Cloud Storage Considerations for your Streaming Media

HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is the language of the Internet, and has been for more than twenty years. HTML5 is the latest version, and with the definitions standardized just this month by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the latest update includes better security, cross-browser compatibility, and ease of implementation to tasks like content delivery, streaming media, and interactive content, according to Rackspace blogger Phillip Thomas.

In the past, complicated and clunky JavaScript or Flash code was needed to embed and deliver music, podcasts, or video. But HTML5 lets you use a much simpler, HTML-standard tag to link the audio file, Thomas said.

Of course, even though it’s easy to embed, delivering quick, seamless playback is another story. As Thomas said, “A music or podcast file may easily be larger than the rest of a webpage combined. Thus, it’s difficult to ensure playback is quick and scalable on a normal file server.”

That’s where a Content Delivery Network (CDN) comes in. Basically, a CDN is a number of highly optimized web servers located around the globe, distributing data to geographically disperse servers worldwide. When users access your site, static content – like cascading style sheets (CSS), audio, images, videos and the like—will be delivered from the server that's closest to a user’s physical location. This leads to huge performance improvements. A CDN is beneficial for almost any organization with a Web presence, in any industry, but for ecommerce sites that are heavy on graphics and photos, or for media-heavy and streaming media sites, a CDN is especially valuable.

Rackspace’s Cloud Files offering, in particular is a great option for organizations looking to reap the benefits of a CDN. With Rackspace’s Cloud Files and media hosting, you can accelerate delivery of videos, pictures, audio, and HTML-based Web pages to users around the globe. Cloud Files is backed by the Akamai CDN, which has 213 global locations to position video, images, HTML files, or audio closer to your users, for faster delivery of your website's static content.

The new HTML5 standards aren’t just great for delivering audio files, they're perfect for streaming video, too. “By hosting videos yourself, you can avoid ads, third-party branding and size limitations,” said Thomas.
Historically, video has been embedded using Flash, and most hosting has been on large social sharing sites like YouTube, Thomas said. The new HTML5 standard requires much simpler code and native support is included in all modern Web browsers – no more plug-ins.

Since video makes up half of total bandwidth usage in the US, according to Ars Technica, a CDN becomes even more critical if you’re hosting video on your website. The advantage of having a scalable, globally distributed network like Rackspace Cloud Files allows you to easily and quickly serve thousands of users, without missing a beat.

By Sharon Florentine
Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from data center technology to holistic veterinary care and occasionally blogs for Rackspace cloud files and media hosting .

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