Content delivery is one of the most challenging elements of the video distribution chain, not to mention one of the most competitive. And as our world becomes more connected—both vertically as consumers add more connected devices in their homes and corporations become more reliant on the internet for, well, everything, and horizontally, as more content reaches more geographic locations—the content delivery landscape gets more complicated every day.
In response to these challenges, a group of Dutch content delivery industry veterans have founded the CDN Alliance, an industry association dedicated to bringing content delivery networks together to work on common issues and concerns. “The initial idea was not the CDN Alliance, but how we could leverage our knowledge and experience better and train and certify people,” says chairman Mark de Jong, who founded the group along with secretary Thijs de Zoete and treasurer Rico van Laatum. “But who would listen to a few people saying they have the right to certify who is and who is not good at CDN? That is where we thought there should be an independent institution that would be able to say that.”
The CDN Alliance Mission
After consulting with industry leaders, the trio (who have more than 40 years combined experience in content delivery at companies like Jet-Stream, Deutsche Telekom, and Warpache) moved from focusing on training and certification to “connect, support, and represent the CDN industry,” according to a press release. The Alliance separates its overall mission into three parts, says de Jong:
- Connect organizations and people within the global CDN Industry as well as connect the those inside the industry with outside organizations
- Support the organizations and people within the global CDN industry with initiatives and activities that will help grow and strengthen the industry (i.e., work on global CDN industry challenges)
- Represent the global CDN industry by publicly voicing the needs and importance of the global industry (i.e., be the “voice” and “face” of the industry)
The Alliance doesn’t have any members yet, and that’s by design. De Jong says the founders have talked with more than 100 people in the industry, and more than 70 companies, to get suggestions and feedback before launching. “No one is really against it—some want to see first before they join; some are skeptical, which is natural (and good for us as they ask the tough questions to think about),” he says. “We got a lot of positive feedback of people that want to join based on our initial ideas. [We got] very little pushback (you will always get some anyway, but we had very little). We took all that feedback to heart in how we wanted to setup the CDN Alliance.” He adds that the first members have already joined since launch on Wednesday, and the Alliance will start announcing those members soon.
Competitors Working Together
Typically, associations launch with two or three founding members and then others jump in, de Jong says. Given the highly competitive nature of the content delivery industry, the founder wanted to guarantee that the Alliance is seen as independent from the start, rather than unduly influenced by a couple of founding members, de Jong says.
“In an industry association, companies work together on industry challenges that go beyond a single company,” he says. “Competitors compete … but they also want to work on industry challenges as that, in the end, helps them as well. There are also a lot of things in common with those industry players that are not that different, but could be worked on to be optimized (we call those the ‘common denominators’) and that is where best practices can easily be shared to the benefit of the industry (and in the end, the organization that shared the best practices again as well). We focus on what unites the industry, not on what separates it, as we believe that is where the biggest gains can be obtained.”
There’s some overlap with an existing industry association, the Streaming Video Alliance, de Jong says, but of course video is just one aspect of content delivery. “We focus on everything CDN (bit delivery, dynamic delivery, media delivery, security, and edge) and really focus on the CDN ecosystem, not the streaming ecosystem like the SVA does,” he says. “With, for instance, open caching (and some other areas) things come very close, but we see this really more as a natural touchpoint between the two alliances, and on these touchpoints we can actually collaborate and help each other have a bigger impact.”
How to Join the CDN Alliance
Both individuals and organizations can join the alliance by requesting information here. Industry memberships start at €3,000 per year.
Industry members will be able to be able to participate in all CDN Alliance activities, influence and support projects and activities that the CDN Alliance develops; take part in discussion groups, study groups, and working groups; and receive early and extensive access into research, activities, and developments within the CDN Alliance. The group will also offer networking opportunities and job postings.
“We can’t do everything at once, of course, so the priorities of the CDN Alliance on will be driven by its members,” de Jong says.