How To Quantify The Value Of Your CDN Services

As mobile applications become more sophisticated, many congestion points have been identified which have given rise to a number of specialized solutions to resolve them. The primary solution for working around Internet congestion and slow-downs has long been the edge delivery and caching provided by content delivery networks. But those tactics have become commoditized, with asset delivery performance becoming table stakes delivered as a service. As a result, vendors have been working hard to offer true performance solutions, outside of storage, large software download and streaming video delivery services.

Over the past few years, the CDN market has spawned a number of specialty solutions to overcome specific challenges in the form of video streaming, web security, and dynamic applications. It has been well documented that web and mobile application performance is critical for e-commerce companies to achieve maximum transaction conversions. In today’s e-commerce landscape, where even milliseconds of latency can impact business performance, high CDN performance isn’t a nice to have, it’s a must have. But the tradeoffs have led to a polarizing effect between business units and the IT teams that support them. Modern marketers and e-commerce practitioners focus on engaging users with third-party content in the form of social media integration, localized reviews, trust icons and more, all of which need to perform flawlessly across a range of devices and form factors to keep users focused, engaged and loyal. The legacy attitude of one-size-fits-all for a CDN has become outdated as businesses seek out best-of-breed solutions to keep them competitive and to drive top-line growth. This is one of the main reasons why many customers have a multi-CDN strategy, where they might use one CDN specifically for video streaming, but another for mobile content acceleration.

One of the primary challenges in all of this is in arriving at measurable proof of the business impact. Historically, it has been extremely hard for e-retailers to quickly analyze the effectiveness of the solutions they’ve put in place to help drive web performance. Enterprise IT departments often find it difficult, if not impossible, to prove the benefit that their efforts have on customer satisfaction and top-line growth because analytic tools have historically been siloed by business specialties – IT has Application Performance Management (APM) tools and the business units have business analytics solutions. Whereas marketing and e-commerce teams have a variety of A/B testing solutions at their disposal, the IT team often struggles to show measurable business improvements.

Last week, adaptive CDN vendor Yottaa unveiled a new A/B testing methodology called ValidateIT that enables enterprises to easily and instantly demonstrate business value from their CDNs and other web performance optimization investments. Yottaa developed the methodology in 2013 and has been using it successfully with many of its customers since then. Through ValidateIT, enterprises can predictably and accurately split traffic in real-time, allowing them to verify the immediate and long-term business benefits of optimizing their web applications. As the first vendor in this market that I know of to offer this type of methodology, Yottaa is enabling enterprises to make an informed and confident buying decision by demonstrating the business value of web application optimization

But Yottaa and its customers are not the only ones to have “validated” ValidateIT, the methodology has also earned a certification from Iterate Studio, a company that specializes in bringing business-changing technologies to large enterprises. Iterate Studio curates, validates and combines differentiated technologies that have repeatedly delivered positive and verifiable business impact across a broad set of metrics. Working together with customers, Yottaa applies the ValidateIT methodology to split, instrument and measure web traffic using trusted third-party business analytic tools. The important aspects of the methodology include:

  • Control over the flow of visitor traffic. Yottaa typically splits traffic 50/50 in proof-of-concept scenarios to highlight the benefit their technology is having over an existing solution. In head-to-head “bake-off” scenarios, Yottaa can split the traffic into thirds or more, depending upon the competition.
  • Conducting a live, simultaneous A/B test. Online businesses frequently say that it’s impossible to accurately compare two different time periods to one another because of the variables that would impact the results. Campaigns, seasonality, breaking news and events, and any number of competing factors can influence visitor behavior. So Yottaa ensures that ValidateIT highlights the business-impacting results of their solution in real-time by arbitrarily sending visitors to the incumbent solution and the Yottaa (and possibly other competing vendors’) optimized solution and then measuring the results. This eliminates objections with regard to performance versus content or campaigns, as arguably all things are equal but the web performance optimization techniques applied to the visitor sessions.
  • Leverage in-place third-party analytics solutions. IT vendors have attempted to bring proprietary business analytics to market, but Yottaa felt it was important to lean on the business analytics solutions companies already use to ensure a credible test and validation. Plus, by using existing business analytics, marketing, e-commerce and IT leaders can leverage any existing custom metrics, analysis methodologies, and reports to drill-down into the details.

The most legitimate use case for Yottaa’s solution is that you don’t know whether your one-size-fits-all CDN solution is right for you or whether you need a specialty CDN until you actually measure, evaluate and analyze the results. That’s the reason for and beauty of ValidateIT and why the company offers it at no cost. It’s free as part of their solution validation process because they want 100% of companies to better understand which solutions in the market truly work versus one’s that don’t. It’s a nice tool to arm enterprise buyers with to show them the real business benefit vs. relying on a blue-chip logo.