Limelight Networks [NASDAQ:LLNW]: The Content Delivery Masterminds

Robert A. Lento, President, CEO & Director “The biggest challenge facing the industry is the growing complexity in delivering content to the masses. In the past, it was much easier to deliver content. Today, the abundance of choice is overwhelming, and delivering content from point A to point B is no longer an easy task,” says Robert A. Lento, President, CEO, and director of Limelight Networks [NASDAQ:LLNW]—a provider of CDN to some of the biggest entities in the broadcast arena. From infrastructure to software to scale and security, organizations face a Herculean task in tackling the challenges associated with delivering digital content themselves. As content and application delivery, and real-time communications continue to grow at a rapid pace, CDNs are becoming recognized as an indispensable entity rather than an optional commodity. For instance, aside from delivering content over more protocols, producers have to create multiple bitrates of the same file to render it compatible for a plethora of mobile devices while reducing redundancy; for even the slightest shortcoming in delivery could cost content providers their audience appeal which would in turn lead to losing opportunities for content monetization.

The wisdom within the phrase— ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ reflects best upon Content Delivery Networks (CDN), and experts within the realm of broadcast and video delivery would second the opinion. After crossing the gates of post production, video content is funneled through CDNs to enable content to reach a global audience seamlessly. Working through a system of distributed servers, CDNs do the heavy lifting to deliver content irrespective of the geographical location of the end-user. The value proposition of CDN becomes more pronounced when the nature of the content is of Video on Demand (VoD) or live stream. As opposed to the DIY CDN, the benefits of commercial CDNs include speed time to revenue, reduced CapEx requirements and internal workloads.

A CDN All-Rounder

Claimed to be the ‘world’s largest global private network for digital content delivery,’ Limelight’s ASN 22822 spans the globe with over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and 19+ terabits-per-second of egress capacity. Data centers strategically placed around major metropolitan locations worldwide enables speedy delivery of large amounts of data with consistency. Rendering Limelight as the all round player in the CDN spaces is the company’s Orchestrate Platform which has a suite of software and infrastructure that address security, storage, cloud integration, accelerated delivery and support. Leveraging the proven, global Limelight CDN, Orchestrate ensures the reliability, consistency, and performance that consumers demand while also providing the security and availability that organizations need through support of the latest protocols like IPv6, HTTP2, and globally scalable SSL.
Offerings of Limelight Networks are leveraged by clients pertaining to verticals such as web services, software, and device manufacturing to streamline their distribution rendering them capable of delivering updates on a schedule that keeps them at par with the market competition. For instance, when a new feature/upgrade has to be securely relayed to thousands of end-users, Limelight’s solutions can be integrated easily with third-party and proprietary download managers. “Our global network has more egress capacity than a dozen pure-play startups combined,” mentions Lento.

We provide the infrastructure that enables our customers to service their customers

Embedded in the Orchestrate platform is EdgePrism, an advanced caching proxy software whose patented optimization technique which ensures media is delivered optimally on every request. The EdgeQuery component provides insights from behavioral data and is capable of real-time reporting which according to the company, operates at the speed of digital transactions. The APIs built for the platform imparts further flexibility to reporting, storage, and video functionalities. And placing clients in the pilot’s seat is the platform’s control management software, Limelight Orchestrate Control—a cloud-based interface for managing all aspects of content delivery, self-service configurations, report generation and access to support. The DDoS Attack Interceptor and Web Application Firewall (WAF) can absorb volumetric attack traffic, and block application level threats while passing legitimate traffic through to the servers.

Backbone of Media Delivery

The end-to-end delivery model of Limelight can be broadly classified into four stages starting off with ‘Ingest’ wherein inputs via live feed, VoD or any video format from multiple sources is uploaded to the CDN. The ‘convert’ phase has the EdgeServer housing EdgePrism to handle local request faster with lower response time. In addition to transcoding video files to multiple formats, this phase has tools for closed captioning and video library management capabilities. The ‘deliver’ phase comprises of Origin—where content to be delivered is hosted (or backed)— along with capabilities of authenticating users and providing access to content. The Limelight Origin Storage services are bundled with features for automatic content replication, Intelligent Ingest which simplifies migration of content, flexible upload, and high-speed retrieval among others. The final ‘playback’ stage comprises of security, authentication and geo-restrictions, multi-device delivery, analytics, managed video library capabilities and accelerated video portal functionalities.

Endorsing the capabilities of Limelight Orchestrate Platform is a case scenario of Channel 4, the British television broadcaster. To meet increasing adoption rates of on-demand viewing across connected devices, Channel 4 was pressured to maintain smooth video delivery across a variety of viewing platforms while still maintaining low error rates.
Relying upon the Limelight Orchestrate Delivery Platform along with their proactive customer support, Channel 4 was able to broadcast quality content consistently and serve multiple devices using the same media file. The platform equipped the broadcaster— with viewers worldwide—to meet an unpredictable demand at any time. Of the success story, Channel 4’s New Media Operations Manager commented, “Channel 4 is known as an innovative trailblazer at the forefront of delivering programs to our viewers across the UK who prefer to watch on any device at any time. Limelight is a key part of making this happens flawlessly and has always proactively evaluated our configuration and suggested ways for performance improvement.”

Progressive Leadership Strategy

Lento adds, “We provide the infrastructure that enables our customers to service their customers.” Commenting on Limelight’s record revenue in 1Q 2017, he said, “We have turned this company from one that used significant amounts of cash to one that over the last 12 months has actually generated cash, all while expanding capacity and our geographic reach. I am pleased with these results which I believe should position us well to achieve our financial goals in 2017,” Limelight Networks delivered a record level of traffic that was up over 20 percent from the first quarter of 2016 while reducing incident tickets by 16 percent.

"Our global network has more egress capacity than a dozen pure-play startups combined"

Lento was named the company’s CEO in 2013 and has since steered the company through a strategic path. With Lento on the driver’s seat, the board has has executed strategic procedures which involved understanding the market stance to identify the potential of CDNs and align Limelight Networks accordingly, making acquisitions, and emphasizing on expansion and customer satisfaction as the company progressed through time. “Over the last three-four years, Limelight’s focus has been on growing the network in terms of reliability, performance, and capacity. We have also worked on innovative feature functionality that, to some extent, puts users’ destinies in their own hands, which has translated to a lot of self-service functionality such as recording and analytics capacity,” mentions Lento.

Sitting at the helm of Limelight and being in a position to witness the disruption technology would bring upon the space, Lento believes that 2017 would be a year when Over-The- Top (OTT) content would take off. Although the impending VR disruption may still be a few years down the lane, Lento expects the tech to cross crucial milestones this year. And as the CEO he is preparing the company to surf atop the waves of change. “We will continue to build quality of delivery and more capacity across more locations, and ensure that we can handle different types of content within the user cases we serve. I can confirm that we are continuing to drive down latency across our network and we are doing that by modernizing the network—buying new servers and taking out the old ones—and software engineering,” concludes Lento.

Limelight Networks

Tempe, AZ

Robert A. Lento, President, CEO & Director

CDN that ensures reliability, consistency, and performance that consumers demand while also providing the security and availability