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The Taxonomy of the WPO/WCO Market

The slides for Joshua Bixby’s presentation at the London Web Performance Meetup are up now on Slideshare and are well worth a read.

I want to focus on one area of Josh’s presentation, particularly since it was an area that I asked him to include in the presentation, and that is “The structure (taxonomy) of the WPO/WCO market”.

Across the pond here in the UK we don’t always get to hear about the new players in the market nor always understand where they might fit in to the growing ecosystem around web performance. 

Josh lives in that market, knows most of the players, attends the trade shows etc so I was keen to get his opinion on how he thinks it all fits together. I urge you to read Josh’s presentation in its entirety but I wanted to pull out some bits to hopefully stimulate some debate and get some other opinions from the WPO community.

Firstly, Josh’s taxonomy has two Kingdoms that represent a fundamental divide between “Delivery” and “Transformation” – between those solutions that do (or don’t) “touch your stuff on the way past”. Josh puts it this way…


Historically the “Delivery” community were quite strident in declaring that “we don’t mess with your content/pages/stuff” since at the time that was a way of reducing the fear many site owners had about letting 3rd parties (e.g. CDN’s) near their content.

But as the WPO movement has developed we have seen the rise of the “Transformation” providers such as Strangeloop or Aptimize who say that “the only way to make it truly faster is to optimise it by transformation”.

Josh divides the Delivery market into 2 major phylum's (“Load-balancers” and “CDN’s”) and one miscellaneous phylum of “other stuff”.


You’ll recognise the players in the next slide that further breaks it down into different Classes within the major phyla.


So, what about the “Transformation” market?

Well, here we have 3 major phylum’s, based mainly one the location of the transformation service – at the server (e.g. Aptimize), network (e.g. Strangeloop) or “in the cloud” (e.g. Acceloweb, now part of Limelight).


As you can see from below the “cloud” space has a lot of players at the moment, most of whom Joshua places in the “beta” category. You could just has easily placed them in the “hype” category but hopefully some of them will mature into decent products, not least for the commodity, low-end of the market.


So? What do you think of this taxonomy?

Has Joshua used the right characteristics to segment the market?

Should there be more Kingdom’s that just “Delivery” versus “Transformation”?

Are there some major players missing off the list? Where would you put them in the taxonomy?

And the final question – where is the market going? (That’s one topic I will tackle in a later post on the economics of WPO as a follow up to my earlier post on “Web Performance is not just for Christmas”).

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