For CDN Services, Compare The Product, Not The Companies

The only way to fairly compare any product or service from one provider to another is via a level playing field. Sometimes this can be hard to do. But when it comes to the content delivery networks, for many aspects of their services, it is extremely easy to do, but it seems most don’t want to. I continue to read articles and blog posts and hear from institutional
money managers who are not comparing vendors in the CDN space properly.

Everyone wants to compare one company to another even though most times, the companies involved offer many different services and have cross over with only one product. When that is the case, you can’t compare one company to another, you can only compare that specific product the companies have in common.

There are a lot of examples of how this is being done wrong when it comes to the CDN space. I keep hearing or reading that Panther Express is a competitor to Akamai for video delivery. That’s inaccurate. Panther Express currently supports video delivery by progressive download only, that means content delivered via the http protocol. So yes, Panther Express can compete with Akamai for any customer who wants downloads. But that is not streaming. If you want to stream content in the Windows Media, Flash or Real formats, or want to broadcast something live (webcasting), Panther Express does not support this. It’s not a knock against Panther, they are focused and support one kind of delivery. But is it then fair or accurate to say they compete against Akamai for streaming media delivery? No.

It’s the same thing I hear every day about Limelight Networks and Akamai. Money managers say Akamai did over $400 million in CDN revenue last year and Limelight Networks did over $60 million. No, that is wrong. Akamai offers products and services Limelight Networks does not offer nor wants to offer. Stop comparing the companies as a whole and only compare the one product between the two companies that is similar.

There is really no excuse for all of this confusion in the market. When I point out many of these differences to people, they act all surprised and amazed how I have all this great info. Yet, all of this info I tell them in regards to the differences between the companies is right on the companies websites, in their press releases, and in their marketing materials. Or, you could just ask them. For instance, no where on the Panther Express website do they even use the word "streaming". Kudos to Panther. They don’t pretend they do something they don’t do and they use the proper terminology. Anyone who reads their products page can see very clearly, Panther does not do streaming delivery, only download.

All this info is out there. It’s easy to collect and not very hard to compare one product to another via multiple content delivery networks. I’m happy to continue to give people all the info they want and educate as much as I can, but as more vendors enter the CDN market and more exposure continues to be focused on the CDN space, we need more clarity in the market and a sharing of accurate data and facts, as opposed to statements that are untrue that no one ever questions.

In all aspects of the online video industry there is confusion. But I think more than any other facet of the space, the CDN market has become one of "perception" becoming reality, instead of facts becoming reality. Do we want to be a market that only cares about any info put out there, or instead a market that cares about accurate info? You can’t make informed business decisions off of inaccurate info.