Product Focus: Introduction to Verizon EdgeCast’s WAF

At the beginning of June 2014, we announced the beta launch of our cloud-based Web Application Firewall (WAF), a security product designed to monitor web traffic in order to detect and prevent attacks against web applications.

Our WAF simplifies how customers can block and fend off attackers by offering more controls and tools than other cloud alternatives. Early press and analyst coverage has been positive, such as this piece by Dan Rayburn of Streaming Media, who said “[…] they have a whole lot more rules available in their first version of their WAF product than other vendors do.”

Another critical feature of Verizon EdgeCast’s WAF is the minimized reaction time to attacks. Updates can be pushed out in less than five minutes to all Verizon EdgeCast servers on a worldwide basis – up to 900 percent faster than competitive offerings.

In these three short videos, recorded at Velocity 2014 in Santa Clara, Hayes Kim, Director of Product Management, walks through the key features of our WAF and explains its command-and-control plane:

Simple four step set up

Easy Management 

Real time dashboard and event log

To learn more about the Verizon EdgeCast Security offering, please visit http://www.edgecast.com/services/security/

Client spotlight: Nexmo

At Verizon EdgeCast, we work with companies that are driving innovation in media, ecommerce, and high tech. In this section, we feature our most forward-thinking customers and tell their stories of creating superior user experiences and powering the digital future.

Nexmo: Enabling business critical phone and messaging communication, globally

For online businesses and apps, two-factor authentication has quickly become a critical step along the way to rapid growth. With acquisition costs of up to $10 per user, companies need to make sure that account verification happen quickly and seamlessly; a failed message or phone call usually means losing a potential (or existing) customer.

That’s the challenge Nexmo, a 2014 CNBC Top 50 Disruptor and Gartner Cool Vendor, sets out to solve. Companies such as Snapchat and AirBnB trust Nexmo’s SMS and voice APIs to connect to phones globally to authenticate their users.

In an article about the company, GigaOM outlined the gap that Nexmo is closing for its customers:

There’s a fundamental disconnect between the networks built by telecom operators, which traffic in […] protocols like SS7 and SIP, and the IP-and web-centric world of app developers.

Nexmo’s cloud APIs act as translator between those two worlds - enabling developers, online providers, and enterprises to embed messaging and voice services into their applications.

In most cases, this is a business critical process, one that should happen securely and in near real-time. Verizon EdgeCast allows Nexmo to scale globally while protecting its cloud from potential DDoS attacks, both on the application and network layers.

In this video, Tony Jamous, Nexmo’s founder and CEO, describes his company’s leading cloud technology - and how Verizon EdgeCast helps reduce latency by up to 70% for millions of API calls each day:

Mobile viewing biggest driver behind World Cup streaming record, our data shows

Sitting in the living room was certainly one way to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In the changing media environment, it was just one of many options.
The World Cup quickly became the most streamed live sporting event in the U.S., as Americans tuned in to this year’s tournament on their smartphones, tablets and computers in record numbers. 
The question of whether or not streaming big television events is worthwhile is officially over. The 2014 FIFA World Cup epitomizes the shift in the media business. Live video distribution on web and mobile is an inextricable part of the TV business model. 
Viewers - and advertisers - now have baseline expectations that live TV programming also will be available on multiple devices, in beautiful broadcast quality. 
Looking at our customer base and multiple World Cup matches, we collected a sample of data to reveal how digital fans in the U.S. chose to tune in to all the action:
image
TVTechnology published a great write-up on our findings, stating that 
[…] the majority of that so-called second-screen viewing was mobile, with the iPhone being the dominant mobile viewing device. Android devices pulled in 28 percent of second-screen viewing, while the iPad snagged 11 percent. 
It’s safe to assume that fans on mobile devices will experience connectivity issue at one point or the other - underlining the importance of using bit-rate adaptive streaming technology for live events.
For more information on our Broadcast and Live Streaming solution, please visit www.uplynk.com/

Mobile A/B testing and what retailers can learn from Uber– the latest UI/UX trends in ecommerce

Interview with Randy Osborn of DailyLook

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed the rise of mobile computing and the early signs of its future significance. Smartphones and tablets represent a rapidly-increasing share of our online activities. Anyone who sells anything on the Internet must design their shopping experiences from a mobile-first perspective. This is especially true in light of research that shows mobile shoppers spend more than desktop shoppers.

To talk about these new design priorities in the ecommerce world, we interviewed Randy Osborn, product management consultant at DailyLook and formerly head of mobile product at JustFab.

Regarding your product and UX, what’s changed, what’s new, what’s exciting? 

I don’t know if this is directly product related, but the ease of A/B testing these days is incredibly important. ‘Always be testing’, I think that’s a huge factor. We use Optimizely at DailyLook, and now they’re starting a new native mobile version. The importance of these SaaS companies that make it easy to go in and test simple things along the way is huge. They make it really easy. 

What kind of mistakes do you think people are still making today? 

People are still porting everything they have on their desktop version to their mobile version. One specific example is form fields. Form fields on desktop are not nearly as big a pain point as on mobile.

Obviously, mobile is huge. It’s going to overtake desktop, and it already has in some markets. If you have 10 form fields that you require people to fill out, you’re going to lose them. Every form field is a chance for people to jump off (which is also true on desktop, but the numbers aren’t nearly as drastic). 

I think a lot of organizations aren’t considering that they need a mobile optimized version of their site. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an app all the time. Product people must take into consideration the viewport, or the medium, that users are consuming through.  We see that all the time. I know it costs money to build a mobile-optimized version, but you’re probably losing a lot more money by not creating a good user experience. 

What have you seen that you think has been done right recently?  

Read More

Removing the complexity from live streaming: how to get your video to your viewers across a diverse range of devices

By Paul Heitlinger, Product Manager, Live Streaming

If you want to stream video to multiple devices today, which format do you use?

One of the biggest problems we hear from companies is how to reliably reach the myriad of connected devices available today - without adding to the cost and complexity of transcoding multiple times and into multiple formats.

The streaming industry today relies on different formats from different vendors to reach different devices. Those prevalent formats include:

  • Apple’s HLS for iOS devices
  • Adobe RTMP and HDS for desktop (with Flash) and Android
  • Microsoft Smooth Streaming for desktop (with Silverlight) players

On top of that, MPEG-DASH and HEVC are looming on the horizon as emerging codecs.

Traditionally, if your viewers use multiple devices such as desktop PCs and Macs, iOS, Android, and CE devices such as Roku and Xbox, you need to transcode in at least two formats.  

With more and more viewers watching video on mobile devices, you’d also have to create between four to seven (we’ve seen requests for ten!) bit rate streams and resolutions to ensure that video can be viewed under all sorts of conditions (and varying connection speeds).

This would require investment in transcoders, licenses, hardware, network capacity (don’t forget you’d duplicate outputs for each format) and associated operational expense in supporting all that hardware and software:

image

 

Then you hoped that everything just worked. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. The following quote, taken from an article on Pando.com, sums up what unfortunately still happens way too often:

We paid for the […] service, bought the $500 […] box to encode the stream, and proceeded to spend countless hours wrestling with said equipment when everything failed. The stream would crash; the audio would stop working; or a chunk of the program would play in an endless loop. There was a handy comment section, so we could track how pissed off all our viewers were and watch the numbers tick down as people stopped watching.

That shouldn’t be the experience.

Read More

Verizon EdgeCast’s Keynote at Velocity 2014: Powering the World’s Biggest Live Events

How does a multi-terabit network like Verizon EdgeCast enable the future of IP based video delivery?

During her keynote at Velocity 2014 in Santa Clara, Hala Al-Adwan, Verizon EdgeCast’s VP of engineering, gave insights into how we power live streams that reach millions of users worldwide:

Front-End Optimization, Automated and at the Edge

When you visit O’Reilly’s Velocity conference, you’ll frequently hear that fast and optimized webpages lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions. Plus, user expectations are constantly on the rise, so the pressure to deliver fast and reliable web experiences is greater than ever before

With so many moving parts on both the front- and back-end of a webpage, web developers have almost countless “best practice” optimizations to choose from in order to speed up their sites.

Verizon EdgeCast, together with Google’s Page Speed team, set out to make things easier (and websites faster). As an industry first, we introduced automated front-end optimization integrated directly into our network. Now, instead of having to go through code manually to uncover hidden performance boosts, Edge Optimizer conducts on-the-fly optimization, on the edge server closest to the end user – all without requiring any changes to site code (one of the many clients that are using Edge Optimizer: Build.com)

We sat down with Google’s Matt Atterbury to explain how Edge Optimizer, powered by Google Page Speed, automates front-end optimization directly at the edge:

The State of Finance in Ecommerce

This isn’t 1999 anymore. Our technological capabilities and scale have grown exponentially during the last decade and a half. But the tech isn’t the only thing that’s different. Financing these innovations has changed quite a bit as well, with investor appetites and expectations looking nothing like the “old days.”

To speak to these changes as well as the role of trust in financing decisions, we interviewed Greg Bettinelli, a prominent venture capitalist with Upfront Ventures.

What are you seeing right now on the financing side of the e-commerce world? 

I think as a whole, the investment community has become far more educated, or re-educated, around e-commerce and has a definite list of characteristics that companies need to have in order to be considered for investment. I think there is a greater appetite to see traction in the marketplace before investment consideration, meaning you’ll see very few pre-revenue or even early revenue e-commerce financing. I think we, as investors, want to see some level of transactional volume before really considering investment. 

Other things that we’re looking for are really differentiated e-commerce concepts - concepts that won’t run directly into the wheelhouse of someone like an Amazon. We’re really looking for differentiated products, whether it’s from the functionality, from the design aesthetic, or most importantly, from the gross margin of the product.

On that note, what would you consider traction? At what level do you think a company has demonstrated traction? 

 Well, that depends on what round of financing we’re talking about. Let’s say beyond a “Friends and Family” round or any round of funding above a million dollars (and I assume it’s not someone who used to run Amazon), I think we want to see transactions around $100,000 per month. We’d like to see those transactions primarily driven organically. I’m probably less concerned with product margin at that point and more concerned with, if you spent $200,000 to get that $100,000, that’s not interesting. We don’t want to see customer acquisition and lifetime value in a Series C deck. We’d rather see that the product is differentiated; the market is speaking; you can put it in a box, ship it and scale that to some degree. We want to see that customers like it.

Me, as a personal investor, I’m less interested in businesses that are considered high fashion. I don’t mind fashion, but the idea of being a high fashion business is less attractive than other categories. 

The other thing that we look for early on is, what is your unfair advantage? Why are you able to do things that no one else is able to do? That could be an authentic founder with a unique point of view. It could be that you have proprietary supply chain relationships. Access to incredible design talent. It could be that you have a product category that has a unique and protectable margin structure. Whatever it is, it has to be more than just a good idea and early traction, but also something that you can count on being your long-term unfair advantage. 

How does trust play a factor when you’re looking at a company and deciding on financing? 

Read More

The State of Technology in Ecommerce

As an increasing amount of purchasing activity moves onto the internet, consumers’ expectations of speed and privacy are becoming more stringent. To talk about the technical aspects of creating an exceptional user experience as well as recent privacy and security risks in ecommerce, we interviewed Charles Serian, CTO of Smart Living Company.

What would you say is the current state of ecommerce technology? What’s happening, what’s new, what’s different?

Ecommerce as a technology is mainstream and as such, technologists spend most of their time refining things that we’ve been doing for well over a decade. The one thing I would say is new and exciting (though it’s not new globally) is mobile and tablet, specifically responsive design. Trying to make sites look great and behave well on a tablet is really the big thing this year.

The reason I say it’s not really new is because I can remember writing WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) interfaces for ecommerce sites over a decade ago. So it’s like the market has finally caught up with technology and the end user has caught up with what technologists always thought was going to be cool. I think that’s the hot thing for 2014 – trying to get a really great experience for the user on the web, on the phone, and on the tablet.

Obviously, with frontend development, there’s a lot to do with product design and how it’s coded. However, when it comes to backend technologies, what are the difficulties you’re seeing with server-side or infrastructure development? 

I see that more on the frontend as well because in a traditional SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) implementation, your approaches to service development are not device specific. As such, the approaches remain relatively the same as they’ve been for years – services move data and provide functionality. The challenges I see in services and infrastructure are around uptime, security and scalability.

What changes have you seen on the data/server side? 

Over the years, ecommerce has gone from something that people thought would be very cool and might catch on to something that has really become commonplace and has been for a while. When I think about what’s changed on the backend and the middle layer, I think a lot about scale and speed.

Read More

Connecting Fans to the Court: Creating the Ultimate Fan Experience

Sports viewing is driving digital video growth, according to the latest Adobe Digital Index Benchmark Report. With one quarter of all digital sports viewing happening on mobile devices, broadcasters, sports teams, leagues, and advertisers are waking up to the true value of online content viewed outside of the living room.

Fans everywhere are demanding sports content from their favorite team anywhere and on any device, giving those in the multi-billion dollar sports industry an opportunity to capture a bigger share of media consumption and advertising revenue. Here are three trends in sports media, and tips on how teams, leagues and broadcasters can create the ultimate fan experience with the proper assist from technology.

Social is a Slam Dunk        

Our Verizon Millennial Survey suggests that 65% of Millennials use a second device while watching TV. Twitter was rated as the second most popular social network among Millennials (48%) — using it almost twice as much as non-millennials (29%).   

For sports brands this means: reaching a younger audience will almost automatically result in higher social engagement. Case in point: the NBA with its comparably younger audience. According to Nielsen’s 2013 Year in Sports Media Report, five of the top ten most-tweeted about sports events were NBA games.

Professional sports teams can augment their own social media presence by taking in-game data and delivering it directly to their fans. Beyond real-time stats, teams should consider the power of video: sharing off-court training, on-court replays, jump shot tips, pre-game and post-game interviews, community involvement, etc. on Twitter is a surefire way to entertain their audience.

Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are also powerful platforms for fueling fan interaction with candid, behind-the-scenes videos and photos. Besides hearing from their idols directly, teams could offer incentives such as free tickets, seat upgrades, locker-room access, and fan apparel as a way to drive engagement and brand awareness.

An All-in Bet on Wearable Technology          

Wearable technology has a bright and lucrative future in the sports industry.

Read More