The Challenges Facing CDN Federation

Will CDN federation ever become a reality? What started as a system for smaller content delivery networks (CDNs) to compete against larger players holds real promise for solving distribution shortcomings.

In a panel discussion at the recent Content Delivery Summit in London, a panel of experts in the field looked at what it would take for CDN federation to take off. Stef van der Ziel of Jet-Stream began by explaining the idea.

"In the beginning, there were just a few CDNs, but what we see today is that virtually any telecom operator will have to run a CDN eventually, even enterprises and content owners have their own CDNs, which is great because content gets distributed deeper into the networks, deeper to mobile networks, deeper to the end user. But, the problem for content owners is they don't have to work with one or two or three CDNs, anymore; they have to work with ten or a hundred or a thousand CDNs, which doesn't make sense for them. So, either they need some overlaying technology or they need someone as a mediator or, even better, the telecom operators should start to federate.

"Just go to one and the telecom operator, even though they don't have the capacity in other regions, can buy capacity in other regions and use that capacity from other operators to deliver content deeper into remote regions. Some of the models are from global CDNs to regional CDNs, but also between regional CDNs," explained van der Ziel.

CDN federation is similar to roaming or peering, but with different content.

"It's not just telephone data, it's not just Internet data -- it's premium content, so they have to do something extra than just distributing the content. It's not enough to just cache and distribute. They have to give information back to the content owners and to a hierarchy of companies in the entire ecosystem," noted van der Ziel.

To see the entire discussion, watch the video below. Start at about the 38-minute mark for the CDN conversation.

CDN Federation Panel

Stef van der Ziel, founder, Jet-Stream

Marc Latouche, Manager IBSG, Cisco USA

Is there a way forward for CDN federation? A blue sky session for all delegates - and what could become the first of an annual meeting series for the proposed CDN Federation.

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