VeriSign launching CDN-P2P combo

VeriSign, a company better known for its security and domain businesses, is launching a content delivery network called VeriSign Intelligent CDN. It’s new territory for VeriSign, but a logical extension of its $62 million purchase of Kontiki earlier this year.

Prior to the acquisition, Kontiki had signed a number of contracts to provide a managed peer-to-peer service for distribution of AOL’s In2TV, the BBC, and Sky. Last week it announced it would also deliver content for UK network Channel 4.

In all four cases, said Todd Johnson (who was CEO of Kontiki when it was bought and next year will become Kontiki’s chief marketing officer), the media companies had to use a traditional CDN to deliver quick and easy streaming for previews and shorts. Now VeriSign will be a one-stop shop, so content owners can elect to push any single piece of content via traditional CDN or P2P.

VeriSign joins the rapidly growing business of media delivery networks led by Akamai and Limelight. Johnson says the cost of the P2P option will be approximately 40 percent less than direct bandwidth.

This is a direct competitor to the BitTorrent-Cachelogic partnership. Red Swoosh and others are using P2P in combination with caching. It’s also similar to what Azureus is doing with its recent Zudeo relaunch. Azureus, however, uses seed farms to jumpstart distribution of content that’s not (yet) popular, rather than quickly play short, streamed clips as Verisign plans to do.

Another startup we’ve covered, GridNetworks, says it can handle streaming through its command-and-control distribution, without creating a dichotomy like VeriSign is. We’ve also covered of Jaman and Skyrider (see also a great comment on another post about the company).

Kontiki has already signed one customer, Axiom TV, a provider of family-friendly content set to launch in February. Johnson promised additional customer and partner announcements at CES next month. Currently, only a Windows client is available, but a Mac version is promised for 2007.