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Storing Only Once: A Better Streaming Infrastructure

August 21, 2023

(Based on the Article: Encoding and Storing Only Once: The Road to CMAF Adoption)

The current state of streaming infrastructure is a bit of mess. The standards that makeup said infrastructure are all linked by competing streaming services and devices. Because of this, there are a lot of redundancies in the current system. These redundancies lead to lower streaming quality and higher carbon emissions. Luckily, in 2016, a solution was found to combat these redundancies and create a smoother streaming infrastructure: The CMAF.

CMAF stands for Common Media Application Format. The protocol came from a combined effort on the part of Apple and Microsoft to create a more interoperable streaming infrastructure and reduce both companies’ carbon footprints. Though these companies usually compete with one another, they’ve come together to reduce their negative impacts on the planet and create a better system so their customers can have an enhanced viewing experience.

Though this protocol came out in 2016, it’s still not yet widely distributed. HTTP Adaptive Streaming (HAS) holds the current infrastructure together by breaking video content into small chunks that can be encoded into different codecs and supplied over HTTP. The issue is that individual companies were coming up with their own HAS protocols, which led to the aforementioned redundancies in the infrastructure. CMAF promises to fix that, but several hurdles must be addressed first.

First and foremost, integration with the current infrastructure has been difficult. CMAF doesn’t replace the existing protocols. In fact, it’s meant to utilize them in a way that makes distribution possible while only have one storage source. However, this tech didn’t integrate right away. It’s gotten much better and is constantly improving, but it still has a long way to go before every streaming service and device can utilize it.

Still, progress has been promising, and many devices now only need one packaging and storage source to function, cutting emissions and improving streaming performance. As CMAF continues to improve, more companies will adopt the protocol, leading to a much more efficient streaming world. It’s good for the companies, good for the customers, and good for the earth.

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