SVG Europe Sit-Down: Limelight Networks’ Jonathan Smith on CDN expansion, partnership plans and the ‘fickle’ eyeball

"We continue to improve our quality of service": Jonathan Smith, Limelight Networks’ group vice-president and managing director

“We continue to improve our quality of service”: Jonathan Smith, Limelight Networks’ group vice-president and managing director

Established some 15 years ago and based out of Tempe, Arizona, Limelight Networks continues to evolve a global content delivery network (CDN) that allows organisations to deliver their digital content to any device, anywhere in the world. As sports content is pushed to an increasingly diverse range of platforms, Limelight Networks has achieved significant traction in this area of the market, helping producers new and established to raise their sights even further.

As 2016 draws to a close, SVG Europe sat down with Jonathan Smith – who is Limelight Networks’ group vice-president and managing director – to discuss another year of dramatic progress, the changing expectations of a global CDN, and why partnership is expected to figure prominently in the company’s 2017 activities..

What are your thoughts looking back on 2016?

We have achieved some massive growth in our network this year, adding more terabits and POPS in order to deal with the demand. We have also responded to customer requirements in terms of latency and scalability. Obviously when you are working with broadcasters, low latency and speed are absolutely critical. The eyeball is fickle and will move between Netflix, Amazon and other providers, so you have to ensure that you can provide the fastest possible solution and service to the customer and the eyeball. Hence we continue to improve our quality of service, add more capacity and ensure that our customers are at the forefront of everything we do.

Geographically, where are you seeing the greatest uplift at present?

The big demographic spikes are in North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA, with an increase in capacity being particular notable on the West Coast of the US. Limelight has seen significant growth in our UK capacity, where I think that shows like The Grand Tour [the forthcoming Jeremy Clarkson-fronted motoring programme for Amazon Prime] are going to be huge internet sensations.  Elsewhere in Europe I would highlight recent expansion in Spain, Italy, Holland and Germany. Then in the Middle East we are seeing strong demand in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, whilst Turkey is also proving to be an interesting market for us.

One of the big challenges we face every day is watching the network and seeing how fast everyone is being served and making sure that we respond to sudden spikes. For example, if we see a dramatic spike in Amsterdam we can push traffic to Vienna to provide the necessary headroom and make sure we deliver the best possible service without customer degradation.

What is the latest news with regard to the world of sports broadcasting?

We are certainly seeing more interest from football clubs and federations who require help with their streams, VOD and OTT players. There is definitely a growing awareness of what a CDN can offer them when it comes to distributing more and more video content. And this is something that I expect to intensify further in 2017.

Speaking of next year, what do you expect to be the other key developments for Limelight Networks?

I expect there to be more partnerships with other network service providers particularly in Eastern European countries. To date I don’t believe that we have pushed far enough into markets such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Ukraine. Conversations are taking place and I expect 2017 to be a major year in terms of creating partnerships with other suppliers and delivering a global reach to territories not currently benefiting from such capacity.

In terms of sports we will continue to offer as smooth a service as possible to our growing list of clients.

Finally, how important is a show like IBC to expanding Limelight Networks’ global reach?

I absolutely love IBC and it is definitely the place to meet existing customers and prospective new ones. In fact, we are already in negotiation about having presence in a different hall and it is clear that the show will continue to be fundamental to us and what we do in the broadcast and media markets.

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