Cache Me If You Can

by Adam Gervin

(spoiler alert: you can’t)

Breaking the Internet. It’s as old as the Internet itself. The first culprit: web pages. Cacheable content. The band aid: CDN. It worked well, and it wasn’t done. The next major culprit: video of the Netflix variety. Same cacheable content, bigger scale. CDN and done, again.

It’s happening once more. Today, it’s all about real-time. And CDN won’t be coming to the rescue. We are talking live, interactive video. Major applications like interactive eSports (Twitch and Mixer), or collaboration (Zoom and FaceTime). You can’t cache me now, because time machines aren’t real like hoverboards.

Network issues — jitter and latency variation in particular — can really wreck the user experience. CDNs can’t solve this problem.

Only a better network can.  And there are essentially only two ways of delivering this.

Use the Best of Today

The typical solution is to use private transport, at least selectively. This has a few unwanted consequences. First, it’s expensive. Either it erodes profitability (for business applications), or it can’t sustain the business model at all (consumer applications). It usually forces the application provider to run their own network. All new CapEx and OpEx. Let’s slow down those global plans, the network needs to catch up. It’s the pain of being what you're not: having to support a major service that isn’t your primary business.

You can ameliorate most of the “run your own network” issues by choosing among a variety of “managed core networks” that are the latest rage. These solutions reduce the management headache, but use traditional or quasi-traditional networks - both private and public varieties. Private transport still costs. And Internet — even in “optimized” forms that use private PoP networks for “dynamic path selection” — fall far short performance-wise.

Win the Future with Fabric

The real solution is quite simple, at least in theory: take the highest-performing networks in the world - private fiber among them - and somehow make them affordable, without sacrificing performance. Come to think of it, why not improve performance while you’re at it. We’re dreaming here, so why not, right?

Pinch yourself. It’s not a dream. Turns out, Tier 1 service providers typically run a LOT of different networks, all using different protocols. Collectively they constitute their “global core.” But the protocols, capacities, and performance profiles of these networks are typically different, and support different classes of customers. These networks are discrete, disconnected. Most of them use traditional hardware-based heuristic routers or inflexible protocols like MPLS to move traffic (the former is known to be very inefficient).


Routing doesn’t have to be inefficient or inflexible. Packet routing is a solved problem, thanks to Mode HALO. We build software routers using commodity service provider bare metal hardware (Mode Autonomous Routers). Each router computes the mathematically optimal routing solution every 150ms. Together these routers form a distributed control system — Mode Autonomous Fabric — that increases service provider physical network efficiency, and allows us to virtually unify these networks into a single pool of capacity, with guaranteed QoS and SLAs. Perfect for demanding applications like interactive video streaming. We’ve used this combination of Fabric and service provider underlays to create Mode SD-CORE, the ultimate private core NaaS for SaaS providers (and enterprises, too).

The combination of increased physical network efficiency and pooling service provider discrete hetero-protocol networks, delivers private link performance beyond anything available today - at the price of Internet transit.

asp_qoe_shift_desktop3Mode SD-CORE offers the performance needed for business collaboration and video:

  • No packet loss
  • Under 5ms of jitter or latency variation anywhere in the world (including China)
  • Curve jump in efficiency transforms private network pricing 

Making consumer applications like eSports work perfectly from anywhere on any device. All this is only possible because the network’s built with Mode Autonomous Fabric.

Mode SD-CORE also enables Interactive Video customers to dramatically reduce application server footprint, and optimize placement of the remaining workloads anywhere in the world. 

Mode Autonomous Fabric is changing your future, one service provider network at a time. And people are noticing: Fierce Telecom, November 2019, named Mode a Top 12 Telecom Disrupter.

Want to know more? Download our Mode for Interactive Video Infographic to learn how Mode SD-CORE is already changing the future of interactive video. You can’t cache progress :)

And, we've got bonus content! Did you know that our own Nithin Michael is on Quora?
Check out the questions he's answered or ask one of your own.