Jessica Scarpoti over at Tech Target has an article discussing the state of CDN and application delivery. While I had not put a ton of thought into this particular market – CDNs grew into some pretty special-use, high-end items because of their pricing models over a decade ago – it does bear some obvious similarities to cloud, so this is a pretty well thought-out article.

The question that springs to mind for me is “will CDNs remain CDNs?” in the rush to cloud services, CDN providers are a large portion of the way there already, having to have massive distributed networks to do what

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they do efficiently. Global CDNs have touch-point in most geographic locations, if they could load balance them and further automate the services, they would move a very long way toward being cloud providers. And if one starts implementing cloud-like (in this case IaaS-like) services without claiming to be a cloud provider, all will have to follow suit to remain competitive.

And that’s when the division goes away. No matter what you call it, a massively distributed network with IaaS is a cloud provider, regardless of the name they choose to attach to their presence. The interesting bit is that CDN providers have a lot more experience keeping things separate, securing your content, and delivering on five nines or better than your average cloud provider. Which would make such a move highly competitive, since availability and security are two of the biggest things holding back public cloud.

Of course the trend to lower CDN pricing based upon competition would have to continue to the point that your average mid-sized enterprise could afford to start tossing a lot of applications out there before this could have meaning for the enterprise. Of course, since Cloud providers are rapidly catching up in the ability to get your content out there and host servers, some have already reached parity, I see this as inevitable if CDN providers wish to survive.

Sometimes, the wheel does get reinvented – well. 

So when you’re shopping around for cloud or hosting providers, revisit CDNs – you know, the group of providers that you had previously decided was too expensive – and compare their TCO with the TCO and capabilities of your cloud provider before making the leap. You may find that you can save some of your budget in what most of us have long considered a highly unlikely place, and while you’re getting a bargain, you will likely be getting enhanced services too, just so they can keep ahead of the competition.

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