The CDN industry has changed a great deal over the last several years. As more and more independent companies enter the market with wildly different types of infrastructure, I think it's important to go back to the basics. I recently saw a set of surveys created by Limelight about CDNs, how customers choose them and issues customers have with them that I think does this really well.
To me, the most interesting result of the survey is that with all of the different CDNs that exist, customers have one overarching problem. Based on the survey, the biggest need is clear: 85% of customers responded that 24/7 delivery was a requirement. In today’s world, its clear, customers require access to what they want, when they want. CDNs can’t expect to succeed if the content they distribute isn’t always available.
Next, 63% of respondents said that at some point, their companies had struggled to reach customers in many geographies. If a CDN doesn’t reach certain geographies, then it doesn’t have 24/7 delivery capabilities to those customers. Obviously, this issue is directly tied to the previous one.
A third interesting result is that 45% of those polled noted that they see frequent spikes in demand. This could be an issue in two ways: either from a bandwidth cost perspective or from a network congestion point of view. The financial issue could force a company away from a CDN, but the network congestion issue brings us back to 24/7 content availability. If the network is too crowded to deliver files well, then the content isn’t really available.
Delivering information efficiently isn’t going to get easier. 40% of the customers polled said they need to move growing amounts of data. As content grows in size and becomes richer, distributing content will only get harder, but CDN stability will remain every bit as important.
What does this all mean? It means that customers want CDNs that are always available, regardless of geography, and to work when the going gets rough (during spikes in demand). Thanks to WebRTC, this should become increasingly feasible in the next several years. WebRTC protocols allow for the transfer information in-browser via P2P. New, geographically agnostic, networks built on on top of this technology will be able handle peak demand, without the bandwidth costs.