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Speeding Up the Internet: Algorithms Guru and Akamai Founder Tom Leighton (Part 8)

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 24th 2007

SM: How do you provide fast, reliable service globally? What is the secret there?

TL: There are a bunch of things we do for that. In the old adage, having our servers near the end users rewards them. We sit on top of and find better routes on the Internet. We don’t change the protocol, but we will tunnel traffic through other Akamai servers that would not otherwise be on the path. This gives us the ability to find good routes on the Internet when the given route has congestions.

A great example is when the Taiwan earthquake hit. A lot of folks not using our services were disconnected from key parts of Asia for extended periods. Akamai customers using these services did just great. They did not realize there was an earthquake. There were some great graphs from that period of time which demonstrate the case study.

Finding a better route may mean we find multiple routes, so even if the route we are using experiences problems on the fly, we have another route running which will get the information where it needs to go. We run our own Akamai protocol, and we support TCP over it using our own protocol, part of this we acquired from Netli.

We dramatically decrease the number of round trips needed to send a file or run an application. When you reduce the number of round trips, that obviously makes you faster – especially if you are overseas.

For dynamic content, we will do intelligent pre-fetching. Say we are delivering the HTML to a client from a local Akamai server, as we are delivering the HTML or the JavaScript, we will be parsing it. We will see what other links are there, and we will go and fetch those other links within the HTML ahead of time, and when the user comes back, instead of going across the world to get it, it is already right there for them. It is like a static cache even though it is a rich dynamic environment. The end results are that we can make the application from end to end run a lot faster. We are not as well known in this area of business, we are known for big media, but really the fastest area of growth for us is Application Acceleration.

SM: What kinds of customers are the early adopters of Application Acceleration?

TL: We don’t have only early adopters anymore. We have over 200 brand name customers. Phillips Medical, Caterpillar and Audi are a few I can mention.

SM: Is there an application pattern with them? Are these ecommerce applications? Primarily – business applications?

TL: Everything. B2B commerce, CRM, global portals. If you have a business application and you are dealing with remote offices and clients, or remote business partners, we will make it profitable.

SM: You are able to expand your total available market massively with the Application Acceleration offering.

TL: It is not really CDN anymore. Other companies that do CDN, most certainly do not do this.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Speeding Up the Internet: Algorithms Guru and Akamai Founder Tom Leighton
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