Lately, there has been a lot of debate in the CDN industry as to whether or not a federated CDN model will take hold amongst independent operators. Today, EdgeCast announced that multiple operators and service providers are already exchanging production traffic, via a federated model, using their OpenCDN platform.
For those not familiar with the term, federated CDN is used to describe the idea of carriers and telcos getting together to connect their CDNs with one another, thereby creating a "federation" of content delivery networks. These carriers and telcos would trade traffic across their private CDNs, with the idea of trying to bypass service based content delivery networks.
While many people have different opinions on whether or not carriers would want to work with one another, EdgeCast says it's already happening. Operators who are exchanging traffic in the federation don't want to be mentioned by name, but I can say that there are already "multiple operators" exchanging traffic in North America, Europe and Asia and they are paying each other via business agreements. No carrier wants to talk specific traffic volume on their own network, but I can say that combined, these operators are already pushing tens of Gbps via the CDN federation.
And it's not just video content these operators are pushing across each others networks. When people hear federated CDN they tend to think of just video, but these operators are exchanging all kinds of different web content including small objects, game downloads and http adaptive streaming. Many argue against the federated CDN model working because they say carriers compete with one another, but that's not usually the case since the majority of carriers are regional, not global.
In addition to exchanging traffic, these operators are also exchanging money with one another when they send each other traffic. EdgeCast's software allows the operators using it to manage the traffic exchange amongst networks and the operators are compensated based on individual bilateral interconnect contracts with each other, not with EdgeCast.
For those skeptical about whether or not CDN federation will happen, it's already taking place, not in a lab, but in the real-world. To what degree federated CDN takes hold, how fast it happens and amongst how many operators, we still don't know. But it is the future of the CDN business and we're starting to see it today.
The business and technology of federated CDN is something we 're going to talk a lot about at the Content Delivery Summit on May 14th in NYC and we'll have presentations and discussion on this topic including: "The Business of CDN Federation", "Federation Amongst Operator Based CDNs", and "Lessons From Phase Two of the CDN Federation Pilot".