Cisco says CDN strategy not proprietary

At the Hong Kong launch of Cisco’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) line of products, Cheng Wu, vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s Content Switching Technologies Business Unit said Cisco’s efforts to create industry wide standards for emerging CDN technologies was not designed to cut other vendors out of the market.

CDNs allow service providers to distribute Internet content across different IP networks in a way that overcome such issues as network bandwidth availability, distance or latency obstacles, and congestion issues during peak periods, according to Wu.

Recently Nortel Networks officials have accused Cisco of seeking to use an industry standards group to further their own marketing ends.

These complaints centre on the Content Alliance, a 26-member focus group established by Cisco in August. The group was founded to define standards for the emerging CDN technologies, particularly on the issue of content peering protocol.

“Content peering protocol (refers to) when networks that are independently built they need to exchange traffic they ‘peer’ with each other, to regulate how traffic can be transferred from one network to another. The purpose of the Content Alliance is to speed up the definitions process for content peering protocols and everybody should participate in it and we have not taken any position to exclude anybody,” Wu said.

Other CDN Vendors formed the Content Bridge – with the same aim as Content Alliance – back in April, said Selina Lo, vice-president of marketing and product development at Nortel. The difference between the two, Lo said, was that the Content Alliance is defining a standard for Cisco products only.

“(The Content Alliance) is absolutely a closed, proprietary Cisco-boosting organization,” Lo said. “If Cisco wants the Content Alliance to be successful, its got to be a little less obvious about this self-serving interest,” she said.

Wu dismissed that sentiment by pointing to the membership of Content Alliance. “I should point out that within the Content Alliance there are a number of cache server vendors, a number of people providing CDN services, a number of people who do content publishing, and a number of networking companies as well. So far, Nortel, in particular, has not asked us whether or not they could join, but companies like Novell have asked us and have been given permission to join. Cisco doesn’t control the admission of vendors, we don’t

have strings attached (to those that join),” he said, adding that there will be no proprietary protocols solely for Cisco products emerging from the alliance.

The standoff is likely to negatively effect the emerging CDN industry if it is not addressed soon, Wu said. “We have no particular advantage. But if the standards are not established as the CDNs come out, then no one is going to succeed,” Wu said. “The content that one CDN can deliver will be invisible to another network unless the standards are established. This absolutely crucial.”