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Common Streaming Architectures Overview : Peer-to-peer, CDN, Edge computing

Mar 08, 2023

Streaming has revolutionized the way we consume media, from music and movies to live events and gaming. But have you ever wondered how it all works behind the scenes? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common streaming architectures and their technical advantages and limitations.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Streaming

Peer-to-peer (P2P) streaming is a decentralized architecture that relies on a network of users to share content. This means that each user who streams the content also becomes a server, sharing the content with other users who are also streaming. The more users that are streaming, the more servers there are, which can help to improve the overall performance of the network.


  • Lower bandwidth costs : Since P2P streaming offloads much of the video delivery to end-users, it can significantly reduce the bandwidth costs for the content provider.
  • Improved scalability : P2P streaming is highly scalable and can handle large amounts of traffic without putting too much strain on any one server. It’s also cost-effective since there is no need for a central server.
  • Increased resilience : P2P streaming can continue to deliver video content even if some nodes in the network fail or drop out.


  • Lack of control : P2P streaming relies on end-users to deliver the content, which means that content providers have limited control over the distribution and quality of the video.
  • Security risks : P2P streaming can be vulnerable to malicious attacks or unauthorized access, which can compromise the quality and integrity of the video.
  • Technical complexity : P2P streaming requires more technical expertise to set up and maintain than traditional client-server architectures.
  • Hard to achieve sustainability : P2P streaming can be slow to start since it relies on users to share content. It can also be unreliable, as there is no guarantee that users will continue to share the content once they have finished streaming.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN)

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are a popular architecture for delivering live and on-demand video content to viewers worldwide. In this architecture, content is stored on servers distributed across the world, and viewers can access the content from the server that is geographically closest to them.


  • High-quality video: CDNs use sophisticated caching and edge-caching technologies to ensure that viewers receive high-quality video with low latency.
  • Improved reliability: CDNs use redundant servers and multiple data centers to ensure that video content is always available to viewers.
  • Scalability: CDNs can handle large spikes in traffic and support a high number of concurrent viewers.


  • High cost: CDNs can be expensive to set up and maintain, especially for small content providers or individual streamers.
  • Limited control: CDNs provide limited control over the video distribution, which means that content providers have limited ability to customize the delivery of the video.
  • Security risks: CDNs can be vulnerable to security threats, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or data breaches.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is an architecture that brings computing resources closer to the end-users by deploying servers and other hardware at the network edge. In the context of live streaming, edge computing can reduce latency and improve the quality of video delivery by caching video content closer to the end-users.

How it works

In an edge computing architecture, computing resources (such as servers, storage devices, and other hardware) are deployed at or near the network edge, closer to the source of the data. This allows the data to be processed and analyzed in real-time, rather than being sent to a central location for processing. This reduces latency and improves the efficiency of data processing.


  • Reduced Latency: Edge computing reduces the time it takes for data to be processed and analyzed, which can be critical in applications such as autonomous vehicles, real-time video processing, and IoT devices.
  • Bandwidth Usage: By processing data at the edge of the network, edge computing reduces the amount of data that needs to be transmitted to a central server or cloud for processing. This can result in significant savings in bandwidth usage and costs.
  • Security: Edge computing can improve security by processing sensitive data locally, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access.
  • Reliability: By distributing computing resources across multiple nodes in the network, edge computing can provide better fault tolerance and resilience than traditional centralized architectures.


  • Complexity: Edge computing can be complex to implement and maintain, especially for organizations that do not have the necessary expertise or resources.
  • High cost: Edge computing can be more expensive than traditional centralized architectures, especially in terms of hardware and infrastructure costs.
  • Scalability: Edge computing can be challenging to scale, especially in applications that require large amounts of data processing or that need to support a large number of devices.
  • Limited Connectivity: Edge computing requires reliable and low-latency connectivity between nodes in the network, which can be challenging in some environments, such as rural areas or industrial settings.

CDN vs Edge Computing

CDN (Content Delivery Network) and Edge Computing are two related but distinct technologies that are often used together to improve the delivery of online content. 

Here’s a brief overview of the differences between the two:


CDNs are designed to distribute large volumes of static and dynamic content (such as web pages, images, videos, and applications) to a large number of users around the world. The main goal of a CDN is to reduce latency and improve the speed and reliability of content delivery by caching content closer to the end-users. 

Edge computing, on the other hand, is designed to process and analyze data in real-time at the network edge (i.e. closer to the source of the data). The main goal of edge computing is to reduce latency, improve the quality of service, and provide more intelligent and efficient data processing.


CDNs are typically built using a distributed network of servers that are strategically placed in data centers around the world. These servers are responsible for caching and delivering content to end-users. 

Edge computing usually involves deploying computing resources (such as servers, storage devices, and other hardware) closer to the network edge (i.e. closer to the end-users) to improve the speed and efficiency of data processing.

Use Cases

CDNs are commonly used to deliver content such as web pages, images, videos, and applications to a large number of users. They are particularly useful for websites and online services that experience high traffic volumes and need to deliver content quickly and reliably. 

Edge computing is typically used for a variety of real-time applications, such as IoT (Internet of Things) devices, autonomous vehicles, and video processing. It is particularly useful for applications that require low latency and real-time processing, such as virtual and augmented reality.

In summary, while CDNs and edge computing share some similarities, they are designed for different purposes and have different architectures. CDNs are used for content delivery, while edge computing is used for real-time processing and analysis. 

Both technologies can be used together to improve the speed, reliability, and efficiency of content delivery and data processing.