Final Solution

The inimitable Dan Rayburn has better insight into the CDN market than anyone I know. But he has missed the point with his recent posting on the lawsuits between Akamai, Limelight and Level3.

The reality is Level3 are some way from offering a self-provisioned CDN service. In fact, in an age of self-provisioning, ASP and web services, many of the CDNs are in the dark ages compared to Amazon and their S3 and associated services. The real reason for the lawsuit was to drive down the Limelight price so that Level3 could buy Limelight outright.

I had some clever people spend months trying (OK, not that hard) to integrate with Akamai, and the technical problems seemed insurmountable. It was like setting up a business and then trying to integrate into a set of abacuses as an accounting system. The Akamai backend was developed around a decade ago and has never been evolved with the client in mind.

Why can't CDNs give me a web console where I can load either files or URLs, and then give me a stats screen ? Why can't they charge online and benefit from the long tail that they're all trying to ignore? ISPs have been doing this for ages, and CDNs are nothing more than a glorified ISP.

These are companies hung up by technologies that are, at best, marginal, whereas a decent service provision would win them the market. They are companies where infrastructure and commoditisation has taken precedence over service and innovation.

Above all, they are companies that will be brought low by the burden of their overheads and their perceived, not real, marketplaces.

The CDN market is, probably, in a terminal decline of their own making. Our future is in the clouds...