We speak to Kevin Lewis, Director of Global Alliances at US firm EdgeCast, about the QoS advantage provided by Content Delivery Networks, the role that CDNs will take in delivering video services, and the challenges ahead for the Asian CDN industry.
What technological progress have you seen in CDNs in the past year?
EdgeCast has taken a very unique position within the CDN industry. Our strategy to date has been centred on enabling the world’s top telecommunications carriers to build out competent CDNs inside their own networks.
The technology that’s core to our strategy has pushed EdgeCast into being one of the largest – and one of the only profitable – CDNs in the world. We focus on automation, application acceleration, federation, licensing CDN software, and all of the advanced analytics layered on top of delivery.
Do you see quality of service as the single biggest reason for a content provider or OTT operator to use CDNs?
No. Quality of service is only a small part of it. We’ve identified three key drivers, with QoS being just one of them. A second driver is the desire to drive more value into the telco’s core business, and it’s becoming mandatory to their new strategies.
Core businesses that provide IP transit, hosting, and other network services have been so overly commoditised that adding an intelligent CDN is an excellent complement to legacy products. The third driver is centred around cost savings and the backbone – or “eyeball” network.
In order to achieve cost savings inside a network, major telcos must embrace the idea of becoming a commercial CDN. If they don’t, cost savings will pivot and be forced to come from other products like transparent caching – but transparent caching can only provide so much.
If the telco can control where content is cached and served from inside of their network, the combined revenue and cost savings these networks achieve make for very material return on the CDN investment.
Are CDNs making it unnecessary to use managed networks for the delivery of IP video?
Not necessarily. There’s still a large segment of the market that finds managed networks helpful, as they provide features such as point-and-click encoding and easy Web player building.
But we’ve found that a lot of our heavy-duty video streaming clients like using the the tools and capabilities provided directly in our portal for an added amount of control and flexibility of their content that’s already stored on our network.
What role do you think CDNs will take in the overall mix of ways to deliver video content to viewers?
CDNs will always drive video delivery; it is the only economical way to support the influx of video into these networks. If the telco can control the video delivery, that means they are monetising that asset (video,) which gives them far better economics on their networks since they can now couple revenue and cost savings.
What technological challenges lie ahead for the Asian CDN industry?
The fundamental way that networks peer in Asia will make CDNs a bit of a challenge in this region. However, that point alone represents a major opportunity for network operators.
As EdgeCast moves further into the CDN space in Asia, we have seen that we become more and more attractive to a majority of the telcos – who will then have control of certain markets. China is a specific and unique regional challenge for several reasons.
What potential do you see for mobile CDN services?
There is a massive explosion of growth in mobile and a higher expectation about delivery and the user experience. Consumers want speed and reliability in their handheld devices, which means a great potential for CDN services within this space. EdgeCast has understood the opportunity of this trend and we’re making great strides toward becoming the leading CDN in the mobile space.