By Jim Davis; special to InsightaaS.com from 451 Research
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InsightaaS.com works with 451 Research to bring occasional thought leadership pieces to our readers. This piece, "OnApp's CDN.Net service adds streaming to the mix," demonstrates why 451 Research's perspective is important to InsightaaS readers. In it, 451 senior analyst Jim Davis provides perspective on the content distribution network (CDN) market, and how it is evolving to a SaaS delivery model.
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Maybe the video streaming wars aren't over after all. There's a new CDN on the block with a live streaming video service, commodity pricing and a no-commit pricing policy. CDN.net officially launched its live streaming service this week — on federated infrastructure it doesn't 'own.'
CDN.Net is a CDN service run on the OnApp CDN platform. OnApp offers hosting firms software to enable cloud IaaS services, including CDN. Customers offering CDN service contribute their compute resources to the OnApp federated CDN. This enables a cloud provider to deliver content off its own network, if it so chooses. In order to help drive traffic onto the platform (and revenues to participating providers), OnApp chose to launch a CDN service this year on the federated OnApp infrastructure.
CDN.net's streaming capabilities are powered by Wowza Media's server software — the same software that powers several other CDN services. The company's strategy is to offer commodity pricing, no setup fees and no commits to pre-purchase bandwidth. That's not revolutionary in and of itself — Amazon's CloudFront offers this pricing model — but the major CDN service providers do still require contracts with monthly minimum bandwidth purchases. CDN.Net believes that pricing flexibility plus the location of CDN points of presence (POPs) in a lot of atypical locations will help it garner customers who wouldn't have used a CDN before, or need to switch from other CDN providers in order to access servers in particular markets.
CDN.Net has already had customers up and running on the service, including an unnamed TV broadcaster that needed delivery in a particular country where international viewers were accessing its online video service. Another customer is an event company producing several live events per month on average, but had some months with no events. It switched from another CDN provider in order to cut costs by paying only for the traffic streamed instead of paying a monthly bill for bandwidth it didn't always use.
After dealing with years of battles between Microsoft and Adobe and upstarts like Move Networks, the CDN vendors have moved on from being first with the latest streaming media server software to adding on more media-related services.
For instance, Akamai has introduced services this year such as ad integration and live demonstrations of on-the-fly stream packaging that allows a customer to take a single stream source and package it for delivery to multiple mobile devices. Akamai, Level 3 and Limelight Networks all offer encoding as a service, and Limelight offers Web and video content management SaaS applications.
That being said, CDN.Net isn't directly aiming to compete against the big CDN vendors; it more closely resembles Amazon's CloudFront in terms of its pay-as-you go approach, but can also be seen as competing against a number of live video streaming services offered by companies like Brightcove that strive to make it easier to produce and distribute content.