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The future of online game content: We talked with Gary Croke of CacheLogic about a game content delivery version of its VelociX peer-assisted content delivery network (CDN). In a traditional CDN, a provider allows users to obtain their data directly from the provider’s cache of servers, so if one server goes down, there are other servers to take up the slack. However, as bandwidth demands increase, pressure increases on traditional CDN models to provide fast downloads without significantly increased costs.
With peer-to-peer, also called P2P, the content is distributed throughout a large number of peer computers, either through download to the peers, or the peers discovering the data. Other peers pick up the data, and it is distributed over hundreds and hundreds of computers, allowing large amounts of downloads to everyone on the peer network. Since many peers are computer users like us, large amounts of data downloads and uploads can significantly impact not only our bandwidth, but the bandwidth of other peers who we are downloading or uploading to/from.
CacheLogic’s solution merges P2P and the CDN model into a peer-assisted CDN. In this model, both traditional caches and a peer network, such as BitTorrent, are used. A game publisher, for example, who is distributing news and screenshots for a game might want to use just the CDN part of the network. But when the game is ready for digital distribution, Croke says, they can turn on the P2P side of the distribution network to augment the increased bandwidth that will surely result from huge numbers of gamers trying to download the game. Once the bandwidth demands taper off, the publisher can then turn off that part of the service until it's needed again.
The user interface for the service is also convenient and easy to use, with billing, technical support, and regular updating of bandwidth, upload/download speeds, etc available. We took a look at the map available of current global coverage, and were rather surprised to see that 90 percent of their data centers were either in the US or Europe. Only one existed in south Asia, in Singapore. We would have expected to see more in other parts of Asia, actually.
With impacts on bandwidths on game content providers and the increasing use of digital distribution of game content, a peer-assisted CDN seems to be the next logical step in digital content distribution.
Omaha Sternberg is the producer and host of the iGame Radio podcast.