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Steelhead Cloud Accelerator Performance Results

I promised to return with some results on our new Akamai/Riverbed partnered SaaS acceleration solution, the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator.

First, let's examine the challenges that SaaS applications add to end-user performance and productivity.  Unlike origin-based applications, a branch user attaching to a SaaS application has unique challenges.  In 80% of the use cases globally, that branch office user is forced to traverse the private WAN back to a HQ or "hub" where Internet access is concentrated.  This "back haul" of user traffic is impacted by all the WAN challenges that Riverbed solutions exist to solve including latency, lack of capacity, congestion and application inefficiencies.  Riverbed's technology works at the IP and TCP layers, provides huge data reduction using data de-duplication, and solves the chatty and inefficient layer 7 application protocols using protocol prediction and optimizations.  

However, as the target for the user traffic migrates over the public Internet, there's now an extremely unpredictable, inefficient, and uncontrolled mesh of networks for this critical business application traffic to cross. Even in the 20% of cases where the branch office connects directly to the Internet, SaaS providers have a finite set of data centers and unable to provide nearby facilities to most end-users. Furthermore, ISP link capacity is still limited, and migrating end-users to SaaS only compounds these limited connections causing congestion, collisions, and ultimately significant degradation of any application leveraging the link.  The diagram below illustrates this public network challenge.  When we connected to our Office 365 instance in Chicago, traffic was routed to Texas and Chicago.  This inefficient route, the result of BGP shortcomings, resulted in significant latency (85+ milliseconds) and double-digit packet loss.  When Akamai enables SureRoute, the traffic takes a direct path, reducing latency to 25 milliseconds and packet loss to 0.

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In our testing and beta experiences, we observed an average of 60x performance impact for the back-hauled end user moving from an origin-based web application to one served from a SaaS provider in the public cloud.  This is the result of the strained WAN links, congested private network, distance and latency to cross the private WAN, and the compounded performance impacts found on the public Internet.

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The combined Akamai-Riverbed solution allows Akamai's globally distributed intelligent platform to dynamically spin up Riverbed end-points just outside of SaaS provider data centers.  This enables Riverbed optimizations to continue from inside the enterprise out across the Internet, to the front door of the SaaS provider.  In addition, Riverbed optimized traffic benefits further from Akamai Internet optimizations - the combination of the two working together is impressive.  Below are the initial internal testing results.  At the time, we could only hope to replicate this type of performance in the production world.

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The great news is, out in the real world, we're seeing anywhere from 7x (600%) performance increases all the way up to 209x (20,000%+) increases. Yes, a 38 minute transfer un-optimized completed in just under 13 seconds optimized! 

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Results vary based on the network environments and the traffic type, but the more challenged the link and larger the file being transferred, the higher the performance results.  On average, we're experiencing a mind-blowing 20x+ increase in performance across the board. If you're leveraging Office 365, Salesforce.com, or Google Apps for business, give us a call and see what this technology alliance can do for productivity in YOUR enterprise. 

Join me tomorrow March 7th to hear more about the solution, I'm presenting a webinar with Joe Ghory of Riverbed at 1:30EST! Register here: http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=403776&s=1&k=3F2A1CF54EB05BE554020B48F37769E4&partnerref=akamai3

Michael Cucchi is Director of Product Marketing at Akamai