Velocix, the UK-based content delivery service provider formerly known as CacheLogic, introduced a new line of live streaming solutions today, including live P2P streaming. Velocix is already working with a number of broadcasters, such as the BBC, as well as video startups such as the British Joost competitor Babelgum, so we can expect to see more live TV offerings pop up online in the near future.
Velocix isn’t the first one trying to leverage the power of P2P for live streaming. Recent efforts included Joost’s March Madness test, which got off to a rocky start. “It’s a technically challenging area,” admitted Velocix CEO Phill Robinson when I talked to him yesterday. But he believes that his company can do better than the competition.
Velocix as CacheLogic sold P2P caching products, but the company reinvented itself as a CDN provider early last year and has been offering CDN solutions ever since. It developed its own P2P technology, which Robinson described as “a derivative of BitTorrent.” The company’s P2P protocol is backwards compatible with BitTorrent, which explains why it counts Vuze as one of its customers.
The company’s new live streaming product line includes a traditional multisource CDN streaming product and a hybrid CDN approach that leverages multiple cache servers in addition to P2P delivery. Including P2P in the mix could give publishers a break anywhere from 30 to 80 or even as much as 90 percent on their bandwidth costs for extremely popular content, according to Robinson, who told me that he thinks traditional CDNs remain far too expensive for the delivery of movies and other video content. “The postal service is still cheaper.”
Velocix isn’t the only company working on integrating CDN services with P2P. Pando has been having some success with a layered approach that combines P2P delivery with any existing CDN; BitTorrent has been realigning itself as a P2P infrastructure player; and Akamai is working on its own P2P-powered solution, just to name a few. With live streaming popping up all over the place, it will be only a matter of time until some of these other players will support P2P-powered, real-time video delivery as well.
Of course, P2P still depends on users installing a client or plug-in, so beating the competition will come down to getting a high adoption rate. Robinson admitted that he doesn’t expect millions of consumers to install the Velocix browser plug-in on their own anytime soon, but he believes that partnerships with large industry players will eventually do the trick.
Velocix will be combining the soon-to-be-released Adobe Media Player with its P2P technology, which could help the company to get a bigger footprint, but VeriSign and Akamai seem to have similar plans. One thing is for certain: The race for the best integration of CDNs with P2P remains a heated one.