Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM, news, filings) won a big victory from the carrier world this morning, announcing a strategic alliance with none other than AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings). The two will be combining AT&T’s global IP network portfolio with Akamai’s CDN platform in a jointly marketed, managed, and supported suite of solutions. They’ll be starting out in North America, with expansion worldwide to follow within a year.
AT&T’s content delivery journey has been a long one. Three years ago, they were busy rolling their own. Since then they’ve been working with partners on a hybrid solution, with EdgeCast being the unannounced party there. Now it seems they’ve decided to go with the best-of-breed approach while focusing on their traditional strengths, with EdgeCast or whoever their previous partner was being the odd man out.
Akamai will be deploying CDN servers at AT&T’s IP network edge and within its facilities around the US. AT&T will take its existing CDN operations, customers, and services and put it onto the Akamai platform during 2013. Sounds like they have finally made up their mind and decided to unify their various other approaches, although I look forward to additional color on that.
The alliance will give both AT&T and Akamai the tools necessary to take on Level 3′s dual network/CDN approach without the networking giant needing to scale its CDN from scratch and without the latter needing to acquire actual physical network assets. Akamai will gain access to AT&T’s global enterprise customer lists, and AT&T will be able to better optimize its network cost structure by directly working with the largest CDN.
This could be a major shift in the CDN market if they manage to make this alliance work, but there will probably be a culture clash to get over first. One wonders though if an eventual merger of the two might be the end result if things go well.