How Codavel, a CDN built specifically for mobile apps, is making breakthroughs in the global market

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Faster applications lead to more active users and longer sessions. Faster apps also translate into higher conversion and retention, among other key business KPIs.

A mobile app that is looking to improve its performance and become faster will typically reduce and optimise image sizes that serve the app, optimise the app code, and reduce rendering time, among other steps to ensure that app in itself is not the bottleneck. More often than not, the data is served through a CDN where it gets cached from edge servers close to the end-users. However, Diogo Ferreira, CTO and Co-founder, Codavel- a wireless connectivity enhancing solutions provider - points out that studies indicate that 90 percent of the problem lies in the wireless link. Network instability, especially wireless instability, impacts the mobile app’s user experience in the form of video buffering, longer to get the photos or product images, ultimately leading to user frustration.

Revolutionising CDN strategy

Here, we have Diogo explaining the uniqueness of Codavel’s solution, and why it is essential in today’s scenario. “Most current solutions are still based on a 30-year-old protocol. HTTP/TCP are not suited for wireless links. Standard CDNs bring limited improvements, given the wireless last mile instability", attributes Diogo. Even the third and upcoming major version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol used to exchange information on the World Wide Web, QUIC / HTTP3 falls short for mobile apps, he adds. This is where Codavel’s solution stands out.

Codavel, a CDN built specifically for mobile apps, helps app owners provide a fast and uninterrupted content delivery experience to every user, no matter what the user network, device or location. Founded in 2018 by three network coding researchers, Rui Costa, Diogo Ferreira and Paulo Oliveira, the startup addresses a pertinent problem of network instability from the user’s end for social networks, video streaming companies, and e-commerce mobile applications.

“We have developed a completely new mobile-first protocol based on network coding to fight network instability from the user side, optimise content delivery end-to-end, and build a mobile-first CDN that uses our unique protocol. Our protocol handles the worst network conditions, ensuring robustness against latency and packet loss, regardless of the user’s network, device, location, or time,” Diogo explains.

Built for reliable and efficient content delivery

Codavel is an end-to-end network control protocol that is designed for wireless communication. The protocol is deployed on top of native user datagram protocol (UDP) sockets, and is also capable of detecting if UDP is blocked on the users’ network, or if UDP links are throttled down by the network operator. The benefit that the protocol brings is its capability to overcome the issues present with wireless networks from the user side.

With Codavel's solution, app services can expect between 30 to 70 percent faster data transfers, enabling the improvement of their business KPIs, says the CTO. For instance, Codavel streaming solution delivers a perfect video streaming experience. Users get near-instant video startups with no interruptions, and consistently high-quality video, no matter the user's network. Users get 30 percent faster video startup and more than 50 percent less buffering, always at the highest available quality. Codavel’s media delivery solution can deliver up to 76 percent more videos and pictures per second on your user’s feed, without compromising quality or reliability. Codavel sits on top of any current market solution and fits into any multi-CDN strategy, to help content arrive safe and sound, to be enjoyed without interruptions, and with top quality, no matter the user's network.

The Portuguese startup has seen significant uptake, especially in the last few months. “By the end of 2022, we want to transfer more than 5PB of traffic monthly through our servers,” Diogo says.

How Codavel relies on DigitalOcean's cloud solutions

Thus, it can be deciphered that Codavel's unique proposition is its groundbreaking protocol, and this protocol is being deployed via a new CDN offering. Here, Diogo points out that the cloud was the most obvious, fastest, and cost efficient way to build their service from scratch. “Without the cloud, we would have had to invest lots of money, time, and resources to manage distinct data centres around multiple locations. Being a startup, that would have been simply not possible,” he shares.

Codavel's cloud strategy was quite simple. “We needed cloud partners that offered the expected performance, capable of scaling, at multiple locations, with a proper pricing model. And, that’s precisely why we selected DigitalOcean,” he says. “DigitalOcean provides a large set of computing options, with almost infinite scaling capabilities, in diversified locations, which was very important to Codavel, given that we needed to have a robust global presence. And, DigitalOcean offers a very competitive price, especially bandwidth pricing with its flat-rate, independently of regions,” he adds.

For Codavel, the cost advantage has translated into a significant growth driver. Diogo explains, “While other cloud providers charge bandwidth based on the region, DigitalOcean offers a flat bandwidth price. Moreover, its offer is one of the cheapest in the market. In comparison, DigitalOcean’s bandwidth price is 8x lower than one of the industry leading players in the cloud market. This pricing model has enabled Codavel to provide a competitive offer to its customers, thereby a significant uptake in Codavel’s adoption.”

In addition to the cost advantages, onboarding DigitalOcean enabled Codavel to address a number of tech challenges. Codavel's service is built on top of Kubernetes, and the platform leverages Rancher to better orchestrate and scale the clusters. “DigitalOcean infrastructure allowed an immediate and out-of-the-box integration with both Rancher and Kubernetes. This enabled us to quickly create new deployments in a matter of minutes, compared to the couple of hours it used to take outside DigitalOcean without Rancher,” shares Diogo. With the fast deployment time achieved with DigitalOcean, today Codavel’s customers are able to use the platform’s service very quickly, helping Codavel strengthen credibility and trust.

In addition, building the platform on DigitalOcean’s cloud has allowed Codavel to set and forget its infrastructure, enabling them to focus on improving our product and creating new features. “This ability to focus on what matters is especially important for startups in their early years when they are trying to establish themselves in the market. Because your resources and energies are not spent on addressing basic infrastructural challenges, you are able to focus on building the product with greater confidence,” he says.

Diogo says DigitalOcean not only stands out from a price and tech perspective but also from an end-user perspective - the developers. “We believe that DevOps tasks and cloud infrastructure should be transparent and noiseless to developers. And DigitalOcean is precisely that,” he says.

Codavel’s cloud needs are expected to grow more than 50x over the next 12 months and DigitalOcean is expected to play a prominent role in their growth. “We require a cloud partner with vast knowledge and expertise with top-notch global infrastructure. But most importantly, we need a cloud partner with a pricing model that makes sense for us, which is the key to ensuring our growth.

Why Codavel is expected to gain increased relevance

For a Portuguese startup, the conversation is incomplete without the mention of football. “We have a saying in our company which states - ‘we are here to play and win the Champions League. A football fan will easily understand the analogy. To the rest, it means that we are trying to compete with the big and the established companies and enterprises,” says Diogo. He adds that the startup is not just competing by addressing an age-old challenge with a new solution, but also by constantly bringing new and unique technologies into the market.

HTTP/3, also known as QUIC was initially developed by Google and later adapted as a new HTTP standard. This, the CTO says, is an indication of how the market is seeing value in investing in solutions that are working towards addressing issues wrt user experience and looking at new ways to solve them. “That’s where we continue to see the relevance of a solution like Codavel, among others. We see the product delivering value for a long time to come,” he says.

Diogo opines that while the upcoming 5G brings many benefits for the users, it will still fall short in solving the wireless instability challenges present on 3G and 4G networks. “Innovation for us is not stopping in the mobile app industry. Delivering high-quality content via wireless is still a challenge for many sectors, not only for mobile apps, so we plan to expand to other sectors in the future,” he says, signing off.


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