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Dmitriy Akulov is a well-known web entrepreneur and developer of many free and open-source projects. He is the founder of jsDelivr, appfleet, and Prospect One studio that created DNSPerf, CDNPerf, and PerfOps.
Deep expertise in the CDN, DNS, and cloud industries helped him build complex and sought-after web services. For instance, an infrastructure serving 100+ billion HTTP and DNS queries per month.
At the beginning of 2022, Dmitriy joined Gcore as a director of the Edge Network platform. We asked Dmitriy about the milestones of his brilliant career, modern and future web, and conquering the market together with the Gcore team.
How did the idea for jsDelivr come about, and what has made it successful and popular among web developers?
I started building it 10 years ago when the open-source landscape was very different. Node.js and npm didn’t exist yet, and GitHub was just starting to become a thing. Most developers didn’t have an easy way to provide their files to their users. It was often required to download a ZIP file of the full source codebase and then find and extract the compiled version, which you then needed to upload to a web server to use online. And the developers that actually provided online ready-to-use versions of their files often had to take them down and break them because of the overwhelming traffic they received. I wrote the first version of the website and backend myself, and after contacting many CDN providers, I was ready to launch after a small CDN company decided to help me out.
Today jsDelivr is a complex product with many dynamic parts like on-the-fly minification, file combination, automatic version upgrades, and many others.
How did the idea for CDNPerf come about?
Back then, the standard for CDN performance ranking was the Cedexis data. Unfortunately, it wasn’t freely available to everyone, and it was quite problematic. For example, they didn’t have weighting per country, so if they collected most of their RUM performance data in France, it would skew the global data. This meant that if a CDN provider had a bad experience, it unfairly dropped their European and global rankings.
So, I decided I wanted to fix both issues simultaneously: build a reliable tool with accurate data and make them public and available to all. It also looked like a fun problem to solve, so it was an incredibly interesting project I was very excited about.
What web development trends in terms of performance would you point out? What is the market direction and future?
Web performance is becoming critically important every year. Google is already using webpage speed as a ranking factor, and there are a lot of research papers proving that every millisecond delay directly translates to lost revenue.
Fortunately, dev tools—both open-source and commercial—have caught up to this. Popular frontend frameworks have started taking performance into account and advertising it as a major feature.
And the ones that still don’t realize this are losing their users fast to newer frameworks that prioritize lightweight and fast applications.
Some new projects go even further and directly integrate edge computing functionality to simplify app deployment and development process of applications that run directly on the edge.
Given the total commoditization of these services, how do you compete in the global CDN/streaming/cloud markets? Design an ideal user experience? Offer some add-on services for free? Anything else?
Traditional CDNs and hosting will have a hard time growing if they insist on simply serving traffic or providing basic hosting services. The price of bandwidth and servers keeps going down, and the competition keeps innovating.
To compete and stay relevant, you need to keep innovating and releasing new features tightly integrated into your product offering. CDNs must become edge app hosting platforms to allow users to run their code on the edge and process everything, not just static content.
Cloud providers will need to simplify and automate their services while still adding more and more managed features.
Developers will always prefer a cloud platform that allows them to solve their problems quickly without thinking too much about the infrastructure and global performance. There are many ways to make this happen, and the companies that realize it and build the solution that matches the needs of the modern enterprise will succeed.
Why did you decide to join Gcore? What key advantages of our company would you point out?
Gcore is in a unique position that many others would envy. It’s big enough to have all the resources needed to build new and innovative products, but at the same time, small enough to stay flexible, move fast, and quickly adapt to new market trends as needed.
As a Product Director, this means that I have both the freedom and resources to build exciting and interesting products—something that is not possible at smaller startups or big enterprises.
This combination, along with a team of visionary individuals, puts Gcore on a hyper-scale path that I believe will make the company a global industry leader in a few years.
How do you plan to develop your business part at Gcore? Tell us about your vision of the Edge Network platform. How will it differ from Cloudflare, Imperva, and other leading platforms?
Gcore is an established company with a huge global infrastructure and resources. My goal is to transform our existing standalone CDN and DNS products into an edge web acceleration and security platform that highlights our global performance and makes it easy for anyone to benefit from it—from free users with personal side-projects to small businesses, all the way to big enterprises.
Each backend feature should become a building block to create new and innovative products that will tightly integrate into the existing platform—from edge computing to image processing and simple file delivery.
At the same time, I want to establish a developer-first approach and build a community around our platform. Free features, great documentation, API access to everything, and lots of integrations with existing open-source projects.
How do you plan to conquer the market together with the Gcore team?
Our competitors have built great products, but they grew too big so fast, and the products have suffered because of that. Unlike them, we are small enough to move fast and yet have enough resources to easily compete with them, both in terms of infrastructure and development.
Our products will be simple to use and intuitive while remaining flexible and without hiding any advanced features behind paywalls. Everyone deserves to have a faster and more secure web experience.