Review: Jet Stream VDO-X

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During Streaming Media Europe 2008, held in London last October, Jet Stream BV, a Netherlands-based company, won the Readers’ Choice Award for the best European Content Delivery Network (CDN) with its StreamZilla service.

“We actually started StreamZilla as a demo CDN,” said Jet Stream BV founder Stef van der Ziel, “to demonstrate our technologies. It quickly became popular among Dutch content owners, so we decided to offer the service internationally.”

As one of Jet Stream’s major revenue sources, StreamZilla is also a profitable CDN that scales, delivering more than 2 billion streams in 2008. The financial success of StreamZilla comes from the fact that, in part, it relies on the infrastructure peering arrangements that the major European broadband access providers have at key points throughout Europe. StreamZilla has more than 450 European Union (EU) customers ranging from broadcasters to video portals/publishers and enterprise customers.

The second reason for StreamZilla’s success, though, is the underlying technology that Jet Stream sells to network operators, including well-known broadband access providers, hosting providers, enterprises, and backbone operators. StreamZilla has used the Jet Stream technology since 2003.

This dichotomy between the “demo CDN” that has received significant end user and customer accolades versus Jet Stream's core focus on the creation of CDN tools that it sells to other CDNs presents an interesting conundrum. Unlike Highwinds, a U.S.-based company that creates underlying CDN technologies but only sells wholesale services to CDN customers, Jet Stream has to deal with issues surrounding the question of providing its technology to its own CDN first.

“We don’t see StreamZilla being in competition with our CDN partners,” said van der Ziel, “especially as we expand internationally beyond Europe.”

Enter VDO-X

While Jet Stream started as a webcasting production company and then morphed into a provider of CDN technologies—and the operator of a nascent but growing CDN—the technology code written in the late 1990s and early 2000s was becoming a bit dated.

As a result, Jet Stream announced in mid-2008 that it was going to re-engineer its CDN technology from the ground up. The response was very positive.

“When we published an online teaser, we got tremendous requests from various countries, including Russia, Brazil, and China,” said van der Ziel. “We are already partnering with global network owners and system integrators.”

So what exactly is VDO-X? The acronym stands for Video Exchange CDN Manager. During a demonstration of the VDO-X system, I found it has several innovative aspects, including key management interfaces to cover servers, networks, products, accounts, statistics, and overall CDN status. Let’s look at each of these areas.

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