Q&A Session with Cedexis

Back in April at NAB, I had the chance to meet Rob Malnati, the VP of Marketing at Cedexis. For those unfamiliar with Cedexis, they are a leader in cloud-based web traffic optimization solutions. They were founded in 2009 and received $7M in funding. Cedexis was started by Marty Kagan and Julien Coulon, two Akamai veterans. Rob and I discussed the CDN industry in general, some of the trends occurring in the market place, and some of the new players.

It’s always good to get a perspective of the CDN industry from a non-CDN executive, as they bring a fresh outlook into the conversations. After a few months passed, I connected with Pete Mastin, who worked at Internap and is now at Cedexis, and Rob. We decided to do a deep dive session into Cedexis, and they walked me through their products and services. Instead of regurgitating what they said, I thought it would be more helpful to readers in a Q&A format. Thanks to Pete and Rob for their answers.

1. Briefly explain, what is Radar and Open Mix Load Balancing?
Radar is a free community that publicly benchmarks the availability, latency and throughput performance of over 100 CDN and Cloud providers. Radar is free and provides a valuable service to both the service providers and 100s of Enterprises who have joined the community.  Radar does not use “virtual” end users or “synthetic” agents. All our measurements are taken from actual website and mobile application users, using real PCs, laptops and mobiles, to ensure that we capture the real user experience, and the impact of CDNs and ISPs on this performance. This free community approach generates 60+ billion cloud and CDN performance measurements a month, from real website visitors and application users.

The way it works is quite simple.  Customers visiting the enterprise’s site trigger the Radar tag, providing metrics from your customer‘s perspective. When someone visits their site, the browser instantiates the Radar client. The Radar client waits until two seconds after the browser’s onLoad() event and then downloads instructions from Cedexis. These instructions specify which platform to measure next during the session, picked from among the community platforms and any private platforms specific to that community member. This style of measurement is called RUM (Real User Measurements) and Cedexis is the leader in this field.

These metrics can be directly viewed by the enterprise to see how their website (or Mobile app) is performing across over 40K networks (ISP’s and B2B Backbone providers) worldwide.  This is extremely valuable information for companies that are (for instance) branching into emerging markets – or who want to understand the real end user experience of those customers, and how different CDNs measured by the Radar community could serve an enterprises end users BEFORE buying services from the CDNs are you are considering, greatly reducing risk.

Openmix is a GSLB (Global Server Load Balancing) SaaS solution that distributes traffic to either a CDN, a Cloud or even a (public or private) DataCenter.  The unique differentiator is that Openmix uses the Radar community data as the primary element to know how to Route data (in real time). The Radar data is signal processed in under 10 seconds and distributed to over 40 POP’s worldwide on 4 distinct anycast networks, providing improved availability, lower latency and greater traffic control. These 40+ POPs support the DNS based load balancing by providing decisions in realtime on the best performing CDN or Cloud for every specific request.

Not only does Openmix use the RUM data generated by Radar, but it can also input from other sources. Cedexis has pre-integrated to the world’s leading APM (application Performance Monitoring) applications as well as many of the synthetic monitoring systems.  Making 3rd party monitoring data actionable is a powerful tool for automating content and application delivery fail-over and performance or costs based traffic optimizations.

Another factor that differentiates Openmix is that (unlike many of the cloud based GLBs) it is NOT policy based. Rather it is a cloud-based GLB solution that enables our customers to dynamically create custom scripts that incorporate their unique criteria.  Because of this really any factor can be made to weigh on the decisions – costs, performance, server outages through Fusion, etc. We have even had a company use us to create a green meta-cloud by providing information to OpenMix about the “Green-ness” of a set of clouds. When all things were equal with regard to performance the greenest cloud got the traffic.

2. How is Radar different from Gomez, Keynote and Catchpoint?
I covered some of this above – but basically Gomez, Catchpoint and Keynote are (primarily) synthetic monitoring solutions. This means they cannot see the last mile networks for the most part and also they do not have the geographical and network diversity that Cedexis Radar data has. Basically these are useful tools that provide on demand end to end test.  Cedexis however measures 100+ CDN and Cloud platforms as a basic part of our business. That is not what Gomez, Keynote and Catchpoint do.  They do not have the active participation of the CDN’s and Clouds that Cedexis does to measure, and compare performance.

While each of these companies have introduced a RUM type product the lack of participation by the infrastructure companies and the low volume of RUM measurements a day make them inferior products. (Again – Cedexis currently does Billions of measurements a day).

3. How is OpenMix Load Balancing different than the DNS Load Balancing solutions offered by CDNs?
Billions of RUM measurements. Far more flexible with regard to how we can script the decision solution.

4. What kinds of reporting metrics do you offer, and why are they important?
This is a Cedexis specialty.  If you have not had a chance go check out:  http://www.cedexis.com/reports/#?report=isp&country=US

click around and change countries or look at the different tab’s. These are the free reports we have for everyone. The kinds of reports we can get for active users is even better. I recommend we set up a call and I’ll have one of our top SEs walk you through the reports. Its eyeopening.

5. Since Cedexis is integrated with 60+ carriers, CDNs and cloud companies, what are some of the trends you are seeing?

So the actual number is more than 100.  We see many trends. Here are some examples:

1) We see 200+ micro-outages a month across all the providers.  These outages can last from 5-25 minutes and rarely amount to a full outage. They are also not commonly reported on. What they DO result in is dramatically worse performance as re-routing and additional connection attempts are made. These Micro-outages happen as often in North America as the rest of world and are often related to BGP changes that effect routes and DNS changes or small changes. Of course we also see the major outages that get the press.

2) Performance is still very poor in China and other emerging markets and that’s where you have the most reason to deploy a multi-CDN strategy for performance reasons. In the screen shot generated on the Cedexis website (free) you can see that chinanetcenter is dramatically better for HTTP response time than the other providers.  Of course deploying for availability reasons for some of the reasons in (1) is still a smart move.