Trends Impacting CDN Business Models

Being a next-gen CDN is a difficult job, and is akin to being a mini-Google, where dozens of non-related systems must be hacked together, in order for them to work in unison. From an operational perspective, the job of continuous system improvement is never ending. Caching, logging, admin systems, reporting systems, dashboards, storage, servers, routing, switching, load balancing, streaming infrastructure, and the like, need non-stop upkeep and tweaking. Even something as simple as deploying the most current server hardware is a herculean task, because replacing hardware at dozens of PoPs is very resource intensive. CPUs, motherboards, RAM, NIC’s and disk drives improve year after year. Any server over three years old must be junked, or used for non-trivial tasks.

From an external perspective, the constant introduction of new trends and innovations in the marketplace is enough to drive even the most veteran Marketing and Product Team insane. Marketing and Product are the eyes and ears of the organization that must be able to read the trends, and make decisions that will help or hurt a CDN in the long run. Its a tough balancing act, but very rewarding. Here are some of the recent trends impacting the CDN Ecosystem.

Trends Influencing the CDN Ecosystem

  • Bare-metal Hardware: Newer hardware helps improve content delivery performance
  • RAN technologies are now a critical part of the CDN. It improves content delivery over the RAN
  • SDKs offered by RAN CDNs help CDN-enable mobile devices
  • Advancements in 4G and WiFi (5G soon) architectures, chip technology, and cloud RAN in the cell tower environments will impact mobile downstream / upstream speeds
  • GPON is revolutionizing last mile bandwidth speeds. Some implementations are in the 1Gbs – 10Gbps range
  • SDN and NFV is helping CDNs improve internal architectures, and CDN build-outs for customers
  • Artificial Intelligence is a game changer that will improve internal system efficiency, but also introduce a new cyber threat dynamic
  • Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Halolens (Hologram) technology is likely to re-invent the video streaming ecosystem
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