How CDNs Can Increase Efficiency Through Industry Collaboration and Commoditization

To increase efficiency, capacity, and flexibility within the Content Delivery Network (CDN) space, the industry should let go of its tendencies toward siloing and work more collaboratively. In a recent interview with Streaming Media's Tim Siglin at Streaming Media East 2022, Mark De Jong, Chair of CDN Alliance, explains that the rapidly increasing differences in telecommunications infrastructures require much better worldwide industry cooperation.

“We’re coming into certain areas where we have common challenges overall concerning sustainability, interoperability, security, privacy, availability, capacity--those are all the topics,” De Jong says. “If we work on this together as an industry, we can solve them.”

De Jong explains that CDN Alliance is an independent nonprofit organization that acts as an association for the global CDN industry. “It's a $13 billion industry,” De Jong says. “75% of all the traffic worldwide is either done by CDN providers or backed by CDN technology.” However, he notes that, as a whole, the industry is completely unorganized. A key mission of CDN Alliance is to change that situation. “We want to ensure that CDN industries, organizations, and people are connected," he says.

De Jong and Siglin discuss more of the specific technology that will help increase efficiency and capacity in live streaming. “It's more about the use of applications for delivery, rather than the pure casting mechanism that is in place,” De Jong says. Siglin agrees and cites the amusing example Peter Chave, Principal Architect at Akamai Technologies, gave of Jeff, who works as a “one-man band” busker in New York City. Jeff has multiple musical instruments strapped to his body, which makes him someone who is literally full of “lots of bells and whistles.” However, in technology, adding lots of “bells and whistles” creates a significant potential for problems with getting software to perform all of these new applications in one container. Siglin says that edge computing can serve as a powerful solution to these issues, and he notes that he also recently discussed the emerging importance of edge computing with Christopher (Kip) Turco, CEO of StackPath, in their fireside chat at Streaming Media East 2022.

Both De Jong and Siglin agree that capacity is also a key aspect the industry should focus on.

“It seems like we ebb and flow in the industry, where sometimes we have over capacity, and lots of other times we feel like we're just barely able to keep up with the capacity," Siglin says. He asks De Jong, "Is that transit egress/ingress between CDM providers, or is that also an issue to the end user?”

“It’s primarily about telco infrastructures,” De Jong says. “It differs per country and even region. If I look at Western Europe, Western countries…it’s a good sustainable network in general. But if you look at other areas, Asia, Africa, Latin America -- they're not on the same level already. And they also don't have the capital expenditure to keep investing what they're doing.”

Siglin concurs that these disparities are stark. He is also the Founding Executive Director of Help Me Stream Research Foundation. One of that organization’s chief concerns is “looking at how do we get things into places where there's limited or no connectivity," he says. North America and Europe are totally blanketed with connectivity, whereas areas such as sub-Saharan Africa severely lack network infrastructure.

Ultimately, all of these mounting issues can be ameliorated if businesses and organizations within the CDN space begin to work together collaboratively, which entities such as CDN Alliance and Help Me Stream Research are working hard to facilitate.  

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