Latest CDN Industry Buzz

Recently, there’s been some interesting news coming out of the public domain regarding the actions of a few major players. Some of the news is laughable, some of it sad, and some of it makes your head spin when trying to figure out the industry implications. Here’s the most interesting stories of 2019. 

Cloudflare Merging with Akamai

This piece of news stands out like a sore thumb. According to a Zimbabwe tech blog, Cloudflare is merging with Akamai. The evidence that leads to this conclusion-the tech blog has colleagues that work for Akamai and Cloudflare, and these colleagues have noticed that both companies are sharing the same work address in San Francisco and London. That’s it. That’s the reason they’re merging. 

Perhaps the reason they have the same address is due to a WeWork kind of deal. In that case, not only could Cloudflare share an office and a table with Akamai, but also with Fastly and Limelight Networks. 

All kidding aside, the chances of Cloudflare and Akamai merging are less than zero. Akamai is all about the Fortune 1000, all things security nowadays, and high monthly recurring revenue accounts. Cloudflare is about the SMB, all things serverless, free accounts, and 12M properties. In another words, Cloudflare and Akamai are two very different companies that are diametrically opposed, from the CEO’s to the culture to their target market to their mission in life, and so on. Besides that, there’s a line of more interesting suitors with deeper pockets like Google, Microsoft, and IBM.  

Akamai Lays off 125 Employees

Unfortunately, it looks like Akamai had another round of layoffs in January. This is not surprising since hedge fund Elliott Management took a stake in Akamai a while back. The mission in life for a hedge fund is to improve shareholder value, which usually translates to cost cutting, layoffs, margin improvement, etc. The bright side for those laid off, the market is super-hot for talent right now. The competition is hiring and having Akamai on the resume opens up a lot of doors.

Is Cloudflare Building a Globally Distributed SQL (NewSQL) Platform

All we hear these days from Cloudflare is about the many benefits of Workers and Workers KV. Workers is a truly an impressive product. The big news, Cloudflare has just made a significant hire. Alex Robinson has recently joined Cloudflare and he brings with him an impressive resume. He’s worked for Google as a software engineer where he got his hands dirty on Kubernetes development. After Google, he joined Cockroach Labs, the startup whose NewSQL product is a direct competitor to Google Spanner. Also, Alex happens to be a gifted speaker with Larry Ellison like database knowledge.

Workers KV is Cloudflare’s key-value data store (NoSQL) that is available at all 150+ PoPs. The product adds a whole new dimension to their serverless product. In a nutshell, KV brings some form of state to the otherwise stateless Workers at the edge.

However, there are some limitations to Workers KV. Although it supports a high volume of reads, it does a poor job at supporting a high volume of writes. In comparison, Azure Cosmos DB guarantees reads and writes of under 10ms anywhere in the world. That’s impressive. That’s where Alex comes in. His Cockroach Labs experience in developing globally distributed SQL will come in handy in taking Workers KV to the next level. In a few months or possibly longer, expect Workers KV to perform reads and writes at ms speed, regardless of volume or location. But why stop there. Why not up the game and develop a globally distributed SQL platform with strong consistency and ACID support. Now that gets the head spinning. 

Please Akamai, Don’t Buy Cockroach Labs

In one move, Akamai can drive an emotional stake in the heart of Cloudflare and really get on the nerves of Google, Azure, and AWS. How? Buy Cockroach Labs. Cockroach Labs is to NewSQL to what MongoDB is to NoSQL. They’re on fire. They’ve raised $53M and have been advertising all over the Internet. If the stars align properly for them, they’ll be up there with MongoDB in a few years.

Serverless and functions (FaaS) are cool but they’re stateless. A Cockroach Labs acquisition would bring new life to the Akamai technology stack, in that they’ll be able to add stateful services at the edge. That’s scary. However, Akamai won’t do it. They’re way too caught up on ramping up the security portfolio.

Will Fastly Beat Cloudflare to IPO

Fastly has a job opening for VP of Investor Relations and SVP of Finance and Treasurer. In a weird way, it can be construed as a sign that they’re moving full steam ahead with an IPO in short order. Cloudflare has no job openings for similar talent. Thus, it can be construed as they’re taking their sweet time on an IPO. Being the first CDN to IPO this year is a really big deal. There hasn’t been a CDN IPO in the US since Limelight Networks, which coincidentally is the same year and month that the iPhone came out. Strange indeed. 

 Verizon Offering 100GbE for Super Low Price

According to Dan Rayburn, Verizon is offering 100GbE on a five year contract for a one time lump sum of $250,000 to a select group of CDNs. If we break down the fee to a monthly basis, it comes out to $4,167/mo. That’s a really low price point for 100GbE, which amounts to sub-dollar/Mbps pricing, especially since Verizon is Tier 1 creme of the crop quality for IP transit. However, there might be a lot of restrictions tagged to it. 

Akamai Exists the VOD Transcoding Business

Akamai threw in the towel to the cut-throat video transcoding business and is directing all existing transcoding clients to encoding.com. The “Media Services On-Demand” product performs VOD transcoding and packaging. That’s a good move for Akamai, because that particular market is highly competitive and requires a ton of compute capacity to perform jobs and margins are slim. Akamai can now focus more resources on the security business. Ecoding.com, AWS, Azure, and Google are best suited for this type of low margin business.

That’s it for now.