Who’s in the Exclusive Edge Computing CDN Club

Edge computing is taking the world by storm. Although the term means different things to different industries,  when used in the context of a CDN, it has a very specific meaning. Edge computing is a set of AWS-like capabilities invented by the innovators of our industry. These innovators can be counted on one hand, 4 to be precise out of 50.

We didn’t come up with these specific capabilities. These four companies embraced the edge computing philosophy, developed new features in that specific area, and integrated them into their technology stack. While on this quest, they transformed their business model into a mini-AWS like company. These companies figured it’s better to eat the scraps that fall from AWS’s $30B table than Akamai’s $3B table.

An essential part of the CDN infrastructure is the PoP. Some vendors have hundreds of them, while others have <100. Every PoP houses a technology stack comprised of commodity hardware and software. With that being said, we define the Edge Computing CDN as a company that has capabilities to ingest, process, store, and deliver vast amounts of data from the PoP (edge), thus fulfilling the promise of edge computing.

The four innovators leading the edge computing movement in our industry are the following:

  • Fastly
  • Cloudflare
  • StackPath
  • Section

The capabilities these four vendors have developed specific to edge computing are summarized here: 

  1. Edge functions / severless scripting / WebAssembly
  2. CDN database: backend that supports functions
  3. Containers: KaaS (Kubernetes as-a-Service) coming later
  4. Processing stack in the PoP (coming later): ingest high volumes of data, cleanse/correlate/process data, store it, then feed it into another system like database, machine learning program, etc. Think Spotify or Cloudflare but at the edge, not a central datacenter. 

All four vendors support #1. Cloudflare is the only one with a CDN database and StackPath is the only one supporting containers + VM’s. Thus, each vendor has develop one of more features above but not all, because they’re just getting started. Edge computing is relatively new and it will play out over the next 1-3 years. Expect all four to have a lot more edge computing capabilities in twelve months. It just takes time to develop. Revenue will follow thereafter. This is a long term play, not short term. 

There are there are three more providers on the horizon working on there edge computing capabilities, more to follow later this month.