If taking potshots at enterprise CDNs seems like shooting fish in a barrel during these tough economic times, consider the nutritional value of the dead fish.
Content delivery networks inside an organizations firewall may not be ready for prime time, but in the not-too-distant future, they will likely provide the productivity increase and corresponding improved competitiveness that senior managers crave. IT can play a role in significantly improving network performance by looking at ways to facilitate e-learning and streaming rich media services inside the firewall.
At the Content Networking Event, held in San Jose, Calif., in December (events.stardust.com/cdn), outsourcers and content network vendors showed a variety of wares, many of which touted improvements in performance, both for Web servers and for servers tagged internal use.
Based on the products I saw, from companies such as Venation and Ejasent, IT managers have a small but growing array of performance- improving products and services at their disposal. Aside from the question of buy or build, the key point is: Does it improve the bottom line? In most cases, the answer is a qualified yes.
It doesnt take rocket science to figure out the savings of providing sales training over the network. But making sure the corporate IT infrastructure is up to handling this kind of task means implementing management and monitoring packages that improve traditional network services such as e-mail and file transfer.
IT managers should also be thinking about the intricacies of a CDN. For example, can the CDN handle multiple applications, including voice and A/V feeds? Is content authoring easy enough for a layperson to use? Is the right amount of storage and intelligent routing in place to make sure information gets where it needs to go?
CDNs gestational period is turning out to be more like an elephants (years) than like a rabbits (days). Even so, now is the time for managers to decide to lay the necessary IT groundwork that will ensure that user productivity and business objectives differentiate the company in tough times.
Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.