It appears that Microsoft recently registered the domains Sway.com and Sway-cdn.com, which I verified via whois. Is Microsoft planning on launching a more comprehensive CDN platform? I say comprehensive, since they already have a rudimentary CDN in place called Azure CDN. The current CDN platform is very basic, offering limited features and functionality. From what I can gather from the website, it talks about Zones, how to set up origin storage, how to set up CDN, and so on. In addition, Azure CDN has nodes in 29 locations. The first thing that pops out is the name CDN Node. A CDN saying it has nodes in 29 locations, kind of seems like they have 29 desktop nodes on a LAN. CDN POP sounds more relevant, especially if it’s a SuperPOP, with thousands of servers, and Tbps of bandwidth capacity at that data center. The word SuperNode doesn’t really have the same impact. From what I can gather, Azure CDN is in exactly the same place that Amazon Cloudfront was about 4 years ago.
Is Microsoft Building a Full Service CDN
I will go on record and say yes. The reason I believe Microsoft is planning a full service CDN is due to two reasons. First, Microsoft has been hiring engineering talent from multiple CDNs over the years. Unlike Apple, this talent has very deep CDN experience in many different facets of the CDN technology stack. Next, Microsoft has to roll out a full service CDN, if it wants to even the playing field, and compete with AWS head on. For Microsoft, it’s not a choice, but a must. The same applies to Google, if they want to even the playing field in the cloud service space, they will eventually have to roll out a full service CDN. And I’m not not talking about a rudimentary CDN, but a full service CDN with all the bells and the whistles. At last count, there are about two dozen CDN bells and whistles, which is growing every year.
In Cloud Service Provider game, cloud compute and cloud storage are only two parts of the equation. The third part of the equation is delivery, or more specifically CDN. And guess what, CDN is way more complex, and orders of magnitude much more difficult than compute and storage. Not only does it involve more moving parts, but it involves working with dozens of more partners globally. Conclusion: Although AWS is ahead of Microsoft and Google in the CDN component, I’m sure they’ll catch up in 3 years. And this time around, the CDN community is smarter, and we are not going to make the same mistake we did with Amazon, and give the out CDN crown to any one until they prove it. For now, the CDN crown still belongs to that outfit in Cambridge. In the CDN business, capital is important, but skill set is more important, and right now there is a severe shortage of CDN talent in the ecosystem.