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Speeding Up the Internet: Algorithms Guru and Akamai Founder Tom Leighton (Part 9)

Posted on Thursday, Oct 25th 2007

SM: One of the concerns you must be facing now is how big can the CDN business be, and how fast can it grow? I am sure your investors like to see diversification as it is both risk and business diversification. Application acceleration provides that diversification, and I like it.

TL: We consider it to be a really critical part of our future. I should also mention that in the media area, we have also done a lot of work, partly through acquisition and partly through internal development, around content management for media assets, link syndication, things to make it a whole lot easier for our customers to manage their content, in addition to just delivering it.

SM: Manage their content in what sense?

TL: You can imagine someone like the NBA. They have all sorts of film clips coming in from all types of sources. By halftime, they would like to have the clips up from the first quarter, from all of their assets. Link syndication means that they would like their preferred partners, whom they are getting the most revenue from, to get access to the best-quality video. Maybe there is a partner who is not a preferred partner, so for that link, they will de-prioritize and offer a lower quality version of the video.

Maybe there are other sites with which they do not have any business relationship. Those sites will get blocked. It is all the same link, but depending on the business rules for who is asking, you will get something different. Managing that whole thing, making the meta data tags around the videos, there is a lot of work that goes into the whole operation. We are providing tools for our big media customers to help them manage that effectively. Our Stream OS does that, in part due to the Nine systems acquisition.

SM: What are some of the new areas you are expanding services into?

TL: One place we have services now is with user generated content. In the old days, it was all from the content provider to the user. Today it is amazing how many sites have user-created content on their sites to bolster a user generated community. We all know about the MySpace and YouTube, but there are a lot of other ones as well. They let users share experiences and information. We put a lot of resources into reversing the process of content delivery, which is that you have millions of users, they all want to upload different files but at the same time. Building the infrastructure that allows them to quickly get the upload, making that go fast, storing it and providing access to it using the content delivery channel are all issues that we tackle. There was a lot of investment we have made over the last couple of years to do that. Today the majority of the social networking sites that are interested in user generated content can use Akamai to manage these operational challenges, and make that experience work for their users.

This segment is part 9 in the series : Speeding Up the Internet: Algorithms Guru and Akamai Founder Tom Leighton
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