Cotendo is mixing the benefits of both cloud computing and content-delivery networks (CDN) in an attempt to boost performance and speed when delivering dynamic, personalized content to users. Cotendo’s new offering, Cloudlet, lets users house applications’ business logic on Cotendo’s geographically-dispersed “edge” nodes, meaning decisions about how to deliver content to users are made faster because they’re carried out closer to the users. If it works as advertised, Cloudlet could be a boon for Cotendo’s competitiveness in the cutthroat CDN market, where it must fight for customers against big-name providers such as Akamai and Limelight Networks.
As a report last year from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d) explains in detail, delivering static content is easy for CDN providers, but dynamic content and personal content present a bit of a challenge because that type of content require additional processing in order to get the right individualized content to each user. According to the press release announcing Cloudlet, the new service “addresses the growing need for content providers to deliver more personalized, customized and device-specific content efficiently and quickly, thus improving the users’ experience and ensuring high performance without increasing infrastructure complexity, spending or headcount.”
The key word is quickly, which is largely what distinguishes Cloudlet and Cotendo from competitive offerings. In theory, running business logic on the edge nodes where content is stored is faster, because web servers are spared from the task having to handle and process content requests. Amazon Web Services’ CloudFront service and Akamai serve static content from edge locations, but still route requests for dynamic and personalized content through the customer’s web servers. Akamai does have a service called EdgeComputing that runs parts of an application’s business logic on edge nodes, but it targets interactive enterprise applications, not content delivery.
Any slight edge Cotendo can get in the CDN market is worth its weight in gold. Not only does it have to compete against the giant Akamai — which sued Contendo for patent infringement in November, just a month before losing its appeal in a similar lawsuit against Limelight — but also against telcos that are increasingly equipping themselves with content-delivery technology from network vendors like Juniper Networks, and from cloud computing providers such as AWS that utilize their global server footprints to underpin CDN services. In its attempt to steal revenue from underneath Akamai’s shadow, Cotendo is actually has a reseller partnership with AT&T, which now uses Cloudlet as part of its Content Acceleration suite and which already has signed on AccuWeather as Cloudlet customer.