Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Netflix, Youtube and the CDN.

It's amazing how I managed to completely lose out on video streaming and the CDN.

I started the first PC sound recording / playing device company in 1987 Zebra Research , Audio Byte (should have been Sound Byte, but customer went and trademarked our brand) .

From having started streaming video from a microscope in in 1989 across the Stanford campus and being able to teleoperate it, as project MUTLAS Multiple Location Time Lapse System.

I worked on the TCP/IP drivers for DOS and in 1989 I was able to stream audio across a TCP/IP socket and play it in real time on the PC, as well as from a Floppy Disk.

I creating the first real time streaming video codec Cell-B, using vector quantization in 1992 on a short term contract for Sun Microsystems CEO directly. We streamed to 13,000 viewers from 384 Sun Servers, globally .

Earlier that same year I had posted the source code for the BSD Unix Operating system (386/BSD) to the internet having had helped in a small way to port it to the PC.  My primary interest was in being able to do Video more effectively.   I have since had a lot of influence over the FreeBSD video system and had written V4L2 Linux Kernel Drivers.  My contract employee we hired to fix the FreeBSD audio system later went on to head the FreeBSD project, Luigi Rizzo.

In 1993 Sun shares this codec with Xero Park and it make it in to the NV first video conferencing software

By 1994 I had my product Livecam working somewhat, I also partnered with Xing to create Streamworks Mpeg 2 streamer based on their windows MPEG player.

 I recieved $100,000 for my Startup Netsys in 1994 to build the first CDN, Netsys Inc.  I called it the SDSN Symmetrically Distributed Server network.

By 1996 Netsys failed, and a new company had formed DVT (Digital Video Technology) and IBS (Internet Broadcast Systems) we have 1M simultaneous streaming viewers watching live content. By 1997 we went broke because we could collect credit card payments and the cost of Bandwidth.

In 1997 in Korea we built the first Digital CCTV systems with Internet video stream from rehashing the livecam technology. I developed the first multichannel Video capture board, initially 16x multiplexer in to one video capture card.  connected to a printer port, but this was quickly integrated in to a single board, and immediately copied across Seoul by everyone we showed it too.

In 1998 we reformed again in to DVBS, Digital Video Broadcast System, which went public on the Vancouver Stock Exchange in 1999 only to crash and burn taking down a profitable company with it.

I put the last of my savings in to Enumera 2000/1, a Cell Processor company with an architecture similar to CUDA as well as the first Blade Servers. The cooling solutions later became Nisvara 2002 - 2006. 

The next 6 years were lean times.

In 2003 VCT Vision CCTV dvr company was formed, and fell about around 2006. 

In 2006 I worked with Citrix Online to help scaling and capacity planning, on the roll out of 1080p HD video conferencing in to GotoMeeting and a stream of GotoX products.

Their CDN was built out original from the head Sysadmin from one of the ISP's we partnered with in 1996 and had built out a very similar system to what I had at that time.

Youtube started in 2005. There largest provider of Bandwidth is Peer one, and ISP we worked with in 1999 with DVBS to build out our CDN again. They successfully implement by idea of reaching so much bandwidth that you can force Peering agreements and get the Bandwidth for free because it starts costing more ISP's to not offer you a caching server.

Netflix started streaming services in 2007, and by 2009 had built an internal control center called Netflix Content Control Plane (NCCP). NCCP's job was to steer the end user to the right edge (CDN location), whereas the actual content delivery was done by third party providers like Akamai, Level 3 Communications, and Limelight Networks. The team moved to an internal CDN in 2011, calling it Open Connect, and with it came the entire job of managing the infrastructure.


Netflix Content Control Plane (NCCP)


Netflix's move to their in-house CDN -- Open Connect

They run on a custom fork of FreeBSD with NGINX.

Even the OS I had a hand in and NGINX is similar to the (now long abandon)  Afterburner web server developed by Aryeh Friedman and myself. 

Because of this whole cycle of boom and bust, with inconsistent investment and revenues we would lose all the patents before any of them get completely finished being filed. 

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