For the last decade, the CDN Edge has been a dummy POP, where it caches content, secures it, and delivers it. Recently, CDNs have been developing more intelligence into their POP architecture, giving customers the ability to “push their application logic to the edge”, where the application processes data. Mirror Image has gone a step further, introducing the CDN Edge Compute-as-a-service, where they have developed, and deployed the NoSQL couchbase database to all of their edge locations, where each POP acts like mini-data warehouse, ingesting data, analyzing it, processing it, in order to provide real time data to customers for real time decision making. Savvy companies well versed in app development, can use the Edge Compute-as-a-service to compliment their existing onsite data warehouse, or decision support system.
Next Evolution: Artificially Intelligent CDN Edge POP
Now lets look 5 to 10 years into the future, how will the innovation driven CDN look? Simple, it will be a CDN architecture centered around the artificially intelligent POP, where each POP is algorithm driven, mimicking human behavior, similar to what some CyberSecurity platforms are doing today, but much more advanced. Today’s CDN architecture is a centralized system where the POPs act as the spokes, and the customer web origin server as the hub, similar to the hub-and-spoke WAN technology of Frame Relay and ATM. Tomorrow’s CDN architecture will be based on a decentralized system, similar to a MPLS fully meshed network.
The CDN will take a snapshot of the customer’s web origin server, and deliver it to the edge. This is what I refer to as customer Web Origin-to-the-edge. Not only will the POP host the customer web origin server, but it will ingest end user data, cache it, analyze it, secure it, process it, and deliver real time intelligence to all parties. There will be no more DSA, ADN or TCP/IP middle mile acceleration technologies. The Web Origin-to-the-edge will make these technologies obsolete. The only distance that the request/response packets need to travel is from the end user to the closet POP. The edge will act as a mini-CDN, making its own decisions, synchronizing updates to the global CDN network. In that time, we’ll be seeing 10+ Terabit SDN Switches, and High Powered Servers with hundreds of cores, and dozens of TBs of RAM.