Dynamic CDN Feature Set Development
A few years ago, the development of a strategic feature like DSA or FEO would have taken 12-24 months to go from concept to roll out. CDNs were slow to innovate, and they had the luxury of “time” on their side. Sometimes there would only be one strategic feature being worked on at any given time, and other times just a lot of minors ones. In today’s world, time is no longer a luxury. Time to market is the key to success. If a CDN can’t develop cutting edge features and services in quantity and quality, then their sales teams are going to have a difficult time reaching quota. How long should it take a CDN to develop a feature from scratch? How about six months.
CDNs must aim to create lean and mean Product Development teams that innovate furiously, and have the ability to work on multiple strategic features concurrently. This is what we’ll refer to as the Dynamic CDN Product Development Lifecycle. There are two major benefits of operating in this fashion: 1) it enables CDNs to differentiate themselves from other CDNs and 2) there is a Plan B in case of a highly touted feature doesn’t pan out for whatever reason. Sometimes the “killer” feature might never materialize, and if it doesn’t, then the CDN can pull out another one from the hopper. Its simple math of not putting all the eggs in one basket.
Dynamic CDN Business Model
In addition, the CDN business model must be dynamic, and be able to change direction at a moment’s notice. This is a Plan B for the business model strategy. Example: What happens if a CDN raises $30M in venture capital, hires the best engineering and sales team on the planet, and creates an incredible feature set that is vastly different than everyone else, however, once the CDN goes to market, sales revenue bombs? Having a Plan B means the CDN can change business models mid-way if need be without causing too much disruption. Aryaka Networks is a successful CDN, but what if there WAN as-a-service never took off? Or what if CloudFlare’s quarterly sales remained flat for 3 quarters in a row?
Having a Plan B makes the transformation a lot easier for the entrepreneur. There is nothing wrong with a CDN having to change mid-way from B2B CDN to SDN, or Security, or whatever. Yottaa is a success story, in that they transformed themselves from a CloudFlare like company charging low prices to an Akamai like company charging premium prices for premium services. Sure, it took a few years for them to go into a completely new direction, but nevertheless they did it and are reaping the rewards for the smart move. They probably didn’t have a Plan B in place, but if they did, maybe they could have shortened the transformation time in half. Today’s CDNs are not yesterday’s CDNs and having a Plan B or even a Plan C is of strategic importantance.