High bandwidth costs and heavy network infrastructure investments have been a paramount problem for most service providers as internet traffic continues to grow. Most of the traffic is predominantly driven by video/OTT content; more often than not caused by viral videos generated by users that resulted in thousands, or even millions of views within a short span of time.
This is coupled with the ever-growing mobile audience where users expect to access content whenever they want, wherever they go; and with considerable speed.
So how do service providers strike a balance in providing higher Quality of Experience (QoE) for users while reducing costs?
One palpable solution that has seen a rise in prominence over the past years is Transparent Caching.
What is transparent caching?
Basic caching simply involves placing a copy of the requested content closer to the end user. When the user requests the content, this content is delivered to his/her device from the cache that is nearer to the user instead of having the request being directed all the way back to the content origin and sending the content to the user again. In this way, content delivery takes less time and loads more quickly at the user’s end.
Transparent caching does the same thing, with the added impetus of making decisions (automatically) on which content should be cached (often based on popularity of the content) without the need for human intervention.
Benefits of transparent caching
For a service provider and any organisation serving rich media content, transparent caching offers many benefits.
For a start, as mentioned above, it requires no human intervention and automates the complex process of caching multiple types of content; hence, the name ‘transparent.’ This means that it doesn’t require any browser changes at user’s end or any DNS intervention at the origin. The cache benefits are seamlessly delivered and experienced by both the service provider (faster delivery and reduced traffic congestion) and the end user (faster access speed). In this way, transparent caching maintains an excellent end-to-end flow.
Another benefit is having more control. Imagine a service provider who receives a large amount of content requests from the users. Transparent caching allows the service provider more control in determining the type of content to be cached and how fast the content should be accelerated. Once these are defined, transparent caching is able to navigate the complex web of multiple protocols and services automatically.
Apart from that, service providers can save up on infrastructure investments (CAPEX savings) due to lesser load on the network, thus, the reduced need to expand network capacity to support bandwidth growth. The data volume crossing the transit links is also significantly reduced since fewer requests are sent back to the origin, therefore resulting in bandwidth savings.
Why is transparent caching important?
As you can see, the benefits of transparent caching are primarily tuned to the needs of the service providers and end users; the former is able to deliver content at a faster speed at lesser costs while the latter is able to enjoy a higher QoE due to faster access to their desired content. Speed is essential for today’s content-centric internet audience; how fast service providers deliver content to the end users determines the quality and repute of their services (see how speed of content delivery affects businesses).
As more rich media content are made available to satiate the demands of the users, more service providers are expected to take up the solution of transparent caching in the foreseeable future.
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