CDN G-Core Labs Plots U.S. and Global Expansion

Luxembourg-based G-Core Labs makes no bones about wanting to become one of the top five providers of cloud and edge services worldwide and says it could already be first among equals.

It is prepared to put its content delivery network to the test against competitors like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

"The most important technological task of any OTT service and TV channel is to provide the 100% seamless experience of live broadcasting or transmission of video content on demand, without delay and buffering," says Dmitry Samoshkin, G-Core Labs vice president of products. "Global content delivery networks, cloud media platforms, and hot storage are capable of solving this challenge to overcome oceans and continents in a few milliseconds to broadcast video with the necessary bitrate on any user's device, regardless of its location."

Founded in 2011, G-Core's first backbone network consisted of seven data centers located in six cities (Munich, Seoul, Singapore, Ashburn, Va., and Novosibirsk and Moscow, Russia). This grew to 23 points of presence (POPs) in 2013, and following relocation of its HQ from Vienna to Luxembourg in 2015 G-Core launched its first global CDN, chasing this with last year's debut of a cloud solution for live and VOD streaming on the back of over 50 POPs and 100 cache servers present on five continents.

"The idea to develop the company on an international scale came about five years ago, while working on a project for (publisher of mass online games like World of Tanks and World of Warships).

"When couldn't find a suitable CDN solution in terms of quality and price, we took on the task of providing a seamless online battle experience for players around the world," he continues. "Compared to providing live broadcast of a TV channel or an episodic series delivered OTT service, this was an even more ambitious goal: an online tank battle with the participation of hundreds of thousands of simultaneously playing gamers located in Chicago, Moscow, and Paris, every millisecond is important."

The resulting partnership became the defining one for the company's development. To deliver such heavy video content, G-Core Labs built its own high-speed CDN, which was used by 190,000 simultaneously playing users in 2013—winning itself a Guinness World Recordin the process (apparently the only cloud service provider to have been so garlanded). "After that, we decided to develop a universal international CDN service for the delivery of video, broadcasts, web applications, software, advertising and websites," explains Samoshkin. It claimed a new record in 2014 when its CDN sustained a load of 1,114,000 simultaneous players. 

"The main challenges were connected with the design of a network architecture, the development of a traffic balancing system, the provision of high-quality internet connectivity in the regions of presence, as well as the improvement of network performance. This is a separate big task which we deal with regularly," he says.

Media Platform 

The company promotes its Media Platform product overthe CDN of rivals by claiming three main differences: its global coverage; the integration of CDN and media platforms; and the offer of features that it says its competitors don't have. 

Taking these in turn; G-Core Labs' CDN has a presence on every continent, including the U.S. where it operates in more than 10 locations. It claims average response times of 28 ms in New York, 29 ms in California, and just 19 ms in Denver. A new POP is planned for Atlanta by end of this year.

Samoshkinclaims "the best network performance in the Americas and the best in Europe, Russia and the CIS" based on reports from Citrix it cites in various blog posts (including this one). 

"The total throughput of our network exceeds 7Tbps, [and] we have more than 4,000 peering partners, so we are ready for any peak loads," says Samoshkin."But what is especially important is that our CDN is integrated with a unique cloud media platform of our own design, which allows you to create—at virtually zero infrastructure costs—your own TV channel, online movie theater, or streaming service, broadcasting your content to any user device with the minimum possible delay."

He says that setting up any live or VOD stream takes no more than 5 to 7 minutes. Media Platform combines transcoding, CDN, storage and a cross-platform player for delivery and monetization of online entertainment.

The main distinguishing feature of it is "its integrity and the presence of all the necessary functions for high-quality broadcasting" says Samoshkin. "There are a lot of solutions on the market that deal just with small parts of video broadcasting. One company will only transcode, a second provides an HTML player, the third gives only statistics and analytics, others are engaged in content protection and bypassing ad blocking. And then you also need to find a CDN operator to deliver your video without delay, with whom you could integrate all these services. This is time-consuming and costly.

"By contrast, we have everything combined into a single service and with one intuitive personal account and API, which radically reduces the time losses and financial costs of broadcasting." 

CDN Considerations

He argues that the most effective CDNs have "edge ideology"—an architecture with many points of presence of cache servers distributed around the world. 

"The second parameter is the response time in a particular market. If your audience is located, for example, on the U.S. East Coast, in Central Europe, or Russia, it is important for your CDN operator to not only have local points of presence in these regions, but also to provide a good response time in comparison with other content delivery operators." [For example, see G-Core's blog post about its presence in France.]

Another important selection factor, in Samoshkin'sopinion, is the additional services of cloud provider, which are already integrated with its content delivery networks. For example, a developed CDN often also allows you to enable effective protection against DDoS attacks. He gives the example of U.S. video game publisher RedFox Games, which faced DDoS attacks when entering the Latin American market. "Pirates didn't want the copyright holder of the popular games Black DesertRF Online, and Rumble Fighterto appear on the local market, so they organized a series of powerful attacks. However, thanks to the capabilities of our CDN network and the unique technologies of intelligent filtering of network traffic from G-Core Labs, we managed to effectively handle all unfriendly actions of competitors."

He goes on to say that the market also expects a standardization of HTTP3 by Google. Its integration into the CDN network will allow, in G-Core Labs' estimation, a 15% improvement in download speed compared to HTTP2.

"Large media companies are organizing tenders for the purchase of CDN services and will select 2-3 content delivery providers, in order to receive maximum coverage in all regions of presence. As a rule, the issue of integrating different CDN networks is solved using a high-quality network traffic balancing tool."

Company clients include Michelin, Avast antivirus, Tinkoff Bank, and the Wargaming publisher.

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