Watch out, big CDNs: OnApp and its federation are coming for your resellers

OnApp is quietly amassing extensive cloud resources around the world, and without having to build out its own infrastructure. OnApp’s game involves federating the spare resources of hosting providers and telcos who want to get into the cloud, and right now it’s making a particular push on the content delivery network (CDN) front, having recently launched its own brand in order to sell capacity to web businesses.
Now, can’t quite rival the likes of Akamai(s akam), Limelight(s llnw) or Level3(s lvlt) in terms of points of presence (PoPs): OnApp’s federation includes just over 150 PoPs, whereas Akamai, for example, has around 1,200 (also, itself has launched with just 30 PoPs, although it says more can be added according to demand). However, its services are flexible and available on a pay-per-use basis, allowing it to target smaller businesses rather than blue-chip customers.
And now London-based OnApp is taking on the big CDN players by gunning for their resellers.


It’s doing so by essentially giving those resellers a CDN business-in-a-box. OnApp has “open-sourced” the tools used to build, so now service providers – whether or not they are currently in OnApp’s federation, such as PEER1 and UK2 are – can roll out their own rival. The package contains a customer portal, configuration and reporting tools and billing functionality, and it will be available to providers for a usage-derived monthly fee with no long-term contract and no minimum bandwidth commitments.
According to OnApp Federation managing director Stuart Simms, flexibility is again the key here, as service providers can use the ready-made storefront to sell specialized CDN services. What’s more, he promised, OnApp is promising greater profitability than the Akamais and Level3s of this world can offer:

“The OnApp federation is a diverse community of service providers, and now there’s an easy way to tap into that rich resource, and create unique CDN services based on whatever attributes are important to you and your customers — location, speed, quality and more. You can build CDNs across a handful of locations, or across the world; offer more attractive pricing for end users; and still get more margin than you would from legacy vendors, who have to recoup the cost of the entire network.”

Remember that CDN is only part of OnApp’s strategy: storage is another big piece, and compute capacity is coming up too. So this “instant CDN” package, as OnApp calls it, is a model for other virtual service provider packages that will come out later this year.

New entrants

The key here is that these packages are no longer restricted to those service providers who were already offering up their data center resources to be sliced and diced in OnApp’s federation. Now those resources can be exploited by entirely virtual service providers who have no physical infrastructure of their own to offer, but who are willing to pay those fees to OnApp and, in turn, the real infrastructure owners who are making this all possible.
Back to Simms:

“Opening up the federation is the next phase in its growth. It’s great news for our customers, because it’ll drive more traffic for the companies supplying the federation. It’s great news for other service providers, who can take advantage of our CDN service alongside their existing services.
“We’ll see other companies using the network too — technology companies who have struggled with the capital expense of building their own network, who can now focus on innovation. We’ve created a launch pad and channel for business applications, games, social media apps, app stores and all kinds of innovative new services that need global performance and reach, out of the box.”

OnApp said this week that it has almost 600 service provider customers in 68 countries, who are all running clouds based on the company’s orchestration software (which was how OnApp first created its federation). The firm claims this makes it “the most widely used public cloud platform on the market today”.
Of course, this scale doesn’t translate directly into PoPs, and those contemplating reselling OnApp’s CDN are still going to get more reach from Akamai, Limelight et al. However, for a lot of providers – both real and wannabe virtual – OnApp’s terms may prove mightily tempting.