Akamai vs Fastly in the Network Operator Market

On October 15, 2014, Akamai and Juniper created a product called Elastic CDN for network operators, which bundles Akamai’s virtualized Aura license and Juniper’s SDN product called Contrail Controller. In this case, the Contrail Controller for SDN is the Juniper product that enables network operators to install a virtualized instance of the Akamai CDN onto the VOD platform of the network operator. Pros: the offering is revolutionary and it will change the way network operators deliver VOD content, at least in concept. Cons – #1: the network operator that buys this bundle will be locked into Akamai + Juniper. In the CDN industry, vendor lock-in is usually a no-no, and it’s usually a thorn on the side for many network operators too.

Con #2: Juniper’s Contrail Controller is the Juniper flavor of SDN+NFV and it is seen as a proprietary offering by many in the industry, as opposed to the OpenDaylight Project and Project Floodlight, which are open source versions of the Contrail Controller supported by a large community of developers and companies. However, even OpenDaylight’s dedication to open source is being questioned, because one of the main backers is Cisco, and many folks in the industry believe that Cisco and open source are not compatible.

Fastly in the Network Operator Industry

Fastly is the cool CDN that raised a ton of money and is hiring like mad these days. They’re all about instant delivery, instant purge, log streaming, real time everything, and micro-second performance. Of the many start-ups in the CDN Ecosystem, Fastly is one of few that can pose a challenge to Akamai + Juniper in the network operator market. Sure, they need to tweak their platform a little bit, but in one year they can probably have it production ready. When Fastly first entered the CDN space, they did not support video streaming. After a few months, they started supporting streaming and were quite successful. During conversations with Artur and team, Fastly had media clients streaming video 24×7, just like a TV channel would.

The first thought that came to mind was “why” video, since the video streaming business line is like the Supermarket business, where profit margins are razor thin. But now looking back, the choice to support video streaming was genius, and it gives Fastly the capability to compete with Akamai + Juniper in the network operator industry, if it chooses to do so. How? Fastly can sell network operators a virtualized copy of their CDN infrastructure that can be deployed in minutes or hours that goes from a bare-metal + open source platform to the infrastructure of choice for the network operator.

As an added incentive, Fastly can offer source code so the network operator is not tied to any particular vendor. Why would Fastly or any other start-up CDN with streaming video capabilities do it? Because it’s hard to say no to $20M+  when they offer it to you. Why would the network operator do it? Because then they don’t have to buy a physical CDN saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.

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