A well-designed network may both be extremely lean and tuned to its purpose, but a well-designed network will also be able to adapt to changes. Many technology stacks are built to embrace all the current options and leave the customer to configure all the required changes. That is tantamount to providing someone with a limited coding language and telling them to get learning.
Immediate value can be created when you can deliver clients what they need in a simple form, but in a way that can be put into service quickly. Long-term value can be created when that system is agile and can evolve with the clients' requirements and the end users demands.
The customer requiring a CDN is often quite confused about what it wants the CDN to do - if you explore the client's requirement in detail. Some clients do think they have a detailed and clear requirement definition, but most will try to describe a detailed solution for an ill-defined problem.
While they will often tell you they need a range of specific key performance indicators, or features, they have almost always lost sight of the fact that what they really want is a good clean end user experience. Understanding and, more important, managing the audience's expectations are paramount.
It is worth noting this as a reason that the industry has generally responded well to a move toward a focus on “quality of experience” and away from SLA and KPI as I touched on earlier.
Returning to “good enough is good enough” all the time will ensure that there is a focus on first and foremost delivering a working and usable solution. Most customers think they want all the latest bells and whistles, but often they overlook the fact that something less racy will actually be more reliable and help them succeed in delivering the content better than the very latest technology.
Expectation management starts on day one. Any CDN that promises anything more than it can certainly deliver will fail on the slightest detailed performance measurement.
With so many variables in action within the typical CDN, it is important to make sure that the client remains aware that the “simple effect” of delivering media to a device is, behind the scenes, immense and complex.
To be sure, if expectations are managed properly, everyone is happy. This may be a little bitter sounding final note, but the most emotionally difficult-to- deal-with result of all the effort of delivering a CDN platform is that when it works it is a thankless task, yet should it fail, the problem is often very high profile.