CDN Gold Rush: Prospectors Arrive with Pickaxes

It is a boomtown in the land of the content delivery network (CDN). As with anything that proves itself valuable, everyone is learning the terrain so they can get in on the incredible speed and reliability offered by worldwide content distribution. The gold rush is on.

The market is currently at $3.7 billion and should grow to $12.2 billion over the next half decade. Those estimates are from a rigorous analysis by Markets and Markets, which released a 157-page report on the topic in early December. The prediction by the research firm places the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at a 26% average through 2019. Markets and Markets reports that North America will be responsible for the lion’s share of the revenue. Asia Pacific (APAC) will also “experiment increased market traction,” according to a (poorly written, possibly by a robot) press release on the topic.

Markets and Markets notes that the rapid expansion in content delivery network business is due to a wide proliferation of content (as seemingly dictated by Google’s “quality original content” mantra, although the first word is often forgotten). CDN’s are distributed in a similar manner to cloud technology and increasingly contain cloud components, making it easy and fast to post and share large files lightning-fast to anyone, anywhere on the planet. The three types of content that are driving CDN’s most notably, per Markets and Markets, are:

  • Music
  • Video
  • Transaction Services

The CDN has become popular both with businesses and with individual end-users, who use the networking structures to enhance peer-to-peer (P2P) computing, especially popular on the consumer market with gamers.

Loads on the Internet have reached staggering proportions, making management and quality of service (QoS) challenging. Any business offering a CDN can best maintain its customer base, per Markets and Markets, with consistent QoS. The growth of the market is increasingly competitive, with more companies releasing their CDN offerings every quarter.

Akamai Technologies is the costly “big dog” in the CDN market. Serving a similar role to Amazon or IBM in the cloud space, Akamai has estimated that it will hit $5 billion in 2020, a 400% increase over its 2013 earnings.

How Does a CDN Work?

As touched on briefly above, a content delivery network stores your files in disparate geographical locations, allowing visitors to access your pages and their content more quickly than is otherwise possible. A strong CDN is truly widespread and allows you to target either specific regions or the entire globe (for example, the Superb CDN incorporates 172 points of presence, located in 113 cities within 43 nations).

Here are several key points, drawing heavily from analysis by Patrick Sexton of

  • Content delivery networks are prevalent because when a visitor requests a webpage that is in a faraway country, latency (time between request and delivery) is quantifiable and often noticeable. That hurts both user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). It’s not just the distance itself that causes latency, but the possibility of routing difficulties. Even within the United States, if someone is trying to access a webpage in Boston that’s hosted on servers located in San Francisco, the website will be slower for the Bostonians. A CDN will put your data on servers around the country or around the world, so that every user accesses files close to them rather than from a distant locale.
  • As mentioned in the above bullet, Sexton comments that the “real reason” behind the growing prevalence of content delivery networks is that Google now uses page speed as a search signal to determine rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). Actually the other compelling reason – user experience – is just as strong: satisfying the user results in more transactions and ad-clicking. A third factor contributing to CDN popularity is mobile use, where reliability is a bigger concern than for desktop visitors, whose Web connections tend to be more stable. Sexton believes the CDN is no longer optional but “a defacto part of a webmasters [sic] toolkit.”
  • He also notes that a CDN is a matter of “need” for most webmasters at this point, but the technology is most important for those who are either trying to reach customers in more than one region or throughout a sizable nation such as the US. If you live in a small country and are only looking for users within its borders, it’s not as helpful. In America and other big countries, a content delivery network produces “qualitative improvements” for the rate of page loads. If you are in the “microstate” of Liechtenstein (a country of 62 square miles) and selling only to your fellow citizens, don’t worry about it.

Using a CDN That Delivers

Sexton also mentions cost and recommends an alternative service that is competitively priced. We aren’t just competitive. We standardly outdo the competition, with our Price Match Guarantee. Chat with one of our experts today to get started. Grab your gold rush gear. Let’s do this.

By Kent Roberts

Image Credit: Saturday Night Live (via Imgur)