Content delivery networks (CDNs) needs a representative body, according to a new group. However, on the launch day of that group, no CDNs have actually joined it.

CDNs speed performance at the Edge of the Internet, and have experienced a series of embarrassing failures recently, making Internet users and businesses more aware of their importance. Today, three businessmen in the Netherlands have announced the CDN Alliance, a body that aims to become "the face and the voice of the CDN Industry." But the non-profit organization's Alliance launch announcement reveals the Alliance has no actual members yet.

CDN Alliance logo.png
– CDN Alliance

CDNs sit between Internet users and the content providers, caching it locally so users get it more quickly, and filtering user requests so services aren't overwhelmed by denial of service attacks. The Alliance says more than 50 percent of today’s Internet traffic is handled by CDNs - and the sector has recently come to prominence because of visible outages at leading CDNs, Akamai, Cloudflare, and Fastly.

“CDNs are making sure the internet remains a safe, scalable, fast, and reliable place for businesses and people to use,” says Mark de Jong, who is CEO of Axello, a media consulting company, and now chairman of the CDN Alliance. “Without the use of CDNs and the related CDN technologies, the Internet as we know it today, would not exist.”

The Alliance believes CDNs need a voice to explain and cover challenges such as standards, availability, scalability, reliability, privacy, security, sustainability, interoperability, education, certification, and regulations: "These industry-wide topics need to have a centralized industry organization."

As well as de Jong, the Alliance consists of Thijs de Zoete, and Rico van Laatum, both of whom work at content-delivery businesses. They had the idea over coffee in July 2020, and incorporated the Alliance in April 2021.

Where are the members?

Launching a group with no members is unusual to say the least (we've never heard of it happening in the industry before), but de Jong explained it thus in a conversation with DCD: "Typically, two or three big companies start an industry association and then others jump in. Because of the history and current state of the CDN industry and based on all the feedback we got (70 companies, 100+ people we spoke with), we decided not to hook up with a few founding members, but instead get the CDN Alliance started without any active members. This ensures that the CDN Alliance is seen as independent and not colored by one or more members from the start. Every potential member will have the same starting point in becoming a member, and we ensure our independence."

Members can now join, at a rate starting at $3,000 per annum: "All members that will join the CDN Alliance before the end of the year will be seen as ‘founding members’ of the CDN Alliance, so it definitely will make sense for members to join before the end of the year.

"We already have a list of potential people that have indicated they want to join the team," he told DCD. "The CDN Industry and CDN Community had no place where people could actively participate, but a lot of people actually want to."

Membership is open to organizations in the ecosystem that work with CDN services, as well as CDNs such as Akamai, Cloudflare, and Fastly. Actual membership fees will vary according to the size and type of the member. CDN Alliance has not published any scales or tiers like the "Gold" and "Platinum" memberships common in other organizations, but de Jong promised more details "in the near future."

CDN's uptime is "amazingly high"

De Jong is keen to begin the advocacy role right away, explaining to DCD that recent outages do not represent a failure by the industry: "There were a number of outages - correct - and unfortunately in a row from different players which has not happened before," he said. "But that it happened for the first time does not mean it is a trend, and that unfortunately is (wrongly) portrayed by the press."

In context, CDNs perform well, he said: "If you look at for instance the track record of uptime of Akamai in relation to the outages during its existence (and total time offline, which was also only a part of the network anyway), the uptime is still amazingly high."

In future, CDN Alliance will aim to educate the media about CDNs: "A lot of how the information has been shared by the press is based on a lack of understanding, not being able to get/find the right information, getting it from the wrong sources, and so on. There is a role to be played for the CDN Alliance to better educate the press, giving access to the right information and make them (and the public) aware, if the information is not presented the right way."

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