BitGravity's New CDN Threatens Akamai and Limelight

Includes: AKAM, LLNW
by: Dan Farber

After months in stealth mode gathering marquee customers, BitGravity officially launched its content delivery network. BitGravity co-founder and CEO Perry Wu claims that his CDN delivers superior service to the incumbents, notably Akamai and Limelight. Companies such as YouTube, Sling Media, Revision 3, Getty Images and the BBC have already signed on as BitGravity customers.

According to Wu, the incumbent networks were designed to handle content like text and photos, while BitGravity was designed from the ground up to handle rich media content. Adding more servers, memory or more datacenters won’t give competitors what they need to compete with BitGravity, he said.

Whatever the case, Akamai and Limelight are facing increasing competition (see Forbes story), and not just from BitGravity.

BitGravity’s platform has been architected for the HD video generation, Wu told me. “We started with a clean sheet of paper,” Wu said. “As we enter this second phase [of content delivery], the [incumbents] won’t stack up with applications that wrap content around interactive experiences and multiple video screens.” He cited the National Football League, Major League Baseball and MTV as developing more immersive, granular and bandwidth intensive applications.

BitGravity’s secret sauce is n its patent pending Bitcast technology, Wu said, including multicast overlay optimization, file replication, real-time video and watermaking. The company is using custom-built hardware, costing between $50,000 and $100,000, and is optimizing a customized BSD Unix kernel to improving the efficiency of moving data from its systems to the “wire,” Wu said.

“With our routing methodology, we know how everything works, how to paste things together and throw out overhead. It improve performance by a factor of four. Every CDN has public and private infrastructure, and additional technology to glue everything together. At the end of the day we have people who understand content delivery end-to-end,” Wu said.
Wu told me that based on internal benchmarks (below), BitGravity is superfast compared to competitors.

Average throughput

BitGravity 91.355

Limelight 29.082

Akamai 1.134

Highest throughput

BitGravity 3102.622

Limelight 555.5847

Akamai 140.531

Content responsiveness (loading the first 200k)

BitGravity 710

Limelight 286

Akamai 27

According to Wu, BitGravity has a less “chatty” routing than competitors, with a more direct and resilient route to deliver content to users. The privately funded company has about 100 employees and is profitable, Wu said.

Now it’s time for some independent benchmarks to see how BitGravity’s claims hold up. At the end of August, Akamai announced it now provides a consistent, HD video experience via its global content distribution network.