We coined the term “Serverless CDN” back in 2012 when we founded Peer5. It refers to to the fact that no servers are involved in the delivery of video through our network. However, this term is a bit of a misnomer as we don’t want to completely get rid of servers as Servers can do the important work of ingesting, encoding and transmuxing video.
So really, Peer5 is the Serverless CDN that works in combination with your server-based CDN to provide an elastic and scalable hybrid solution for seamless video delivery. Like teamwork!
Alright, let’s zoom out a bit and explain some of these terms we just threw at you. There are many different types of Servers, but we’re referring to Media Servers that store all the video files you are trying to play over the internet.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a collection (or network) of Servers. A CDN makes watching a video file easier, by saving a copy of that video on Media Servers in several locations around the world, so that the content is physically closer to you. You can think about fetching these video files from a CDN like going to a bookstore, instead of having to go all the way to the printer themselves.
Peer5’s Serverless CDN operates in parallel with Media Servers. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) simply means requesting the video file from another user who has already downloaded it, instead of from the CDN (Hey, can I borrow that book from you?). Because P2P enables viewers to share video files with each other, we can stream video without using any servers, making it “Serverless”. The viewers that you’re sharing files with might even be closer to you than the nearest CDN Media Server, so the speed of file delivery can be even faster!
P2P mesh networks are great for high stress broadcasts, or peak streaming times. These events tend to overload Media Servers, making them unresponsive to users’ requests for video files, causing the dreaded buffering wheel, or crashed the stream completely. This is a bad thing in the world of video streaming. We’re dealing with milliseconds (studies show that users will not tolerate 200-300ms of delay in video start time) - and is the root cause of everyone’s biggest complaint about streaming: buffering. Peer5 solves this problem by dramatically reducing the workload of the Media Servers - if viewers are able to get the video files they need from other viewers, then they’ll leave the Media Servers alone, freeing them up to service requests from viewers who can’t borrow from a neighbor. The end result is that everyone has a better streaming experience.
In brief, a Serveless CDN is a peer-to-peer mesh network of users, that works in partnership with a CDN.
If you’d like to see Peer5’s P2P video delivery options for yourself, feel free to take our free trial!