Latest List Of Vendors In The Content Delivery Ecosystem

It’s been eight months since I last updated my list of vendors in the CDN ecosystem and since then, some changes have taken place. Below is my most up to date list, with many new companies like Aryaka, Comcast, Hibernia Networks, MileWEB, MaxCDN and others having been added. (You can easily find this list at anytime by going to www.cdnlist.com)

The term CDN means many things to different people and today, is an umbrella term that covers a lot of different types of content delivery services. Video streaming, software downloads, web and mobile content acceleration, licensed/managed CDN, transparent caching, FEO, and services to measure CDN performance, load balancing and analytics and cloud intelligence. It’s a complex ecosystem with a lot of vendors both large and small. You also have some CDNs that cross over into other industries like security and WAN optimization, two segments that for the most part, are not included in my list.

This list only includes commercial services in the market and does not include companies who have their own CDNs, like Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitch, Facebook etc. If you think your company should be added to any of these lists, see the bottom of the post for instructions.

Vendors In The CDN Ecosystem

We hear a lot about telcos and carriers in the CDN market, but the vast majority of them have built out CDNs for their own internal use and are not selling it as a commercial CDN service. So it’s not accurate to say that they all compete with traditional service based CDNs. There are a few exceptions like Level 3, Verizon (EdgeCast), Comcast and Tata who offer commercial CDN services and compete against other commercial CDNs, but most telco and carrier based commercial CDN services are based off of reselling a traditional CDN, for example AT&T reselling Akamai. This telco/carrier list is far from being complete and many more still need to be added.

Telco/Carrier Based CDN Deployments

In addition to the current crop of vendors in the market, I think it’s important to remember how the CDN industry got to where it is today. Many CDNs raised tons of money but didn’t have a business model, some only focused on selling at the lowest price and many had technology that simply didn’t work. Lots on CDNs went under, some within a short time of launching. The CDN market has been through a lot of hard times over the past 19 years and here’s a running list of those who got acquired or went under.

CDN Related Vendor Acquisitions/Closures

Each time I make a list of vendors, for any solution or service in the market, I always get emails from companies asking why they are not on the list. If you think you should be added to the list, please add it to the comments section but note that I am not listing regional hosting providers or companies who get most of their sales from $100 a month customers. Also, just because you are not on this list doesn’t mean you don’t have a valid solution in the market, but the companies listed are the ones I get asked about most often, get mentioned in the media, are included in major RFPs and promote and market their services to medium and large customers.

Limelight’s Network Outage Shows The Importance Of Third-Party Performance Benchmarks

About two weeks ago, on Thursday July 17th, Limelight Networks suffered a major outage of their network that for some, measured 76 minutes of downtime. I got multiple calls from customers about the outage and Cedexis, a company that provides performance measurements from the standpoint of end users around the world, discussed the details of the outage on their blog. While they didn’t name the CDN, it was Limelight Networks, and the outage was so widespread that Cedexis said, “Little to no traffic was being passed at this time from this CDN. If this were a storm in the Atlantic it would get a name.” For a breakdown on the outage, visit the Cedexis blog post.

It’s a shame that Limelight had such a major outage, considering they are once again trying to get customers to think of them when it comes to being a reliable CDN with good performance. However the bigger point is not that CDNs have downtime but rather that when it comes to customers measuring performance amongst CDNs, it is crucial that they use a third-party service that takes real user measurements (RUM). On the day of the outage, Cedexis collected more than 2 billion measurements across 40,000 networks and 100 cloud and CDN providers worldwide. This type of measurement data is crucial for content owners, especially the large ones, who use a multi-CDN strategy and want to load balance amongst CDNs based on real performance data, from actual end users.

Cedexis has a platform that many content owners now use, called Cedexis Openmix, that allows them to improve the availability, latency and throughput of their content, website and mobile apps. It allows them to dynamically ingest this real user measurement data as a way to allow content owners to load balance across multiple CDNs and avoid outages. In addition to content owners, all of the CDNs now use Cedexis to compare their performance against their competitors and some even use Cedexis performance data in their service level agreements (SLA) with customers. While Cedexis may not be known by many outside of the infrastructure market, the company is quickly becoming part of the fabric of the CDN ecosystem and I would argue, the most important piece. If you can’t measure your performance, for any service, then you don’t really know what you are paying for and what you are getting in return.

More and more customers I talk to, especially the larger ones that CDNs would define as enterprise, are now using Cedexis. Founded in 2009 by two Akamai veterans, Cedexis is really starting to gain traction in the market and while they aren’t as big as Gomez, Catchpoint or Keynote, they are much more focused and have much better insight into what’s really taking place on the Internet. Gomez, Catchpoint and Keynote aren’t inside the last mile networks, don’t have buy in from cloud, backbone and infrastructure providers and take only a small number of real user measurements per day. They can’t truly compare network performance amongst CDN and cloud providers and Cedexis providers far superior data and analytics to what others offer.

If I had to make a list of the top five hottest companies right now, Cedexis would be at the top of the list. Not only because of what they are doing, and how important it is to the market, but also because they share so much of the data – for free. You can look at the results of a few of their measurements taken over the last 24 hour period here and more data is available within their free benchmarking community, which you can sign up for on this page. It’s only a matter of time before someone in the market acquires them and makes their data and methodology part of a larger platform of web performance monitoring.

Cedexis did a recent presentation at the Content Delivery Summit in May and has a really good slide deck you can download, with lots of details on how they measure, what they measure and their methodology. You can also see a video of that presentation below.


ChinaNetCenter Enters The Mobile Web Acceleration Market

As the market for web acceleration services continues to grow, driven primarily by mobile usage, ChinaNetCenter has thrown their hat into the ring with a new mobile application acceleration solution. The company, which has more than 500 POPs in China and more than two dozen POPs outside of China, is using an adaptive policy based solution. It integrates their mobile application acceleration SDK, what they call mSDK, with an intelligent context aware technology designed to get information from the mobile end, such as the brand, OS version, network type and app’s quality of service.

The company says it’s very easy to integrate their mSDK to iOS and Android and that it takes one developer less than 30 min to integrate it into their native app with less than four lines of code. Because all of their CDN cache servers have what they call an mSmart component that communicates with the mSDK, it allows them to optimize every TCP/UDP connection. Their platform also decides the priority of the content being delivered, ensures that the highest priority content is transmitted first, and selectively queues content in the system buffer.

The company said they found that regular connection optimization methods in the industry like TCP/Http Keep Alive and Google SPDY contributes very little improvement, because they have the side effect of involving more competition for the limited available bandwidth. So ChinaNetCenter uses a proprietary intelligent adaptive protocol to control the connection that decides the adaptive policy for transmission and content and optimization parameters based on environment information gathered by the mSDK.

By the end of 2013, China had over 618 million Internet users, 80 percent of which access the Web via their smartphones. At the same time, a huge amount of startups are bringing mobile apps on the market and traditional enterprises are also working to migrate existing application to the mobile platform. In early 2013, one of the biggest online map application companies came to ChinaNetCenter for help to improve their mobile end-user performance. The customer complained that while they were already using a CDN, when they looked at the performance numbers, it simply wasn’t effective for mobile clients. They were considering disabling mobile viewing all together as they didn’t want to provide a bad user experience.

This is something I hear often from content owners, that traditional CDNs aren’t providing a true platform for mobile content acceleration. While some CDNs like Akamai have been in the mobile acceleration market for a while, and smaller CDNs like EdgeCast and Fastly are also focusing on this segment, most CDNs don’t really address the performance issues around delivering content to mobile. It’s one of the reasons why new startups like Instart Logic have emerged in the industry, specifically to focus on improving the performance of content delivered across mobile devices.

ChinaNetCenter said their customer’s install base of 100M users for their online map application app saw an average performance gain of over 40%, and in some low speed wireless network environments, the performance gain was as high as 100%. Earlier this year, the biggest online reading application in China also started using ChinaNetCenter’s mobile application acceleration platform and saw their app’s utilization ratio increase by 20%. Another customer, a local airline in the country, saw their order rate conversion increase by 10% through their app’s performance improvement.

For web browsing, mobile content consumption is the future and multiple vendors are now focusing on acceleration technologies to address the specific issues caused by wireless networks, which tend to have high latency and a large percentage of packet loss. With their new solution in the market, we can now count ChinaNetCenter as yet another vendor who has recently entered the mobile application acceleration market, with more to come.

ChinaNetCenter is the leading CDN provider in China with revenue of $197M in 2013. Backed by ChinaNetCenter, MileWEB was established in 2012 as the international development partner tasked with globalizing their next generation CDN services and solutions.

Aereo Had 77,596 Customers At End Of 2013: Didn’t Understand The Market

Documents filed by Aereo with the U.S. Copyright Office have finally disclosed how many subscribers they had for their streaming service and the numbers show, it simply wasn’t a service that many consumers wanted. At the end of 2013, Aereo had only 77,596 total customers. About 27,000 of those were in the NYC area, 12,000 were from Boston and 10,000 from Atlanta. For all the talk by those in the industry and members of the media of how “innovative” or “disruptive” Aereo was, the reality is that the only number that matters for a subscription business is how many customers it has. That’s it. That number determines revenue, P&L and whether or not the company survives with their offering in the market. [See: Barry Diller’s OTT Service Aereo Is Dead On Arrival]

Aereo failed because they didn’t understand the market they were in and set expectations with themselves, that were completely unrealistic. They argued that the cable companies model of bundling channels was bad, yet Aereo themselves bundled all their channels into one monthly fee as well. For all the talk by Aereo of a la carte, Aereo didn’t allow you to pay only for the channels you wanted. You had to pay a monthly fee to get channels broadcast in foreign languages, even if you couldn’t watch them. In reality, Aereo was just like the cable TV model, but with less choice, poorer video quality, less device support and fewer options overall.

The CEO of Aereo said they could sign up 350,000 subscribers in the major cities, yet the company ran out of capacity and had technical issues in NYC, when they had less than 7% of that number of customers. When management and Barry Diller are out in the public saying that between 25M-30M people wanted their service, it shows just how out of touch they were with the market. Consumers want choice, they want subscription services with a deep catalog of content to choose from. They want high-quality video, with support on all devices. Aereo didn’t have any of these with limited device support, small number of channels and streaming video quality that was on average, a third of what services like MLB.TV offer today.

Aereo raised $100M, yet couldn’t even scale the business to 100,000 subs. At 100,000 subs, that would be less than one tenth, of one percent, of the cable TV subscription market. Aereo didn’t fail because of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Aereo failed from day one because it was selling a service in the market that not enough consumers wanted. Aereo should be a lesson to others that just because technology allows you to bring a service to the market that does not mean the service is something consumers want, or are willing to pay for. If there is no tangible business model behind the technology you bring to the market, then how the service works does not matter. Aereo put technology before business, and that always leads to failure, when it comes to consumer services.

Speakers Wanted: Content Management; OTT & TV Everywhere; Video Monetization; Formats, Protocols & Standards

1280x427xHyatt-Regency-Huntington-Beach-Resort-and-Spa-Hotel-Exterior-Dusk.jpg.pagespeed.ic.LX9aXziG-nI’m currently working on the advance program for the next Streaming Media West show, taking place November 18-19 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in CA. The call for speakers and presenters is still open, and right now, here are some of the themes, topics and verticals that I am programming content for:

  • Encoding & Transcoding
  • Content Management & Branding
  • OTT and TV Everywhere
  • Monetizing Content Across Multiplatforms
  • Media, Entertainment & Broadcast
  • Formats, Protocols & Standards
  • Live Webcasting
  • Enterprise & Education

I’m open to all ideas and suggestions right now, from content owners AND vendors. I’ll be placing speakers much earlier this year, so NOW is the time to reach out to me. I’m still looking for additional moderators, (vendors ok) who know how to organize a good panel and conversation and drill down into real details.

I will be confirming speaking spots much earlier this year and companies that take weeks or months to decide what they want to do will lose out. So if you are interested in speaking on a round table panel, doing a technical how-to presentation, have a good case study or want to be involved in some other way, please email/call me right away. (917-523-4562/email) I will be publishing the advance program by the end of this month, so time is running out to get your ideas in.