Akamai Offers CDN Aid to Cable
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
Seeking to leverage the software technology that it recently inherited from Verivue, Akamai Technologies Inc. is pitching two new content delivery network (CDN) products to North American cable operators and other pay TV providers. (See
Akamai, a leading CDN vendor that bought software specialist Verivue for a reported $30.9 million in cash late last year, is targeting larger MSOs that are either developing their own CDNs or seeking to piggyback on the Akamai cloud. One product, Aura Lumen, is aimed at that first group while the second offering, Aura Spectra, is aimed at the latter group. Akamai will be demonstrating both products at next month’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C.
“North American cable is a big focus for us,” says Frank Childs, director of product marketing for the company’s Aura Network Solutions product family. “We are focused mostly on the larger Tier-I and Tier-II operators.”
Akamai executives are looking to make inroads among cable operators as they plunge deeper into the still-emerging multiscreen video market by extending their linear and on-demand programming to tablets, smart TVs, game consoles, smartphones and other video-enabled devices both inside and outside subscribers’ homes. They’re hoping to carve out 20 percent to 30 percent of the multi-screen video market, which they expect to reach $1 billion by 2018, based on their own and research firm estimates.
“Cable’s very interesting for us in that space,” Childs says. “We think multiscreen is a great way to get into that market.”
In the CDN space, Akamai competes against such other major players as Limelight Networks and Alcatel-Lucent. But Akamai executives figure they can make strides against their rivals by offering cable operations substantial savings on their content distribution costs. “We think we’ll produce tens of millions of dollars in savings for the operators,” Childs says.
Akamai’s first new offering, Aura Lumen, is a licensed CDN product that draws upon a software suite based on Verivue technology. Designed to run on standard off-the-shelf hardware or pre-approved virtual machine environments, the software provides HTTP caching and delivery for MSO content, customer content and over-the-top (OTT) content. It also provides a request router that maps user requests to the best available CDN node and an intercept service that supports caching and offload of OTT content.
The other new cable-oriented offering, Aura Spectra, takes more of a turnkey approach to the content delivery space. Managed and operated by Akamai, it allows cable operators to run dedicated services over the vendor’s CDN servers, rather than their own delivery networks. It also provides some special benefits, such as Web acceleration, that Akamai offers over its own CDNs.
Besides these two new products, Akamai is also promoting a “federated” CDN offering that would allow cable operators to team up for one large, even national CDN. Such an approach would enable MSOs to distribute content “off-net” over Akamai’s platform and go head-to-head with OTT providers if they so chose.
No MSOs have decided to take the OTT route themselves just yet. But many industry experts think that day is coming and are placing bets on which large cable operator will go over-the-top first.
Akamai has not announced any new cable customers since buying out Verivue six months ago. Verivue, which had Comcast and Arris as two key financial backers, counted Cox Communications and Charter Communications as two of its biggest MSO customers.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light