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GigaOm Key Criteria for Evaluating Content Delivery Network (CDN) Solutionsv2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. CDN Sector Brief
  3. Decision Criteria Analysis
  4. Analyst’s Take
  5. About Andrew Green

1. Executive Summary

A content delivery network (CDN) is a distributed network of server and caching points of presence (PoPs) built to distribute centralized content across geographies. The primary purpose of any CDN is to solve the latency and performance problems inherent in geographically distributed environments.

Since their inception, CDNs have specialized in bringing content closer to internet users worldwide. In the past, the primary value of the CDN was arguably its geographically dispersed PoPs. As a handful of providers have reached extensive coverage across all continents, the physical distribution of servers is no longer the sole differentiator. So many CDNs have switched their focus from solely deploying more PoPs for local caching to enhancing their offerings by adding more management features and reporting capabilities.

Business Imperative
Enterprises around the world have long relied on CDNs to provide near-instantaneous availability of their digital resources to end users. These users are consumers, other businesses, applications, remote workers, and everything in between. However, as technologies have grown more complex, simple caching and load balancing are no longer sufficient. Modern CDNs are employing new transfer protocols, intelligent routing, image optimization, dynamic content support, and streaming video services—which are particularly important in dealing with the shift to distributed working and media consumption.

Sector Adoption Score
To help executives and decision-makers assess the potential impact and value of a CDN solution deployment to the business, this GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a structured assessment of the CDN sector across five factors: benefit, maturity, urgency, impact, and effort. By scoring each factor based on how strongly it compels or deters adoption of a CDN, we provide an overall Sector Adoption Score for CDN of 4 out of 5, with 5 indicating the strongest possible recommendation to adopt. This indicates that the category of solutions is a credible candidate for deployment and worth thoughtful consideration.

The factors contributing to the Sector Adoption Score for CDNs are explained in more detail in the Sector Brief section that follows.

Key Criteria for Evaluating CDN Solutions

Sector Adoption Score







Figure 1. Sector Adoption Score for CDNs

This is the second year that GigaOm has reported on the CDN space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report highlights the capabilities (table stakes, key features, and emerging features) and non-functional requirements (business criteria) for selecting an effective CDN solution. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and products that excel in those capabilities and metrics. Together, these reports provide an overview of the category and its underlying technology, identify leading CDN offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.


The GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a detailed decision framework for IT and executive leadership assessing enterprise technologies. Each report defines relevant functional and non-functional aspects of solutions in a sector. The Key Criteria report informs the GigaOm Radar report, which provides a forward-looking assessment of vendor solutions in the sector.