The Era of CDN Specialization

Is the industry witnessing a new CDN era in which specialization is becoming the norm? It seems like the era of CDN specialization is upon us. We have the Big Three CDNs (Akamai, EdgeCast & Limelight), and the CDN specialist. Gone are the days when up-and-coming CDNs would enter the market, and offer everything to everyone. EdgeCast was the last of its kind to go from small player into large scale player. It was easier to do it back then, than it is now.  For the startup CDN, the optimal strategy is to be the best in one or two specialties, than expand from there. Going head-to-head with Akamai or EdgeCast right out of the gate without any sort of specialization is a recipe for disaster.

 The Era of CDN Specialization
  • Instart Logic: Web Application Streaming
  • Yottaa: User engagement targeting CMO’s
  • Incapsula: Security
  • CloudFlare: Security
  • Aryaka: WAN as-a-service
  • Fastly: Performance
  • Level 3: Large scale streaming

A few years ago, CDNs only offered basic caching services, streaming and origin storage. It was easy for the startup CDN to enter the market and compete head-to-head with Akamai or Limelight, in every account, and across different verticals. Today is much different. The CDN feature set is 3x more numerous than in the past, and it only keeps growing over time. Startup CDNs don’t have the luxury to create every feature under the sun, be good at every one, than use that feature set to compete with Akamai or EdgeCast.

There are many different specialties available to the startup CDN: wireless last mile, security, WAN as-a-service, fast browser rendering-time to paint, and many more. I don’t count video streaming as a differentiating feature, since all CDNs support the same streaming elements such as HLS, HDS, and so on. Of all the features available to a CDN, security is a favorite, since it opens the doors to the execs working in Infosec division.