CDN in 10 Years, End of Cloud Utility Model


What is the CDN going to look like in 10 years? That’s a really tough question to answer, but let’s go Elon Musk, and give it a shot. To start, let’s throw out Moore’s Law, and any other laws relevant to computer science. Next, we’ll draw from history. A decade+ ago, during the first dot com, Sun, Oracle, and Veritas ruled the day. All major dot coms with VC cashola bought these three products to power their infrastructure. The high end cluster of that time, not named Oracle or HP, was the Veritas Cluster Server (VCS). Back then, VCS cost about $10k, and the primary config ran on two Sun servers + Oracle 8.xx RDBMS, in an active-active state, with a heart-beat connection, to monitor for failure at either node. It was extremely limited in every way imaginable.

Fast forward a decade, and we have SSD’s, big data, Google, Facebook, NoSQL, AWS, Hadoop & MapReduce clusters that can run on 4500 commodity servers, and so on. Trying to predict the kind of software that will be available in ten years is an exercise in futility, so let’s start at the rack level, and work backwards from there. Today, a fully packed rack can support 1PB of Isilon storage. In another configuration, a rack can support a dozen TBs of RAM, 300GBs of SSD drive capacity, few hundred cores, and enough throughput capacity to push 400Gbps of data. In 10 years, the disk drive will cede to exist, as well as SSDs. Storage will be comprised of a motherboard, loaded with some advanced chips and transistors. With that being said, let’s build the DevOps dream CDN rack for 2024. This is dream rack:

 The CDN Rack of Year 2024
  • Few big servers in one rack
  • Millions of CPU cores
  • 100PBs of RAM
  • 1 Yottabyte of Storage
  • 1 Ebps (1000 Tbps) of throughput capacity
  • Support for 10M+ VMs and applications
  • Cost: $250k per rack

Demise of Cloud Compute Utility Model

In other words, the CDN rack of 2024 is likely to replace about 100 Google racks+ of computing power. Technology infrastructure is likely to go from software running thousands of commodity servers, to running on a dozen of high powered commodity servers that fit neatly into one rack. With that being said, one CDN POP with multiple racks is going to pack more power than all of infrastructure in the entire AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure infrastructure today. “Told you I was going Elon Musk here”. Thus, a CDN POP of 2024 is likely to replace the Cloud Compute business model, and companies won’t have to pay for compute and storage as a utility with variable cost. Instead, companies will buy 3 high powered racks, with each rack located in different country, to serve as redundancy, but also with enough capacity to power millions of VMs, and applications for only a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Compute as-a-CDN Service

The 2024 CDN is what I call Compute as-a-CDN service. CDN customers will be able to push their entire technology software stack of web applications, data warehouses, ERP, decision support systems, and so on, to the CDN edge, where it can be close to customer, end user, partners, and so on. There will be no more middle mile optimization technologies, or compute as a utility, and all the latency issue will be confined to the last mile, being the distance from the end user to the nearest POP. Milliseconds will no longer be in the vernacular, only microsecond load and delivery.

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