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Project Himalaya: When Two Networks Combine

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Around 40-50 million years ago, India and Eurasia collided together. In a slow-moving crunch, the two land masses experienced a special phenomenon. With both having similar rock density, their edges pushed skyward together, driving the Himalayas up into the cold blue sky. Two sides came together to create something new.

When Limelight and Edgecast combined in the summer of 2022, we faced some sizable challenges in bringing together two massive networks. But with those challenges came opportunities, some of which were shortly realized after the deal had closed.

Only 45 days after the ink finished drying, we were approached to handle delivery for a large sporting event. Our client came in with a lofty request for total event capacity, which was compounded by the difficulty of acquiring bandwidth in the host country. Each network was able to handle about half of the customer’s expectations, but together, we were able to give them a unified experience. In any other multi-CDN engagement, the customer would be required to set up multiple CNAMEs with specific load balancing rules that would dictate traffic share between the networks. Instead, Edgio was able to offer our internal load-balancing and health monitoring systems to confidently handle the traffic, with overflow capacity being able to accommodate needs beyond that.

We moved forward with the project, hosting the traffic over a single host name in the country of origin. Over the course of the event, we delivered 550Gbps total. From the customer’s perspective, they had one single CNAME and a single unified account experience. Behind the scenes, the Edgio internal load balancer was used to distribute traffic based on point-of-presence (PoP) health, preferred network routing, and traffic engineering rules to best handle the live event between two CDN networks. This culminated in a seamless outcome between our two networks, giving our client all the benefits of a multi-CDN experience, without the hassle of handling multiple vendors at once.

Together, we delivered almost half a petabyte in a few hours.

The vast majority of viewers were based in the host country, with smaller portions in the neighboring nations. Because of this, we kept the traffic based in the host country. Despite the lofty initial capacity estimates, the combined networks were able to comfortably deliver the needs of the multi-day project. Edgio became the network vendor with the highest total share of the event, a testament to the hard work of the teams that came together to make this happen.

Beyond sporting events, this process can be used in other areas. Today, our existing customers are using our targeted load balancing technology to seamlessly blend our networks by end viewer ISP, country of delivery, for congestion avoidance, or end-user latency, to name a few. These options add more regional network capacity, as well as a higher level of performance. It also allows clients to receive a smooth, uninterrupted experience with unified billing. This framework is currently in place with other large media clients of Edgio.

Project Himalaya is the result of not only two networks coming together, but two separate teams joining forces to build something special. Our solution gives our clients a unified experience while allowing us to do things like conducting A/B testing in-house. There are various growth areas that lie ahead for this process, which we’ll explore as our capabilities grow into the future.