Clouds and CDNs: a Match Made in Heaven?

Not only are there numerous synergies between the content delivery and cloud computing markets, but the two are set to become increasingly intertwined, according to a new GigaOM Pro report (sub. req’d). Indeed, given how fundamentally different the tasks CDNs and clouds perform are -– delivering cached content and running applications, respectively –- such a suggestion might seem odd. But the two are in fact highly complementary, in ways both CDN and cloud providers are trying to cash in on.

Cloud providers understand that latency breeds contempt, so they turn to CDNs to get a boost. Rackspace and Limelight are close partners, GoGrid just teamed with EdgeCast, and Amazon Web Services provides its own CloudFront service. The result won’t be improved application performance or faster database calls, but videos and files will load far faster than they would if they were delivered from a centralized data center.

However, it’s not just cloud providers that are taking advantage of their Internet-delivery cohorts. CDN leader Akamai, especially, has inserted itself smack into the middle of the cloud computing ecosystem, to the benefit of the SaaS market. Through a partnership with SaaS-platform provider OpSource, for example, Akamai’s route-optimization technology speeds the delivery of web applications across the Internet, giving customers a more real-time experience. Akamai even fancies itself a cloud provider by letting customers deploy Java applications across its collection of 50,000 servers, an offering it calls EdgeComputing.

The SaaS connection actually seems like something that all CDN and cloud providers should be looking to exploit. As the report notes, CDNs are struggling to make video delivery a profitable business, and while SaaS is profitable, cloud providers are still trying to convince users to move important applications into the troposphere. Clouds give CDNs something to deliver, and CDNs give clouds confidence-inspiring delivery. And they might want to get busy, as telcos seem well positioned to capitalize on this synergy unilaterally should they get proactive.

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