Last week, and after a technical failure of the US cloud service provider Fastly, which shut down thousands of websites around the world, millions of people suddenly discovered the essential role that a handful of companies play in making the internet work. . They are called CDNs or content delivery networks and their main mission is to accelerate the loading times of the webs when they are accessed. An activity dominated by American companies (Akamai, Fastly and Cloudflare, mainly), but where a Spanish company, Transparent Edge Services, also acts as a mobility agent, distributing traffic on the internet to avoid a collapse that is translated, as happened a few years ago. days, in website crashes that leave a large part of the internet without access.
“We are the only Spanish commercial CDN,” says its founder and CEO Jorge Román, who highlights that, although the internet infrastructure “is for the most part in the hands of large US technology companies, there are also smaller European and Spanish companies , like ours, that we are doing very well and that we are working to configure a European technology sector ”.
Román says that they created the CDN in 2014 after detecting a gap in the market. “We saw that, on the one hand, there were premium CDNs, like Akamai’s, very expensive and only accessible to companies with money. Companies like Fastly and Cloudflare were also beginning to appear. And, on the other hand, there were the CDNs low cost, more focused on a more self-sufficient market segment, in which customers had to manage by themselves, without assistance, a complicated technology that required great knowledge to be used ”.
His company, he says, competes with all of them without renouncing the principles with which they were born: to provide a premium service like the big ones, with continuous support and customer service, but at a more affordable price. “Transparent Edge Services has European DNA, with what that implies in terms of values, and because of the type of close relationship and service that we establish with our clients. We launched the CDN that we would have liked to have as a client. We are a boutique CDN, because we are very flexible. In addition, we are known for being very close to the client. We want them to see us as an extension of their technology team, ”he adds.
“Companies can hire several CDNs in case one falls apart, because what happened to Fastly can happen to anyone”
The Transparent Edge Services CDN was born as a product of ServoTIC, a technology company founded in 2008 by Román and his partner Fermín Manzanedo, two former system administrators of Prisa.com, a former business unit of Grupo Prisa. “The germ of the project arose practically there and after working for years for several large European communication groups using the large American CDNs to distribute traffic from the web,” continues the manager, who remarks that they are the only CDN in the market that covers all the value chain, “from your platform of origin to the delivery of content, as we work with companies on their technological strategies.”
Today they are a team of 23 people, they manage more than 2,000 websites and have media such as The Confidential, The Spanish and RTVE and entities such as the Spanish Association Against Cancer. They have servers in 43 data centers in 26 countries. They do not give billing information, but they assure that they have multiplied it by three in the last four years and that they are profitable. Although they assure that they want to continue growing at their lungs – “we do not believe that we have to live off investors for many years as many do. startups”- they do plan to do a financing round of around two million euros for next year and accelerate their growth. “We believe that the time has come to take a new leap in quality,” says Román.
Commercially they only operate in Spain, although they work with some partners in other countries. “We want to go outside, but we have not yet entered that war strong. We plan to do it in a couple of years at the most. At the moment, we opened a technical office in Mexico last month to carry out commercial prospecting ”.
The manager admits that it is not easy to position the brand against the American giants. He says that 30% of the world’s internet traffic passes only through Akamai, “but the important thing is to move forward at a steady pace and we are doing it, although any businessman would like to always go faster.” And he sees a huge market opportunity, “because never before the confinement, where half the world was locked up at home making intensive use of the Internet, was there more evidence of the contribution of CDNs to the proper functioning of the Internet”, which led, between other things, that the value of Fastly and Cloudflare multiplied exponentially in the Stock Market.
Román claims the “key” role played by the CDN. “We are the plumbers of the internet; We are not noticed or seen unless there is a problem, as happened last week, but our role is key in the current digital economy, because if in 2017 56% of internet traffic passed through CDNs to By 2022, that percentage is expected to rise to 72%, according to a Cisco study ”.
“We have opened an office in Mexico to carry out commercial prospecting; we want to internationalize”
The co-founder of Transparent Edge Services recognizes that the Fastly failure represents “an interesting opportunity” to approach other clients, either to be directly their alternative in some clients or to live with them. “Companies can have several CDNs contracted in case one goes down or another, because what happened to Fastly the other day can happen to anyone. In fact, it happened to Cloudflare less than six months ago, and they were also down for a couple of hours, and it happened to us a year and a half ago, although we were only down for a few minutes because we saw it live and came back quickly. With technology these are things that can happen, even if you are very well dimensioned and replicated and redundant, and whoever tells you that they have reliable technology is deceiving you ”.
The businessman says that if companies do not contract more than one CDN it is because doing so slightly increases the technical complexity and maintaining two contracts is more costly, “but, in the end, what they have to do is weigh how much it costs to be down one time and how much does it cost to have one more CDN ”. In this business, companies pay their infrastructure provider based on the traffic it generates. “There is no customer who pays the same.”
At 41, Román is the co-founder of three technology companies (ServoTIC, Transparent CDN and Raipson), which have just been commercially integrated into Transparent Edge Services to make their business lines evolve, which also include cybersecurity, and which, in the midst of the boom in the called Edge computing They have assumed that paradigm, which takes computing to the edge, to the place closest to where the data is generated. “We want to position a single brand and be more oriented towards products (CDN, security solutions and other services that are interesting for cross-selling) without abandoning IT systems consulting, where achieving scale, however, is more complex. We expect to complete the actual merger early next year, when we will launch the capital increase. “