Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Interview with Ari Benowitz, Bandcon
The content delivery network business has been seeing an upsurge in demand, as more and more companies are looking to deploy bandwidth heavy content such as video and rich media on the Internet. As that demand has increased, so has the number of companies providing content delivery services. To get some insight into the industry, we spoke recently with Ari Benowitz, President and CEO of Bandcon (www.bandcon.com), a Costa Mesa-based provider of content delivery network services. Ari spoke to socalTECH's Ben Kuo, and told us a little bit about the firm and how it fits into the CDN market.
What is Bandcon?
Ari Benowitz: BandCon has a collection of products we lovingly call our Content Delivery System. The products are geared toward supporting applications in the Web 2.0 space, and the infrastructure we put together in a way, was really put together for Web 2.0 sites. That includes colocation, power, a couple of flavors of transit, CDN services, transport services, and management. The big differentiator from a Level 3 or an Equinix or a Limelight, is we bring all these solutions together into a single solution, which doesn't require a web site owner to be married to a particular product. That's a big advantage for web sites as they go through different phases of their lifecycle and maturity, as they utilize different products differently.
Why do people use you, and how to you compete with other CDNs?
Ari Benowitz: All of the big CDNs are big customers of ours--Akamai, Limelight, Vitalstream/Internap, Mirror Image--all are great customers of ours. In return, we're great customers of theirs. Each of those CDNs do something special in the CDN market. For example, a Panther Express might do small objects, a Limelight might do video content really well--part of our solution is that we resell those products, and they're not competition because we are reselling their products.
Do you provide your own service, or are you just reselling others?
Ari Benowitz: We maintain our own services. We've got a national backbone, a 10G backbone in about 25 or so POP locations in the United States. We offer colocation at these facilities, and we also have CDN nodes --what we call off-the-shelf CDN services--which does the heavy lifting for web sites, whether that is Windows Media streaming, or httpd progressive downloads. That's the stuff we consider off the shelf, and where we stay out of that specialty market and work with partners. It's a combination of both.
Why did you start Bandcon, and what's your background?
Ari Benowitz: I started in the Internet in the late 90's -- I started at Primenet, which was purchased by Global Center, which was ultimately acquired by Global Crossing in Phoenix, Arizona. I always liked the Internet and how it worked. Through the dot com bust I was tired of bouncing around to different companies, and really established myself in the industry, and started Bandcon to develop relationships that were less susceptible to companies going under.
How big is the company?
Ari Benowitz: We're just under 20 people and we have about 200 customers. We did about $20M last year and we are incredibly healthy.
Do Web 2.0 customers drive the need for more CDN services?
Ari Benowitz: There are several things going on. First of all, you've got more and more people using the Internet, and speeds are also getting faster. Secondly, web sites are getting more sophisticated--the content is just getting bigger. A few years ago a web site would mostly be text. Now, it's rich media, video, and the amount of data going from A to B is hundreds of times more. When you're in the business of distributing data like content networks are, you see a natural explosion in growth.
It looks like you've done fairly well--why have you guys been successful?
Ari Benowitz: We've been successful because we've been laser focused on this market. It has exploded while we've become really good at it. A good analogy is if you were a very good mortgage loan officer for the past 20 years, and they went through explosion, and were able to be successful. We've been doing this for a long time and have had the infrastructure in place, and we're in the middle of a boom right now. Part 2, most importantly, and what differentiates us, is we look at all of the pieces of content delivery as important to the total solution. Colocation is as important as CDN is, as is important as transit.