June 7, 2017
2 min read time

HTTP streaming: Riding the wave


It seems like an eternity ago, perhaps, that the first live-streaming event took place on the internet back in 1995. And the technology, too, has moved swiftly to manage demand. Ten years after this pioneering streaming event, most internet traffic was HTTP-based and CDNs were quite common. In other words, finally the infrastructure reached the level of maturity that enabled high-performance streaming. HTTP is the closest thing we have to a universal transport protocol and also enables content caching - ideal for managing the multiplying audio and video content of which the web is increasingly composed of.

Nevertheless, despite improving conditions for HTTP streaming, there were some challenges to iron out. Global audiences may request content from an origin located in some faraway place, leading to slow delivery: the kiss of death for any website serving content. Breaking up media into smaller objects and using HTTP caching to ensure efficient delivery served as a solution.

HTTP streaming, in general, relied on an origin web server, which could be quite slow in managing each incoming request. It would require numerous servers to be able to delivery to a global audience with any hope of efficiency. Varnish, with HTTP at its heart, figured that throwing a Varnish server into the mix would take care of these issues instantly, caching and serving content, and as a side bonus, acting as an origin shield to protect the backend. As far back as 2008, Varnish has been used by many global companies to stream live and on-demand online programming, field GeoIP recognition, and ensure stability and high performance in delivering highly in-demand video content.

By the mid-2010s, where we find ourselves today, about two-thirds of all web content is multimedia (audio and/or video). Thus, this content is not only ubiquitous, in essence, taking over the internet, most major content platforms have shifted to aggressively target mobile, which is what users demand. There are always new user-experience demands and new technical challenges to address to ride the wave of HTTP streaming.

To learn more about this HTTP streaming history and what’s coming and how Varnish can help you deliver your streaming content, join us for a live webinar.

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