Amazon Cloudfront vs the Pure-play CDN


Amazon Cloudfront has come a long way in the CDN business over the last 5-6 years. Remembering back in 2009 when Cloudfront first entered the stage, there was a lot fear in the hearts and minds of the competition including myself. Amazon had the muscle, and resources to create chaos in the CDN ecosystem. The driver of that fear in the minds of the competition was the unknown, not knowing who, or what sort of CDN Cloudfront would become.

Back then everyone feared Cloudfront in one way or another, including Akamai, EdgeCast and Limelight. The analyst community covering the industry made it worse by implying that Cloudfront was going to hurt Akamai real bad in their balance sheet. Well, fast forward to 2014, and the bogey man is out of the bag, and CloudFront is not that scary after all. He is just a nice chap like everyone else in the CDN industry trying to make a living.

Amazon Creates Havoc in the Tech Industry

Amazon AWS is amazing story. It’s fair to say that Amazon has caused more disruption to the entire technology industry and its players within, than any other company in the history of technology. Microsoft disrupted IBM, but Amazon disrupted hundreds of companies in storage, servers/compute, virtualization and the hosting industry. Some of the bigger names whose business models were shaken include EMC, Oracle, IBM, HP, Dell, and Rackspace.

However, there is one industry that Amazon failed to impact, and that is the Content Delivery Network Industry. Cloudfront did cause rapid pricing deterioration in CDN Origin Storage prices, and basic content delivery, but that was going to happen anyways with or without Amazon. The CDN industry proved it resiliency in that it’s really hard for any newcomer to disrupt the already highly competitive, and innovative driven CDN ecosystem.

Currently, it seems that the market can only sustain three large scale CDNs: Akamai, EdgeCast and Limelight. All three have deep scars from years of battling each other on price, feature sets, and solution selling. It’s no coincidence that the big three CDNs happen to be pure-play CDNs. The CDN business requires extreme focus and dedication. If many pure-play CDNs are being challenged running their businesses weekly, how much more difficult will it be for a non-pure-play CDN.

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