Content delivery networks, or CDNs, aren't the novelties they used to be, and that's a problem for Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM ) .
The company best known for creating a worldwide network of servers for caching content and applications geographically close to users -- thereby substantially improving upload and download speeds -- is seeing ever more competition. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) has decided to build its own internal CDN, for example.
But there aren't just more competitors to worry about; alternatives are also getting smarter. This week, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and privately held EdgeCast agreed to a deal that could blunt the impact of the search king's earlier deal with Cotendo, which Akamai acquired in December.
EdgeCast says it has been working with Google on PageSpeed over the past year, embedding the technology in servers at the edge of the Web, near users. The resulting improvements allow webmasters to engage in "front-end optimization," or FEO, for loading Web pages and applications faster.
For its part, EdgeCast claims to be the only one to have successfully embedded PageSpeed in such a way that site owners are freed from writing new code in order to get the benefits of a hyperfast pipe. I'll take the company at its word. But let's also remember that Akamai isn't exactly new at the FEO game. There's Cotendo's technology to consider, of course. There's also Blaze.io, an FEO specialist Akamai acquired in February. Akamai will make EdgeCast fight for every win it gets.
Even so, this isn't the first time EdgeCast has caused problems for peers. Last April, the company unveiled a CDN for application delivery and cloud computing that it said helped clients to realize 40% to 250% speed improvements. I'd expect management is after similar numbers this time, too.
And that could hurt Akamai. But if you're really itching to bet against a CDN supplier as a result of this deal, bet against Limelight Networks (Nasdaq: LLNW ) . This would-be giant killer merits just three stars in Motley Fool CAPS because of ongoing losses and slowing revenue growth.
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