Pure-play CDN Wars: US CDNs vs Europe CDNs

The US is home to the most innovative CDNs on the planet. Over the last decade, CDNs have come and gone. Speedera, Panther Express, VitalStream, Digital Island, Cotendo, and many others represent different eras, and different business models in the evolution of the CDN. Some had successful exits like Cotendo, and others were forced to sell prematurely, like Panther Express, which was acquired by CDNetworks. Few might agree, but Panther Express was very innovative, and ahead of its time, because it was they that pioneered the pay-as-you-go model that many CDNs use today.

However, across the Atlantic, a new breed of European Pure-Play CDNs have arrived, and are entering the next phase in their life cycle, which I call European CDN 2.0. The European Pure-Play CDNs are graduating from offering standard CDN feature sets, to the more advanced feature sets. They want to mimic the innovation driven CDNs like Instart Logic, Fastly, MaxCDN and CloudFlare, leveraging technologies like SDN, big data, advanced security, wireless last mile content acceleration, and so on. The only way the European Pure-Play CDN is going to thrive in the shadows of Akamai is to innovate furiously.

Emergence of the European Pure-play CDN

US CDNs vs Europe CDNs
US CDNs vs Europe CDNs

European CDN Market

Let’s not be shy here, but Akamai owns the European market, followed by Level 3 and Limelight Networks. Nothing surprising there, as they have been operating in Europe for almost the last decade. All three of them have sales offices, and support centers all over Europe. The European Pure-Play CDNs are getting ready to take the fight to Akamai’s door step. The European CDN that is able lead the pack, and rise above the competition through innovation, capturing decent market share, will get the honor of being acquired by Akamai, enlarging the pockets of many entrepreneurs in the process. Make no mistake, in three years the European Pure-Play CDNs will narrow the feature set gap. After all, Varnish, Nginx, FFMpeg, and Open Source kind of started in Europe.