Surprise, Justin.TV Builds Own CDN To Cut Costs, Improve Performance

justintvlogo.pngWhile Justin.TV’s live video site first broke on the scene with its fair share of scandal and gimmicks, not too many people realized they were doing anything more than programming a website to broadcast video from off the shelf web cams. However, Justin.TV has actually been developing some actual technology, too. Since the start they’ve been building their own content distribution network (CDN) to stream video to all the site’s viewers. And according to them, it just happens to be saving them a bundle of cash.

When they first launched, they considered existing using existing CDNs to run their network. Rates from one large CDN cost as much as $0.36 for every hour of video run. Justin.TV developed a system that does it for 3/4 of a penny. Their most recent iteration of the network does it for 1/4 of a penny. All those pennies add up, especially for a startup that broadcasts 24 hours a day.

But saving money by building your own network is not for everyone. Their current system has been over a year in the making and fairly elaborate. It consists of a load balancing system that can start streaming content over their own network of servers and push peak traffic to Amazon’s S3 and EC2 services. It’s taken so long because they’ve essentially had to pick apart and rebuild a flash server from the ground up to make this possible without using Adobe’s software.

And they expect all this hard work to pay off. Having control over the entire pipeline means they can add on new features, such as more easily archiving recorded videos or trans-coding them into other formats. No word on whether they’ll be lending the CND out to third parties any time soon, though.