CDN and the Cloud: Together at CDN World Forum

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Day two of the CDN World Forum at Olympia in London was an interesting warm up for me: The Content Delivery Summit (which I both programme and co-chair) has moved to Olympia from this October, along with the rest of Streaming Media Europe, and so for me the similarly named—but succinctly and importantly different—CDN World Forum was a little like a test run.

The environment is a more mature conference facility than the Novotel London West that we have used for years. and while it lacks hotel facilities, Olympia could probably give a conference of  silly walks a serious focus! I look forward to seeing 'our' conference there, although I will miss the Novotel bar in the evenings. However there's a decent pub nearby so I'm sure this will not be a show stopper!

I had the pleasures of me hosting and chairing today's this second day of the event, although I didn't programme the day; that was left to the organisers at Keynote World Media, who co-located the event with their Cloud World Forum.

This co-location gave a really interesting focus to the day, with nearly all the sessions looking at the cloud and CDN side by side.

Possibly the most notable thing for me was the presence of Akamai on an exhibition stand proclaiming Akamai as one of the most advanced cloud infrastructure providers. Yet there was no sign of Amazon...

There was a good spread of global players represented, and a notable attendance from Asian players, including NTT, Huawei, and an interesting SME from Korea called Solution Box. I get the growing sense that fires of innovation are lighting right across Asia at the moment, and the insight they provided  was extremely exciting.

IneoQuest provided a most interesting outline of their CDN QoS/QoE monitoring software, and this was new to me: I recommend checking it out if you are interested in monitoring of streaming.

Streaming Media Europe/Content Delivery Summit veterans Jet-Stream  provided a great presentation exploring the premium value adds that they feel CDNs must focus on in order to drive value.

NTT, Level 3, and Telefonica all provided robust outlines for telco operator strategy as they develop CDNs, although throughout the day neither operators nor any other presenters really handled questions around net neutrality well, and I was left with a sense that they either wanted to avoid the issue or simply had no real answers.  This concerns me, since operators are walking in muddy water in my mind if they don't have a clear policy on their relationship with other CDNs and their own networks.. For all the talk about CDN federation, it must be a mutually beneficial arrangement, and not simply a way to fish for outsourcing or overflow work from rivals.

Returning once again to the cloud/CDN topic, I want to leave you with the one thing that really excited me: Julian Everett, the CTO of, spoke extensively about their strategy with regard to outsourcer distribution to clouds or CDNs. The thing that excited me was the fact that in many ways they ideally do not distinguish between the two. Pragmatically they have to, since proximity and latency (CDN) or low-commit and flexibility (cloud) offer different SLAs and QoE, however in logical terms they make no distinction. From my point of view, this is a current that is growing stronger in the sector.

For my part I do not believe that cloud and CDN will converge utterly. In fact, I think that both are a blend of virtual hosting of network applications with different use cases.

However, there is no denying that there is good reason for CDN World Forum, and Cloud Computing World Forum to be co-located—just as the many similar, but nonetheless distinct, reasons why Streaming Media Europe and the Content Delivery Summit are also naturally co-located.

And while there are nearly as many content delivery-focused events as there are CDNs, this is symptomatic of the maturation of the sector and how it has moved from a niche service industry to a mainstream topic of conversation.

I look forward to seeing more good discussion at this year's Content Delivery Summit.

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