i3D.net’s self-constructed content delivery network

Cover image for CDN blogpost
11 September 2023

With the ever consistent need to deliver data packets as quickly as possible, Content Delivery Networks (CDN) have emerged as important links in the process, especially for high-performance use cases. The potential value of CDNs to the information economy in reducing the distance between where the content is stored compared to its final destination cannot be overstated. Before delving into why i3D.net decided to build its own Content Delivery Network (CDN), let’s take a quick look at the broader context of the CDN landscape. 

Table of Contents

The landscape of CDN: Titans, challengers and market dynamics 

CDNs have become a crucial component of the modern internet we know today. They are designed to deliver content faster for better user experience, efficiency and reducing cost by caching popular content right at the edge. This is achieved by strategically distributing content across a global network of servers, in combination with software that ensures popular content is cached at the right place, with data traveling the shortest possible distance to reach the end-user.  

The market for CDN is dynamic and very competitive, with several key players vying for dominance. These include industry giants such as Cloudflare, Fastly, Akamai and many more, each offering their unique blend of services and technology built around the original premise of a CDN.  

With the global CDN market growing rapidly, we can expect the battle for dominance in the market to continue. Driven by increasing consumption and the file size of digital content as well as the demand for improved user experiences, the CDN market is expected to grow from USD 14.4 billion in 2020 to USD 27.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 14.1% according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. 

The public cloud providers jumped onto CDN opportunities over a decade ago (Amazon launched CloudFront in 2008, and GCP commercialized their CDN, originally built for other Google products in 2015). We’ve been seeing the same trend the other way around with Akamai acquiring a public cloud company (Linode in 2022) as well as their announcement earlier this summer to open new global sites to challenge legacy cloud architecture for cloud computing. 

A growing market dominated by the big public cloud providers of this world, the CDN landscape brings a significant opportunity for smaller, more agile CDN providers to carve out a niche for themselves to stand out by offering personalized, customer-centric solutions.

The strategic move towards a self-constructed CDN 

i3D.net saw the opportunity to leverage its existing infrastructure in over 60 points of presence and expertise with real-time applications and multiplayer games to build its own CDN. Building a CDN from scratch allowed i3D.net to have complete control over the infrastructure stack and autonomy over the entire architecture. Customization was also an added benefit, with i3D.net able to tailor its CDN to specific needs as well as ensuring optimal performance and reliability for its customers. 

This decision allowed i3D.net to commit to building an extremely dispersed and highly available Content Delivery Network worldwide. This was the catalyst for the CDN, that is now serving over a significant portion of users on the i3D.net network on a monthly basis.

Internal efficiency and independence 

i3D.net’s decision to build its own CDN has not only benefited the clients but also internal operations and improved the performance of other services such as the Game Server Orchestrator. By leveraging the CDN for internal usage and tools, i3D.net could bootstrap the product and have it run through extensive operations before launching the CDN as a standalone offering. This has provided i3D.net with even further control over its tools, allowing it to quickly adapt to changing business needs.

“With full control over the entire technology stack, i3D.net can rapidly deploy not only necessary system updates and enhancements, but also automatically mirror any customer’s software across our global network, in milliseconds.” 

With our other products and internal tooling benefiting from the CDN product, we’ve further set forth perfecting it for use cases where our customers were struggling.

A David among Goliaths in the CDN landscape

Despite being a smaller player in the CDN market, i3D.net is a significant stakeholder in the compute resources market where it has carved out a unique niche for itself, focusing on high-performance use cases such as multiplayer games. 

This has allowed the CDN to cater to more general use cases as well as very specific ones when it comes to real-time applications. One of these is game-build distribution, for which the CDN is leveraged in i3D.net’s Game Server Orchestrator. But the CDN also does the exact same for customers who have built their own game online services. The same goes for the download and distribution of game files in consumer storefronts for video games, as in 2023, no one wants to wait for hours on end to download gigabytes’ worth of game updates and download.  

With i3D.net’s expertise in this niche and the fact that its CDN has been built on top of its proprietary global network, ranked second place globally for most adjacencies, i3D.net can leverage its proximity to end users for a more effective solution. In combination with excellence in routing policy efficiency, i3D.net can deliver content with maximum efficiency and minimal latency, ensuring seamless user experience through the CDN. 

How customers reap the benefits of i3D.net’s multifaceted CDN

i3D.net’s CDN does the basic things all the other CDN providers do; deliver content closer to the end-user, protect against DDoS attacks and provide encryption features to safeguard clients’ data and protect their online presence. 

But it also goes a step or two further than this. i3D.net’s strength is the combination of these basic requirements of a CDN with additional services that offer comparable or better performance to that of premium public cloud products, or other competitors. i3D.net has built out a privately owned infrastructure platform in a similar fashion by combining various services to benefit from that scale.  

Customers can combine i3D.net’s services to create a customizable, scalable solution in which they pick the building blocks to build their products on top of the infrastructure products. Leveraging the CDN in conjunction with other services offers significant added value to many of i3D.net’s customers. 

Main Take-Aways

i3D.net’s decision to build its own CDN has not only enhanced the overall service offering but also provided a competitive edge in the market. With i3D.net’s customer-centric approach, innovative solutions and commitment to excellence, the CDN product offers unique value in the otherwise crowded CDN market.