Fastly, a content delivery network, that has built a competitive advantage out of using software and commodity SSDs, as opposed to specialty hardware, has raised $10 million in Series B funding from August Capital. This follows a previous $1M Series A from Battery Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The company, which launched in 2011, now claims 107 paying customers and serves about 60 gigabits per second in total traffic — or roughly 250 terabytes per day.
That sounds cool until you talk to CEO Artur Bergman and realize their single rack of its hardware can deliver 300 Gbps of capacity, so the service still has room to grow. Bergman, whose love of SSDs is well documented, explained that he’s also using 10 gigabyte Ethernet ports in the Fastly CDN build out. Bergman, like his company’s logo says, loves fast connections, so his views on how to deliver the most speed are worth listening to.
Since many companies are currently making the transition from 1-gigabit Ethernet inside their data centers to 10-gigabit Ethernet, I asked Bergman what he planned to use next. There’s actually a pretty large debate on the next interconnect technology, because on a price-per-port basis, 1-gigabit Ethernet is still the most economical way to go. Thus, speed freaks are transitioning to 10-gigabit Ethernet, but after that point it’s still fuzzy. Will people leapfrog to 40 Gigabit Ethernet? 100 Gigabit Ethernet? Adopt the photonics hardware that Intel and the Open Compute Foundation are touting?
Bergman says he’s still unsure, but if he had to guess, he’d plan on 40 gigabit Ethernet because that’s what carriers are likely to use for price reasons. And his business is all about connecting application and content companies over the carrier-owned last mile — be it to a business or home, or to a mobile device. So far, Fastly has experienced substantial success on mobile networks.
Because the company specializes in quickly refreshing content and hosting small objects (as opposed to just larger software downloads and video files) it has found a niche in delivering content to mobile users. It’s also well-equipped for the coming age of real-time web sites, a big theme that we’ll talk about during the presentations by our Cloud Trailblazers at our Structure event in June. Bergman explains that he has focused on building out software solutions on top of really fast hardware as the means to make Fastly work.
Older CDNs have spent more money and time building out hardware solutions to the content servicing problem, which is fast, but means they can’t adapt to the changing needs of the web. So while real-time web content, caching small objects (such as the many pictures on Pinterest) and federated apps built on top of API calls, are the core features of today’s web, older CDNs can’t always deliver them at a price that works for the customer. Fastly can. And if those needs change, Bergman thinks he Fastly can too.