Limelight’s Network Outage Shows The Importance Of Third-Party Performance Benchmarks

About two weeks ago, on Thursday July 17th, Limelight Networks suffered a major outage of their network that for some, measured 76 minutes of downtime. I got multiple calls from customers about the outage and Cedexis, a company that provides performance measurements from the standpoint of end users around the world, discussed the details of the outage on their blog. While they didn’t name the CDN, it was Limelight Networks, and the outage was so widespread that Cedexis said, “Little to no traffic was being passed at this time from this CDN. If this were a storm in the Atlantic it would get a name.” For a breakdown on the outage, visit the Cedexis blog post.

It’s a shame that Limelight had such a major outage, considering they are once again trying to get customers to think of them when it comes to being a reliable CDN with good performance. However the bigger point is not that CDNs have downtime but rather that when it comes to customers measuring performance amongst CDNs, it is crucial that they use a third-party service that takes real user measurements (RUM). On the day of the outage, Cedexis collected more than 2 billion measurements across 40,000 networks and 100 cloud and CDN providers worldwide. This type of measurement data is crucial for content owners, especially the large ones, who use a multi-CDN strategy and want to load balance amongst CDNs based on real performance data, from actual end users.

Cedexis has a platform that many content owners now use, called Cedexis Openmix, that allows them to improve the availability, latency and throughput of their content, website and mobile apps. It allows them to dynamically ingest this real user measurement data as a way to allow content owners to load balance across multiple CDNs and avoid outages. In addition to content owners, all of the CDNs now use Cedexis to compare their performance against their competitors and some even use Cedexis performance data in their service level agreements (SLA) with customers. While Cedexis may not be known by many outside of the infrastructure market, the company is quickly becoming part of the fabric of the CDN ecosystem and I would argue, the most important piece. If you can’t measure your performance, for any service, then you don’t really know what you are paying for and what you are getting in return.

More and more customers I talk to, especially the larger ones that CDNs would define as enterprise, are now using Cedexis. Founded in 2009 by two Akamai veterans, Cedexis is really starting to gain traction in the market and while they aren’t as big as Gomez, Catchpoint or Keynote, they are much more focused and have much better insight into what’s really taking place on the Internet. Gomez, Catchpoint and Keynote aren’t inside the last mile networks, don’t have buy in from cloud, backbone and infrastructure providers and take only a small number of real user measurements per day. They can’t truly compare network performance amongst CDN and cloud providers and Cedexis providers far superior data and analytics to what others offer.

If I had to make a list of the top five hottest companies right now, Cedexis would be at the top of the list. Not only because of what they are doing, and how important it is to the market, but also because they share so much of the data – for free. You can look at the results of a few of their measurements taken over the last 24 hour period here and more data is available within their free benchmarking community, which you can sign up for on this page. It’s only a matter of time before someone in the market acquires them and makes their data and methodology part of a larger platform of web performance monitoring.

Cedexis did a recent presentation at the Content Delivery Summit in May and has a really good slide deck you can download, with lots of details on how they measure, what they measure and their methodology. You can also see a video of that presentation below.