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Summary:

Apple has queued up Akamai to power today’s highly anticipated live stream of of product announcements by CEO Steve Jobs in San Francisco. Contrary to reports the company would use its new data center, the stream will be outsourced to Apple’s long-time CDN partner.

Akamaistreams

Apple has queued up Akamai to power today’s highly anticipated live stream of of product announcements by CEO Steve Jobs in San Francisco (which Om will be covering live on GigaOM). Contrary to reports the company would use its new North Carolina data center for the event, the stream will in fact be outsourced to Apple’s long-time CDN partner.

I know this is a battle of various reporters claiming their sources are right, but if my reporting is correct you’ll actually be able to see it for yourself. Akamai displays a real-time visualization of its active streams, and breaks out live streams specifically. I’m expecting we’ll see a significant bump from the current total global live streams powered by Akamai — currently a bit under 600,000 — right at 10 a.m. PT.

A source familiar with Apple’s streaming plans said that not only is the North Carolina data center not yet online, but one single facility could likely not handle such an event; large, distributed global audiences are exactly what CDNs are built for. (As a side note, apparently one of Apple’s major concerns about executing the stream was the level of demand coming from its own employees watching from the network at its Cupertino headquarters.)

Though Apple isn’t geoblocking the stream, it is limited only to Apple devices. That’s because Apple has yet to port its HTTP streaming technology to QuickTime for Windows. The company considered using traditional RTSP streaming for Windows users, but according to the source, decided the quality wouldn’t be sufficient. I suppose they could have also enlisted Microsoft’s Silverlight HTTP streaming, but considering it’s Apple, that was probably out of the question.

This is Apple’s first live video feed of an announcement in a long time; Macworld keynotes used to be streamed, but for the last five years fans have had to rely on live-blogging from reporters attending the closed-door events.

Apple’s HTTP streaming is an adaptive bitrate technology, meaning it can detect a watcher’s bandwidth and CPU capabilities in real time and then adjust the quality of a video stream. This requires encoding a single video at multiple bitrates and switching to the most appropriate one on a moment-by-moment basis (something companies like Inlet Technologies have pioneered). The result is very little buffering, fast start time and a good experience for both high-end and low-end connections.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Next Big Thing in Online Video: Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

  1. Well, the biggest giveaway is the domain in the URI to the feed is “edgesuite.net”, which is an Akamai domain

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  2. It’s pretty obvious that Akamai is serving the live stream. Look at the URL for the live stream page:

    http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/1009qpeijrfn/event

    Anyone who is a customer of Akamai will recognize that Edgesuite.net URL, and the whois lookup confirms it: http://whois.domaintools.com/edgesuite.net

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  3. Can’t go by their dashboard. If you trace the stream (http://stream.qtv.apple.com/events/sep/1009qpeijrfn/1009oiubqherbfoteg_audio_ref.mov) and then lookup the IP address, it comes back to Apple but that could be CNAMEd from anywhere.

    Not sure either way as of yet. Still need to do more digging.

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  4. Paul, the URL you reference is to the page of the event, not to the video stream. Akamai is serving up the content around the stream, but maybe not the actual video.

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  5. Liz, Akamai just confirmed for me that they are in fact delivering the live stream.

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    1. Great — I have been coordinating our live coverage and haven’t been able to pester them. Thanks Dan!

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  6. I work with Akamai daily, and the page and everything else around the event screams Akamai tech.

    If they were just streaming the page, you would have seen it as just an Apple.com domain.

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  7. I think the interesting thing to come out of Apple streaming this event is how little people understand about the streaming itself. That may partially explain why there hasn’t been a rush to implement it. Nobody really cares how these things get streamed but only that they do and there are plenty of ways to do this already. This will play out as HTML5 video starts to take off, browsers speak HTTP and that is where Apple’s streaming shines.

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  8. [...] GigaOM: Akamai Powering Apple Live Stream (And I Can Prove It) [...]

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  9. ha ha ha

    rayburn, guy you dont even know how a cdn works, take a seat chief

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  10. did someone actually check the akamai live traffic monitor during the event? Screenshot?

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  11. [...] fuentes que decían que retransmitirían la misma desde el nuevo data center para retransmitirla, al final fue Akamai quien lo hizo. Desde mi punto de vista era demasiado precipitado y no podían garantizar la calidad de servicio. [...]

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