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Sharpening the Edge: The Evolution of CDN and Cloud Security

Why CDN Will Explode in the Next Two Years

Two things will happen in the next year that will change CDN this year and next year.

This year, mobile will overtake all landline traffic for the first time. By the end of this year, mobile will be 51% of all traffic. Next year, over-the-top video will overtake broadcast TV, be the first time ever. Those two things, to me, looking at it with my cloud perspective, look just like Apple’s iTunes and iStore and Google’s Android because those were the two things that launched cloud into the stratosphere.

When I look at these two facts, those two facts are what’s going to change CDN and make it explosive over the next couple years. CDN is no longer just CDN, obviously. It’s evolved into a wide range of edge services.

When you say CDN, you’re talking about content delivery. We started off with delivering websites. Then it got into follow downloads. Now you’re doing API delivery and protection. Then we all added WAF and we add DDoS protection. You add all these ancillary services on top. The problem is that most, if not all, of the legacy players are built with an enterprise infrastructure. It’s that triple stack router network architecture. They build silos of servers for services. These hundred servers are for WAF. These hundred services are for DDoS. These hundred services are for this. That’s how they scale. That simply doesn’t scale when you get into cloud-type hyperscale.

Legacy CDN isn’t ready for all of us. So, we’re going to do something completely different. When we look at the world, let’s try to simplify. There are only three types of data origins. You’re either in a public data center, in a private data center, or in a public cloud. That’s where all the data in the world lives. Then, on the other side, you have the consumers who work doing what they shouldn’t be doing. Then you have IoT. Then you have the opportunity to build something in between.

If we believe all the numbers and the research and what’s going on and what’s driving CDN, CDN has gone from something that only the largest media companies in the world used just a few years ago to something that’s so commoditized and so easy to onboard and use now, it’s projected that 70 or 80% of all traffic will be over a CDN somewhere.

If you can get into the middle between the data and the eyeballs, you can protect them. That protection is going to go both ways. Typically, security is thought of as protecting a perimeter. You build a data center, you put up your firewalls, you put up all your tools, and you try to break people from getting in.

Here, you’re protecting the data, the data centers of the world from the eyeballs, and then in reverse you’re protecting the eyeballs of the world from the data centers you’re sending out malicious traffic to unknowingly. We look at the world a little differently. We look at it as building blocks so we started with CDN. We added WAF, we added DDoS, file delivery, logging, predictive analytics. All of those things talk to a centralized core, then we use machine learning and AI so that we can talk back to all those services. So, every single service we deploy is secure in nature. It’s not a service that you add security onto. It’s just a secure service.

Building a Multi-Sided Platform

So, even our CDN is secure, but by building a cloud platform, a two-layer network that’s highly scalable with servers that are fungible to be used for any service, it can autoscale far and wide, so the CDN can autoscale as needed, the WAF can autoscale as needed, the next service that we haven’t thought of yet can autoscale as needed.

Here’s where we think the game changes. We’re creating a multi-sided platform. This fall we release edge compute, edge storage, Secure DNS, and other services and open it up to our customers to build things on the platform, on our platform worldwide. Third-party security companies are going to add tools to this.

I think you’re going to see all kinds of media companies do last-mile dynamic stuff at the edge. You’re going to see a lot of data analytics companies. We’re going to be able to do a lot of forensics at the edge real time. You’re going to see IoT gateways where things like cars and other things can talk to each other and they’re going to be hitting a local pop in the city that’s closest to where those vehicles are and then the unknown.

This is the same position we were in at SoftLayer in 2005. When we created SoftLayer, I could not tell you that Facebook, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Yelp, some of the largest internet properties in the world built on the platform. Some of those industries or verticals didn’t even exist at the time we built the platform.

The platform is what allowed them to build what they did. Here we’re doing the same thing. We're building a security platform at the edge with all these tools and APIs and onboarding, frictionless on-demand, easy to consume, all the things about cloud that enable anyone in the world to come build whatever they want. The first question I always get is, “Well, somebody could build a CDN and compete with you.” Yes, they could. They could build any service that I can build on the platform. The way I look at it, if they build it better than we do then we should lose at that service. So, we’re going to open this up and when we do, I think it's going to be game-changing at the security that hits the internet when this happens.

Secure CDN

Over the last 18 months, we’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of time rebuilding the entire network globally. We did have several acquisitions. We bought Highwinds CDN, MaxCDN, Fireblade WAF, a DDoS company, and some other smaller companies. We’re in every major carrier exchange, revamping the entire network. We have sort of the last mover advantage now. Every single port inside of our network is a hundred gig. Every single server is 25 or 50 gigs or higher. We don’t have the legacy issue of having hundreds of thousands of servers out there that we have to upgrade, that we have to retrofit to make happen. I can do it with a much smaller footprint and much more robust by allowing everything to be fully agile and fully scalable at cloud.

Today, you can go to our website and you can sign up for these services. We call it Secure CDN. We have a full-service CDN with WAF and DDoS included, because we feel like you can’t have that without those two key features.

As we roll the additional features in the next few months, you will see not only features from StackPath proper going out, but you will also see features from all of our customers who come and sign up and build on top of the platform and use that cloud platform at the edge. They’ll also have access to the analytics that we’re taking in that we can feed back to them via API.

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Nathan Moore, Director, Principal Software Engineer, DevOps, StackPath