The pain of buffering in streaming videos

Tuesday June 23 2020

A buffering blunder. Different things can cause

A buffering blunder. Different things can cause videos to play inconsistently. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By Ashita Chopra

Almost everybody has encountered a stuttering video where it pauses to download data. While buffering blunders have occurred for a while, technocrats are on their way to finding a quick fix to it.
Edge computing is a new advanced service that simplifies processing and retrieving data in a snap of a second without stressing the bandwidth.

Currently, there are many service providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime that are involved in online streaming business. But they face challenges in keeping up with increasing consumer demands.

Edge computing, which allows content providers to cache popular content in edge facilities located closer to end users for quick and speedy access, will help these companies to expand services without compromising their current performance.

What is edge computing?
Computing solutions are designed for consumers in different geographical locations.
Previously, companies or providers would do everything in the core of their networks and let users traverse the Internet to access these services, which is slow (latency due to distances) and more costly, through multiple hops.
This concept was first introduced in the 1990’s by content delivery networks. It became much more popular in the 2000’s led by the big such as google cache, Facebook cache, cloud flare, Akamai and video providers such as Netflix.

This would give them an improved performance in the services that they delivered at a lower cost especially through peering with local Internet exchange points in country, that are already closer to the customer.
How is edge computing different?
As Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become an integral part of our lives, the data produced by IoT devices is sent back to a central network server. Once that data is processed, the instructions are sent back to the devices on the edge of the network.

However, this seems to have a snag in its setup. First, it takes time for data to travel from the edge device back to the centre for processing. This delay might only be a matter of milliseconds, but it can be critical.


Secondly, all that data traveling back and forth between the edge and the centre of the network puts tremendous strain on bandwidth. This combination of distance and high-volume traffic can slow the network down and it is referred to as network latency.

Network latency is time taken for data or a request to go from the source to the destination. It is measured in milliseconds and experts say, the closer the latency is to zero, the better for a device.

This is when edge computing comes in. It offers a solution to the latency problem by relocating crucial data processing to the edge of the network. Rather than constantly delivering data back to a central server, edge enabled devices can gather and process data in real time, allowing them to respond faster and more effectively.

Network latency can have serious consequences for IoT devices. Take, for example, self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles gather a tremendous amount of data from their surroundings and from other devices nearby.

If the vehicle’s reaction time is dependent upon instructions from the computing resources at the core of the network, the slightest delay could literally be a matter of life and death.

Cloud and edge Computing
In cloud computing, the data is collected and processed in a centralized location, usually in a data centre and this centralized nature of cloud computing makes it difficult to process data gathered from the edge of the network quickly and effectively.

Basically, cloud computing lacks in speed but has good scalability, it can expand its storage and processing capacity as needed. This scalability is a huge benefit for small businesses looking to expand quickly. Cloud Computing is more suitable for projects and organisations which deal with massive data storage.

Speaking to the Prosper, Mr James Byaruhanga, general manager, Raxio Data Centre said, “Edge computing is not a replacement of cloud but rather an improvement of cloud computing. In simple terms, this is shifting of computing power to the edge of the cloud rather than the core of the cloud.”

“This is achieved through virtualisation of the hardware in the cloud computing environment to create ability to provide multiple services on the same infrastructure to multiple clients and closer to the customers,” he added.
Future of edge computing
Edge computing cuts across various industries and its application is not only limitless, but it’s also evolving on a daily basis.

According Mr James Byaruhanga, general manager, Raxio Data Centre, this technology is already used heavily in our lives, but people are not aware .

“Providers of security solutions such as CCTV are already using similar services to provide a neighborhood with big brother type solutions, where the end user only needs a camera but not really a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) to record and store the footage. Everything else can sit in DVR in the cloud, however they can dedicate an edge device per neighborhood.”

Mr Byaruhanga says this technology is existing largely in IT solutions and is expectant to see age computing driving IoT solutions for businesses, Small and Medium Enterprises and residential marketing.