Google Wrecks the CDN Market Last week Google formally launched its Page Speed Service, the latest in a long line of Content Delivery Network (CDN) services from dozens of suppliers from big and small to hit the market over the last 15 years. In the case of Google though, I see a few novel changes that could not only materially affect but outright wreck the marketplace for CDN. Google has offered free CDN services for video, via YouTube and Google Video, for many years now. Although we take YouTube for granted these days, it wasn’t too long ago that posting video on the internet required a lot of time, focus, and money. Life was very complicated before one could shoot a video on a smartphone and automatically upload it to YouTube. A videographer with a high quality camera would have to be hired, the resulting tape would have to be digitized, edited, and encoded (and potentially transcoded into one or more specific proprietary formats), and a streaming video hosting company would have to be found, negotiated with, and a lawyer engaged to review a contract. YouTube and smart phones have cleaned up that mess and made a single elegant process- but it only applies to video. Improving all around performance of a web page is far more difficult than improving it for video. Web pages have become complex multi-lingual beasts with applications, scripts, server side code, client side code, ad networks, database apps, and a myriad of dynamic elements. Accelerating the performance of a web page requires not only a global multi-network deployment of servers, but very advanced server applications to manage and load balance this vast heap of complexity. With servers comes monitoring, network operations, and hardware maintenance- all of which makes for a big and focused operation. In truth, CDNs have always come in two flavors: those who built on a core of services for optimizing performance, and those built on a core of large bit-moving services for optimization of cost. The history of both types has been well documented. Akamai founded the industry, and was designed from the start for optimizing performance. Akamai acquired every CDN that also showed proven technical ability to increase performance. Speedera, Netli, and a few other companies all are now part of Akamai’s core stack of intellectual property and talent. Alongside of Akamai were many companies that were designed to move large files (video and software) but sold on the premise of cost reduction and general outsourcing of content delivery, rather than selling on web page performance optimization. The vast bulk of these CDNs did not succeed, and the industry is littered with the corpses of failed companies and irrationally exuberant venture investment. I call this the “CDN Graveyard” and it contains tombstones with names like Adero, Microcast, Ibeam, Soniccity, Intel Media Services, Axient, and CDN divisions of many telcos. In most cases, their doom was inherent in the very business model, which offered little more than a race to the bottom of a commodity market. The impact of Google’s Page Speed service on the market should be materially more interesting to watch. Google’s Page Speed Service is focused on web page performance optimization. It entices users with a free page speed test very similar to the one we had at Speedera Networks. The various components of the page are analyzed in a ‘before and after’ style comparison. Once the test is run, one can see the entire documentation set, posted publicly, and it shows a very deep CDN offering even at this early stage of product development. URL rewriters, CDN via DNS cname, and cache management are present and instructions are public. Pricing is not yet anounced, but my bet is that it will most likely be a credit card payment system just like Google ads.