Although the chances of Akamai acquiring Limelight Networks are slim, what is the impact if it happens? The impact would be huge, re-arranging the layer at the top of pyramid for the largest CDNs. Currently, Akamai, Limelight and EdgeCast are the only CDNs in that top layer of the CDN Ecosystem, having extensive features sets for live streaming, dynamic content acceleration, mobile acceleration, software downloads, and so on. Many argue that Level 3 should be included in that top layer, however, I beg to differ, in that Level 3 is a CDN Specialist, excelling in live streaming, and large scale VOD delivery. Level 3 doesn’t have FEO, DSA, Prolexic-like DDoS Scrubbing Platform, Web Application Streaming (time-to-first-paint), and so on.
If Akamai acquires Limelight, that leaves Akamai and EdgeCast in that top layer of large scale CDNs. EdgeCast has a couple of dozen features under the roof, enabling them to compete more effectively with Akamai in various accounts, whether its streaming, ecommerce, software downloads, etc. All EdgeCast needs today are the web application firewall and productized DDoS Protection Service Platform. I’m sure that EdgeCast is working on those two features as we speak. Once EdgeCast introduces those services to the market, and signs up a ton of customers, they are going to level the playing field with Akamai, or at least get close. What does that mean to the rest of the CDN Ecosystem? Not much, the CDN startup ecosystem will continue to thrive. More than anything, the startups will most likely see a huge influx of Limelight’s business, as many enterprises use a multi-CDN strategy. For Akamai, the acquisition will help build more scale, increase its customer based, add $150M+ in annual revenue, and provide up-selling opportunities to Limelight’s customer base.