CDN Market Size To Reach $75 Billion by 2021 – Courtesy of The Gigabit Society

  • Some folks peg the CDN market at $4B to $5B presently, which is likely to grow to $20B by 2020
  • Cisco VNI  predicts that we’ll enter the zettabyte territory by 2019
  • Some folks believe the CDN market is growing at a range of 20% to 30% year-over-year

These data points paint a predictable picture of steady growth over the next few years. This, in turn, impacts decisions of all kinds, like what startups to invest in, what features and business models startups should develop, whether investors should snap up Akamai stock, what kind of skill sets should be hired, and so on.

In today’s technology world, we know that historical stats, especially recent ones, are the worse predictors of future growth or future anything. There are way too many companies out there to name that defied historical metrics, expectations, imagination, and so on.  The truth of the matter is we really don’t have a clue as to what is coming in the next five years.

Is it possible that Internet traffic volume will grow by thousands of percentile points vs 30% year-over-year? Is it possible Cisco and many other analyst folks are way off? Of course.

Case in point, Ericsson and Teliasonera just announced that 5G will be available in 2018 in Stockholm and Tallinn. In the Ericsson Mobility Report, Ericsson stated there will be 150M 5G subscriptions by 2021. In another article, Ericsson stated that the new 5G standard, according to some tests, will support 5Gbps.

The bottom line on what the future holds is Isaac Newton vs the Analyst Community and Isaac Newton vs Cisco. So if we do some simple Isaac Newton math, this is what we get:

Issac Newton vs Cisco

  • 150,000,000 x 1Gbps = 150,000,000Gbps = 150,000Tbps = 150Pbps
  • 150,000,000 x 5Gbps = 750,000,000Gbps = 750,000Tbps = 750Pbps
  • 250,000,000 x 1Gbps = 250,000,000Gbps = 250,000Tbps = 250Pbps
  • 250,000,000 x 5Gbps = 1,250,000,000Gbps = 1,250,000Tbps = 1,250Pbps

According to the simple math above, 150M Subscribers x 5Gbps, we get 750Pbps. Now does that sound like the Cisco zettabyte era? Of course not, it sounds like the Bizety Xenottbyte era, or the “Gigabit Society”.

What Does This Mean to Akamai

If Akamai is “Intelligent” and really wants to live up to its moniker, “The Intelligent Platform”, it should take $200M in cash from the bank and become a middle-mile telecom. That means go out there and become like Google and buy dark fiber, or all other kinds of fiber across the world, because 750Pbps of Internet traffic is beyond the imagination of the telecom folk.

So if Akamai’s sustained network traffic is somewhere in the ball park of 20Tbps – 30Tbps currently, and we enter the Gbps Society by 2021, does that mean they will become a Pbps CDN? And if they become a Pbps CDN, pushing sustained Pbps traffic, that will be 40x their current volume. And finally, does that mean their annual revenue will increase from $2B per year to $80B per year? I don’t know, I’m not Isaac Newton.

What Does This Mean to Apple’s CDN Efforts

If we enter the Pbps era with Apple’s 1B mobile users, there is no way in the world they will be able to deliver all that traffic themselves. And that means Apple was wrong in thinking that they could eventually do everything all CDN in-house.

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