Skyfire - Cloud-Cache - Next-Generation Caching and Video Optimization 2014
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Skyfire - Cloud-Cache - Next-Generation Caching and Video Optimization 2014



Skyfire has introduced a cloud-based caching solution that brings significant reductions in operator server, peering and IP transit costs as part of Rocket Optimizer 3.0. This paper explains ...

Skyfire has introduced a cloud-based caching solution that brings significant reductions in operator server, peering and IP transit costs as part of Rocket Optimizer 3.0. This paper explains CloudCache's many benefits for mobile operators and their customers.



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Skyfire - Cloud-Cache - Next-Generation Caching and Video Optimization 2014 Skyfire - Cloud-Cache - Next-Generation Caching and Video Optimization 2014 Document Transcript

  • CloudCache™ Next Generation Caching and Video Optimization 2014
  • CloudCache™ Solution Brief | 2014 Page 2 Keep in touch CloudCache™ Solution Brief Introduction Caching is a technology heavily used to deliver content on the internet. Caching is the temporary storage of content for the purposes of re-using it at a later time, in order to improve the end-user experience, reduce resource utilization or both. The rationale for deploying caching technologies varies, depending on the application. One method of applying caching is to front-end servers in a server farm – thereby reducing load on the servers by intercepting and delivering popular objects. In this application of caching, the primary benefit is that it allows fewer web servers to be deployed. Another application is “edge caching”, as deployed by service providers – which is meant to save bandwidth costs (by reducing peering traffic, for example) and to reduce latency to improve the end-user’s experience. When used by service providers, caching may be utilized for either managed content or unmanaged content. For managed content delivery, Content Delivery Network (CDN) providers such as Akamai and Limelight may be paid by content owners to cache content at different locations throughout the internet; some service providers instead choose to implement their own CDNs for the same purpose. For unmanaged OTT (Over the Top) content delivery, transparent caching has been deployed at many different mobile operators, providing many of the same benefits. In some cases, both CDN and transparent caching functionality are provided by the same caching devices. The Skyfire Rocket Optimizer solution implements transparent caching of large objects – such as images and videos. We call this CloudCache™. The primary benefit of Skyfire Rocket Optimizer caching is to reduce the amount of CPU required for optimization. To provide this benefit, optimized objects are cached. Thus with a 20% cache hit rate on cached objects in the cache, 20% fewer servers will need to be deployed by the operator. Caching capability is now effectively “free” since it leverages hard drives already in servers. A secondary benefit of caching is the reduction of IP backhaul overhead. Thus peering and IP transit resources can be saved and content delivery to the subscriber can be accelerated. These savings are particularly important in parts of the world in which transit and peering costs are high. Skyfire CloudCache™ Skyfire integrates caching as a key component of its Rocket Optimizer solution to optimally deliver the best service experience for large content objects, particularly optimized video. Skyfire’s caching architecture is shown below: Optimize? Optimize! Rocket Controller CacheCache CacheCache Rocket Optimizer DISTRIBUTE CACHE • Leverage HDD of Optimizer HW • No additional hardware required • Transparent to content Provider • Object based INCREASE OPTIMIZATION SCALE • Directly proportional to cache hit rate • No regional awareness required Steering
  • CloudCache™ Solution Brief | 2014 Page 3 Keep in touch CloudCache™ Solution Brief In a typical Skyfire deployment, the Traffic Steering and Rocket Controller components are located in the regional distribution center. These components together identify “optimizable” traffic, and invoke a suitable policy. The Rocket Optimizer “cluster” situated centrally in the cloud (or data center) is invoked as video transcoding, large image optimization or other optimization functions are required. Each Rocket Optimizer server in the Cloud/data center generally has built-in hard disk drives. Using these as storage for the distributed caching mechanism is a natural extension to the way the servers have been utilized for real-time optimization. Video optimization and transcoding is CPU intensive, whereas caching is storage intensive. By combining the two functions within the same server, it is possible to most optimally leverage the hardware investment. Caching reduces the CPU burden and increases the leverage of otherwise spare resources. Skyfire speaks of caching as a ‘zero hardware’ solution, since no additional or external HW usage is required. For Skyfire’s Rocket Optimizer Release 3.0, Skyfire is utilizing the HDD in each Rocket Optimizer server, making each one a part of a large, pooled cache. With dual 300GB HDD’s being mostly the typical minimum available HDD capacity for a server, a 40 optimizer cloud configuration will result in a massive 10+ Terabyte cache (when configured in RAID1) and even more if HDD redundancy is not required. It should be noted that the cache focuses on optimized video, which has a lower storage requirement than unoptimized video. Furthermore, at only 300-500 kbps per optimized stream, the Gigabit port is capable of serving thousands of cached videos simultaneously. At this point, the only question is cache hit rate. The cache hit rate may vary significantly depending on the mobile operator. Cache hit rate may range anywhere between 10% and 30% depending on factors like homogeneity of the population, primary language, and preference for local vs. global content. As an example, a mobile operator in Hungary, for instance, would likely see a higher cache hit rate than a mobile operator in the United States – because the “long tail” is longer for English-language content than it is Hungarian-language content. Object-Based Intelligence Skyfire Rocket Optimizer caching is based on object-level file intelligence. Thus, each content item as requested by the user is first checked for accessibility and availability from the content provider. This ensures that all content validity and access restrictions are enforced and compatible with providers. This ensures additionally DMCA compliancy since any removed content will be immediately noticed by the system. Furthermore, as the availability of an item in the cache is not based on URL, but on the content fingerprint itself, it circumvents any complex URL to content mapping, and/or incompatibilities with URL session parameters that require provider specific URL intelligence as can be observed with some content caching solutions. The Skyfire optimizer CloudCache™ can be configured to be egress only (e.g. only cache optimized content) or egress and ingress. In egress cache mode, the Skyfire Optimizer is a perfect complement to an existing transparent cache solution in the network, as it handles automatically the fetching, creation, storage and dissemination of optimized video appropriate to the condition at hand (client, network etc.). See as well Caching Strategies, later in this paper. Case one: Transparent Cache Between Mobile Operator and Internet One way is to deploy a transparent cache between the Skyfire Rocket Optimizer system and the internet. The figure below shows transparent caches between both the cloud/data center and internet, as well as between the regional distribution center and internet. In this deployment scenario, no real integration is needed regardless of how the transparent cache operates. Large objects requested from the internet – be they optimized or unoptimized – will be cached transparently. This will reduce peering and transit costs for the operator. Using the transparent cache in this way is functionally similar to having Skyfire cache unoptimized objects (on ingress).
  • CloudCache™ Solution Brief | 2014 Page 4 Keep in touch CloudCache™ Solution Brief However, Skyfire Rocket Optimizer only caches large objects. As such, there are three main configuration options: OPTION 1: Skyfire Caches Optimized Content, 3rd Party Caches Unoptimized Content Cache all unoptimized content in the 3rd party transparent cache. Turn off ingress caching on Skyfire Rocket Optimizer, and use Skyfire cache for egress caching of optimized objects only OPTION 2: Skyfire Caches Large Objects, 3rd Party Caches Small Objects Turn on ingress and egress caching on Skyfire Rocket Optimizer, and have the transparent cache handle small objects only – increases hit rate for transparent cache solution. OPTION 3: Skyfire CloudCache™ Only Re-deploy transparent cache, and rely on large object caching in Skyfire Rocket Optimizer Case two: Transparent Cache Between Cloud/Data Center and Subscriber Another way to implement transparent caching (not mutually exclusive of Case #1) is to cache closer to the edge of the network. In this scenario, the transparent cache is situated between the RAN and the Skyfire Rocket Optimizer cache. Therefore the transparent cache will see both optimized and unoptimized media objects delivered to the device. Interoperability with the Skyfire Rocket Optimizer in this deployment scenario has a dependency on the means by which the transparent cache identifies “cache hits”: URL-BASED CACHING URL-based is the older method, and uses the destination URL. This method has become less popular for a number of reasons. First, many web sites are moving to “dynamic URLs” that change for each request, and URL-based matching does not work for dynamic URLs. Second, identical content located at different URLs will have to be cached multiple times with URL-based caching methods. Third, URL-based matches may result in stale content being delivered. Like many other popular sites, Skyfire also utilizes dynamic URLs and may cause problems with URL-based lookups. Thus the transparent caching solution has to implement specific code to take Skyfire’s URL naming scheme into account. If the transparent cache vendor has a mechanism to flexibly address the lookup based on Skyfire’s URL pattern, then caching of optimized content items from Skyfire can be principally accomplished. FINGERPRINT-BASED CACHING The newer method of cache lookup is to use the content “fingerprint” or “signature.” A correctly implemented fingerprint lookup method will work well with a Skyfire Rocket Optimizer system. In this case, the transparent cache will request a portion of the content from the Rocket Optimizer at the time the redirect URL is received from the client. It will then compare the fingerprint of the received content to the (already optimized) content in its cache. There is a fingerprint match if the cached content is optimized with exactly the same optimization profile as the new optimization request – thus matching the current device and network condition. If there is a match, the cache will drop the connection to the optimizer, and deliver the content to the client directly. A more complicated use case arises in the event of a partially cached file that is abandoned by a user. If the transparent cache supports caching of partial files, it will get a cache hit on the “fingerprint” at the beginning of playback. Prior to reaching the point in the file where the earlier user abandoned the session, the transparent cache will send a request to the optimizer to re-establish the session. The optimizer will optimize using an identical set of optimization parameters as the Rocket Controller Regional Distribution Center Traffic Steering Cloud/Data Center N+1 Transparent Cache Internet CacheCache Cache Cache Rocket Optimizer
  • CloudCache™ Solution Brief | 2014 Page 5 Keep in touch CloudCache™ Solution Brief partially cached file. The new content will be merged with the cached content and the session will continue uninterrupted. This should be verified within a lab environment prior to deployment. Caching Strategies – Multiple Configuration Options When Skyfire Rocket Optimizer coexists with a transparent caching solution, there are a number of different options for how to configure it. These include: OPTION 1: Skyfire & 3rd Party Share Caching Duties Cache large objects in Skyfire Rocket Optimizer CloudCache™ system (since cache effectively comes “free,” and has the benefit of sharing cache information between optimizers). Cache small objects in 3rd party transparent cache (now with more capacity available with no large objects) OPTION 2: 3rd Party Caching Only Disable caching in Skyfire Rocket Optimizer, and handle all caching via transparent cache OPTION 3: Skyfire CloudCache™ Only Re-deploy transparent cache, and rely on large object caching in Skyfire Rocket Optimizer Conclusion – Skyfire Caching: Flexible, Efficient and Cost Saving CloudCache™ is an exciting enhancement to Skyfire’s existing Rocket Optimizer solution. In addition to the bandwidth reduction across the RAN and backhaul and the improved consumer experience of optimization, Skyfire caching serves two further objectives: 1. Reduce the number of servers required in the cloud/data center 2. Reduce peering and transit costs Skyfire’s large object cache also increases the efficiency (hit rate) of in-line transparent cache systems by offloading large objects. However, if mobile operators wish to use a transparent caching vendor to cache large objects as well, Skyfire Rocket Optimizer can and will fully interoperate with that system. Skyfire’s policy engine provides global mobile operators with total flexibility to set their caching policies to provide maximum benefit across their operations. About Skyfire Skyfire, an Opera Software company, is dedicated to leveraging the power of cloud computing to radically improve the mobile Internet experience for both operators and their consumers. Skyfire’s innovative, next-generation carrier cloud approach to mobile video and data optimization provides wireless operators with huge cost savings, elastic capacity, and the ability to surgically enhance quality of experience on a per- stream level. The company has also introduced the first mobile browser extension platform to enable robust contextual & social browsing, as well as enhanced monetization opportunities for operators. The company currently counts 4 of the largest mobile operators in the world as customers for its Rocket Optimizer™ and Skyfire Horizon™ solutions. Skyfire was founded in 2007, and is located in Mountain View, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley. We welcome customer inquiries at Visit us at for more information. © 2014 Skyfire, Inc. All rights reserved. Skyfire, the Skyfire logo and other trademarks, service marks, and designs are registered or unregistered trademarks of Skyfire and its subsidiaries in the USA and in foreign countries. All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.