delivery Platform along with their proactive customer support, Channel 4 was able to broadcast quality content consistently and serve multiple devices using the same media file. The platform equipped the broadcaster—with viewers worldwide—to meet an unpredictable demand at any time. Of the success story, Channel 4’s New Media Operations Manager commented, “Channel 4 is known as an innovative trailblazer at the forefront of delivering programs to our viewers across the U.K. who prefer to watch on any device at any time. Limelight is a key part of making this happen flawlessly and has always proactively evaluated our configuration and suggested ways for performance improvement,”

Progressive Track Record

Lento says, “We provide the infrastructure that enables our customers to service their customers.” Commenting on Limelight’s record revenue growth of $3.3 million—the company’s highest in 23 quarters— Lento adds, “We have turned this company from one that used significant amounts of cash to one that over the last 12 months has actually generated cash, all while expanding capacity and our geographic reach. I am pleased with these results which I believe should position us well to achieve our financial goals in 2017.” Limelight Networks delivered a record level of traffic that was up over 20 percent from the first quarter of 2016 while reducing incident tickets by 16 percent.

"We provide the infrastructure that enables our customers to service their customers"

Since becoming the CEO of Limelight Networks in 2013, Lento has steered the company through a strategic path. With Lento on the driver’s seat, the board has executed strategic procedures which involve understanding the market stance to identifying the potential of CDNs and aligning Limelight Networks accordingly, making acquisitions, and emphasizing on expansion and customer satisfaction as the company progressed through time. “Over the last 3-4 years Limelight’s focus has been on growing the network in terms of reliability, performance, and capacity. We have also worked on innovative feature functionality that, to some extent, puts users’ destinies in their own hands, which has translated to a lot of self-service functionality such as recording and analytics capacity,” mentions Lento.

Holding the reins of Limelight and in a position to witness the disruption technology would bring upon the CDN space, Lento believes that 2017 would be a year when Over-The-Top (OTT) content would really take off. Although the VR disruption may still be a few years away, Lento expects the tech to cross crucial milestones this year. And as the CEO, he is preparing the company to surf atop the waves of change. “We will continue to build the quality of delivery and more capacity across more locations, and ensure that we can handle different types of content within the use cases we serve.” concludes Lento.