Recently, I had conversation with the Mirror Image executive team, and we discussed the CDN state of the union, starting from the feature set, to the vision, value proposition and key differentiators. To be honest, I dismissed Mirror Image as a CDN many years ago, so I was pleasantly surprised by the end of our conversation. All I have to say is that Mirror Image is finally back in the game. Although Mirror Image has been around longer than Limelight Networks, it’s different company today, that re-built itself into a more nimble, and specialized CDN focusing on the online advertising and digital media vertical. The timing for the change is ideal, as it goes to show that even old guard companies can re-invent themselves, which is extremely difficult to do in the CDN industry.
The New Mirror Image
Mirror Image has morphed into a hyrbrid CDN, not only offering the traditional caching and streaming services, but also an entirely new offering built from the ground up, that addresses the needs of the advertising industry. And when I say the online advertising industry, I don’t only mean ad networks, although Mirror Image works with them, but also the Tier 1 advertising agencies like BBDO, Ogilvy, Publicis, Widen+Kennedy, and the in-house marketing divisions of the Fortune 1000. The new Mirror Image offering leverages CDN infrastructure, but adds another service which I call CDN Edge Compute-as-a-service (ECAAS). This is not the typical application logic at the edge being offered by a few CDNs, but its application logic combined with database-as-a-service that acts like a data warehouse at the edge, running on the high performance no-SQL Couchbase database. The service enables Mirror Image to process data at the edge, in a variety of ways, that is only limited by the imagination when it comes to dealing with mobile devices, browsers, cookies, data sets, data collection and geo-related services.
CDN Edge Compute-as-a-Service
The Mirror Image CDN Edge Compute-as-a-service runs on a centralized architecture, as opposed to a distributed architecture, where the databases running at the different edge locations are replicated and synced in perfect harmony, so data is cleansed and actionable. One of the biggest issues working with databases at scale, and in different locations is keeping the data synced. If data is not synced properly across locations, the result is bad data that leads to bad decisions. However, Mirror Image has eliminated the issues, and offers a new type of service unlike anything we have seen in the CDN industry. The closest competitor to Mirror Image is Amazon AWS. However, AWS offers its cloud compute services at the core of its infrastructure, limited to a number of data centers, whereas, Mirror Image offers its CDN ECAAS at all edge locations.
Mirror Image uses a rules based framework that enables customers to build highly customized applications at the edge, in essence becoming a part of the customers application infrastructure. The CDN ECAAS sits close to the end user reducing latency and improving performance. The CDN ECAAS is not only able to deliver unique content to each mobile user and browser, but the end user metrics are captured in real time, processed, and fed into the data warehouse located at the corporate site of the advertising agency. The cool technology enables advertising agencies to make decisions in real time, especially during the roll out of new promotions, being able to track the progress of the campaign as its is received in the public, and measuring its effectiveness. For CMO’s, this is a dream come true, actionable intelligence at the fingertips.
Although Mirror Image could have taken a broad target market approach going after many different industries and verticals, they made a brilliant decision to focus on the advertising and digital media industry. The general online advertising industry is growing like gangbusters, taking away dollar share from the traditional TV medium. Best of all, Mirror Image speaks the language of the advertising industry, having hired staff with deep expertise in that vertical. All this means is that if Mirror Image is in a competitive situation with another CDN bidding on the business of an advertising agency, my chips are on Mirror Image winning the business because they talk the talk of that industry, and offer Edge Compute-as-a-service along with traditional CDN services. Mirror Image created this offering two years ago, so it’s only a matter of time before they hit their stride and skyrocket to success.