iTunes

High-performance content contribution

Apple's ubiquitous online store standardizes high-speed video uploads with Aspera transport

 

Apple's iTunes Music Store has pioneered online music and video content services, and with over 35 million videos sold, is the world's most popular online video store. Television programming from over 40 networks is available for download and purchase, and refreshed continuously with new episodic, sport, and news content.

Video Content Upload Challenge

Apple's preferred method for receiving video content from providers is through online upload to the company's servers. As the demands to receive more video file content grew, the traditional secure file transfer solution in place was unable to meet the required delivery times. A typical file set was several gigabytes of data, yet transfers with secure ftp would take many hours, or days if failures were involved, and would use only a fraction of the provider's bandwidth in many cases. In addition, as more providers were added, meeting the necessary delivery window required hundreds of megabits of aggregate file transfer throughput.

Aspera Solution

Upon the recommendation of a content provider, Apple deployed Aspera server software as an alternative high-speed transfer option in early 2006. Since that time, most networks providing video content have also deployed Aspera software as their standard mechanism to upload to Apple. The providers use a mixture of Aspera Point-to-Point, Aspera Enterprise Server, and Aspera Client software, integrated with Apple's standard utility to send content to Apple on a periodic, and in some cases, daily basis. One network reported that the time to transfer 2GB of content cross-country to Apple reduced from 3.5 hours to less than 10 minutes, and reduced to under 5 minutes when allowed to run at full bandwidth capacity. Similarly, networks that provide time-critical sports coverage are able to send an entire week or tournament of games in one evening.

In addition to the dramatic speed improvements, the content providers take advantage of Aspera's transfer rate control to ensure that the transfers do not negatively impact shared corporate network connections. Providers use a target rate cap to precisely set the maximum target rate, and many use adaptive rate control with a minimum rate guarantee to automatically adapt the transfer speed to the available bandwidth but not less than the minimum rate, for a guarantee on the latest finish time. The success of the Aspera transfer solution has led several content providers to expand their use of the Aspera software in their internal operations, and has led several other emerging content provider/aggregator partnerships to build in the Aspera transfer capability as a standard for high-speed delivery.

 

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One network reported that the time to transfer 2GB of content cross-country to Apple reduced from 3.5 hours to... under 5 minutes when allowed to run at full bandwidth capacity.