Throughput defined: in communication networks, such as Ethernet or packet radio, throughput or network throughput is the rate of successful message delivery over a communication channel.

To simplify, throughput is how strong or consistent the connection is maintained during the session. Consider water pipes in your home. Throughput would be determined by how strong and steady the water flows as long as you have the faucet turned on.

As we consider throughput to content that you will deliver to customers, for example video and games, throughput affects if that video plays smoothly and at a high bitrate, or whether that game takes 40 minutes to download or three hours. This is an important factor to look at when choosing a CDN.

For games…

One of the greatest events in gamer culture is a big blockbuster midnight launch. Whether it’s for a console, a holiday sale or a AAA title there’s nothing quite like standing in a line full of like-minded people discussing your shared passion.

I fondly remember queuing up at the Union Square GameStop in New York to buy the Nintendo 3DS at the global release event in 2011. All of us standing around for hours playing local multiplayer on our soon-to-be replaced DS machines, talking about what launch games we were going to buy and generally getting each other excited about finally getting our hands on the hardware.

As my kids have gotten older, though, I’ve had less time to be able to attend launches in person and I’ve grown to really appreciate the availability of digital delivery. Pulling down Titanfall to play from the comfort of my couch while my family slept mitigated the loss of not being able to attend a launch party.

What I didn’t want, downloading from home, was a wait comparable to the one outside that GameStop. The thing about launch lines is that they’re FUN and there’s nothing fun about sitting by yourself watching progress bars fill on your game system.

That’s why the critical factor for digital delivery is the speed at which you can put your game, complete and playable, in the hands of your players. As a CDN, we measure that capability in throughput or the number of bits deliverable in a given timeframe.

Highwinds GDN

Let’s compare two players (by examining the animated .GIF file images on the right) downloading the same game on identical connections. Player 1 is downloading from our high-throughput GDN (Game Delivery Network™) and Player 2 from some other game delivery method (SOG) with a lower throughput.

The game will be downloaded and enjoyed by Player 1 long before Player 2.

In short: throughput is the metric that measures players’ ability to get in and get gaming.

For media…

The diversity and capabilities of connected media playback devices have exploded over the past few years, leading to an unprecedented era of consumer access to high value content. One of the drivers behind this expansion has been the intelligence to stream the best quality media given the limitations of the access method. That means that a user consuming video on an older phone in an area with poor connectivity is still often able to have an adequate experience, which is a real technological marvel.

For the user, though, it’s just going to seem like a grainy, stuttering video. That’s why content owners do everything they can to give a great experience rather than a merely acceptable one. To deliver HD content without buffering and downgrading you need to make sure that your source is well connected and maximizes resolution and bitrate to the end user, and that translates to throughput as a CDN metric.

If you have a high throughput connection delivered from Highwinds CDN, you can count on the best possible picture quality for your end user, even when they’re watching popular content during prime time on a consumer ISP. When you don’t have that superior level of service, your consumer could be stuck with halting, buffering or image degradation from bitrate down shifting.

For advertising…

According to Business Insider, “Video ad revenue will increase at a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% through 2016,” faster than any other medium other than mobile. Not only is video inventory growing due to the boom in available digital media, but premium video continues to command CPMs that are many multiples of display advertising – as high as $32.80 per Zenith Optimedia.

As a huge and growing segment of total spend, video is something few advertisers can afford to ignore, and the metric on most of their minds these days is “viewability“. If your ads aren’t seen by end users you’re not really building value for your brands. To make sure that your ads are in front of your audience and minimize bounce rates on critical traffic you want the fastest available load times and in video that is a function of — you guessed it — throughput!

Highwinds’ high throughput delivery will ensure that you can get your ad creatives in front of actual, viewing users at a level of quality that matches your publishing partners’ premium video experience.

Measuring throughput…

So hopefully you’re convinced that throughput is the metric that matters for you and your content, but that leaves you with the question of how to make sure that your CDN has the best throughput. The old standby measurement companies, those that you would look at to gauge speed and availability, tend to be located in data centers close to the most robust central connections of the internet rather than at the endpoints of the consumer ISPs where your users are.

CDN Throughput

To know what kind of throughput your users are getting you need a real user metric measured on the client side like those provided by Cedexis (see chart above) or to develop your own client side methodology. Once you’ve measured throughput in an actual production environment, you’ll see why Highwinds legitimately is the fastest CDN on the planet.

We would love to get you started on your free trial of either the Highwinds CDN or our GDN today so you can see and test the results for yourself.

Bradley Andrews

By Bradley Andrews, Product Director