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Performance & Scale: An Inside Look at the Business Value CDNs Bring to Network Service Providers

Last week, Akamai announced a partnership with AT&T to address the growing expectations of customers for more efficient content routing and better delivery of digital content, video and Web applications.  Addressing the explosive growth in devices, content and traffic, this partnership demonstrates several ways that network operators can leverage CDN capabilities to optimize the online experience for their customers and end-users.

Below is a bit more insight into how carriers can leverage CDN services. 

There are three primary reasons that Network Service Providers consider CDN technology:  1) Traffic Offload; 2) Network Performance; 3) Revenues.  Not surprisingly, those are the same exact reasons why Akamai partners with Network Service Providers. The challenge has always been aligning in a way where industry costs decrease, performance increases, and everyone sells more. And at the same time, provide online content owners and enterprises great performance and end users a better Internet experience. 

Most conversations with network operators start with the need for caching to help address the massive scale to meet the demands of digital media. How can an operator leverage caching in their network to provide the greatest network efficiency, what traffic should they cache, and how does it integrate with the network?  Many operators have different approaches to how this technology should be deployed, and Akamai now has several options, including recently acquired technology from Verivue

It helps that Akamai can aggregate 1000s of customers, and bring 100s of Gbps, or even Tbps of traffic to the table on day 1. Caching obviously produces network efficiency and performance benefits to enterprise customers and end users.  The impact of distributed caching should not be understated, and it helps the Internet run efficiently for all parties.

So if caching deployments closer to the edge of the operator's network help offload traffic and improve performance, where does revenue fit in? While the revenue impact may not be instant, the ability to enable better QoE for an operator's subscribers enhances retention and service satisfaction.  In addition, Akamai views enterprise channels as an important aspect of our long term growth strategy, and access to large enterprise sales teams is definitely compelling. 

At the same time, Network Service Providers are looking to enhance their existing enterprise portfolio and differentiate their network, hosting and Cloud services. Operator CDN has been an attempt at adding value to the network, but CDN services have evolved and a simple delivery service, while certainly needed, is no longer sufficient. Enterprises want services that not only deliver content, but improve service quality, simplify workflow, reach an array of devices, and provide global reach and scale. This revenue potential is part of the synergy that mutually drives network operators and Akamai to create partnerships.

Akamai is thrilled by our relationship with AT&T. While there is a lot of work to do, it brings the potential for added scale, performance, and growth on both sides of the relationship. It is also another proof point in the evolution of our ongoing relationships with Network Service Providers.

Frank Childs is Director of Product Marketing for Akamai's Aura Network Solutions.