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October 2012 Archives

Akamai Rocks with Global Citizen Festival

While last month's Global Citizen Festival drew more than 60,000 people to the Great Lawn in New York City's Central Park, Akamai helped bring the live concert to a massive online audience around the world by delivering the video stream over our Sola Sphere media platform. The Festival was streamed live around the globe in HD quality by Premiere Festival Sponsor, Vividas. The event, which was organized by the Global Poverty Project to raise awareness of and fight extreme poverty, included performances by Neil Young, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Band of Horses and K'naan. 

We were pleased to again partner with AEG Digital Media in making another high-profile event available to online viewers who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to participate. This was a tremendous effort that was live-streamed on VEVO, YouTube, Aol, Yahoo, VH1, CMT and NYTimes.com, and broadcast by AXS TV, Palladia, Globo Brazil and Fuse. Organizers said it was the largest syndication of a live music charity concert in webcast and broadcast history. 

Those efforts paid off. Afterward, the Global Poverty Project said the event raised $1.3 billion in pledges to help its cause.
The electric grid experiences the same daily peak demand issues as our freeways and the Internet with everyone wanting power at the same time during the middle of the day.  This makes providing power more expensive because extra power plants have to be built to meet this peak demand.  Servers that provide the world's Internet content are also their busiest during this peak power period.  And with the Internet consuming 2% of the world's energy and predicted to surpass the airline industry by 2020, the problem is only getting worse.

Furthermore companies that have large IT deployments are being challenged by rapid expansion and rising energy costs.  For companies like Akamai that host their IT infrastructure in third-party collocation data centers energy is typically priced based on the total supplied power in kilowatts (KW) charged at a fixed rate in $/KW for example 50KW at $200/KW per month, similar to a fixed number of minutes for a mobile phone plan.  While the supplied power is fixed, the power drawn by the servers vary with server activity which peaks and lulls daily as shown below.  Energy costs could be reduced if the server peak-power demand, and hence the supplied power, can be lowered.

Akamai_Internet_Traffic_graph_1_week.png

Figure 1.  Daily variation of Internet traffic.  Source: www.akamai.com

Akamai Edge 2012

Here in Las Vegas, Akamai Edge 2012 is off to a great start. Customers have arrived from dozens of countries across the globe. The Aria is buzzing and we're so glad everyone has finally made it.  It is so great to have employees, customers, and partners of Akamai all in the same place ready to share their knowledge- networking is in full swing! 
In the last two days, we've heard from dozens of global customers and the stories are fantastic. We're hearing about all the ways they're accelerating innovation and transforming Web Experiences in today's Hyperconnected World. Akamai customers really know how to embrace the digital world and move business faster forward!
 
Macy's, GREE, and The Hartford taught us more about building for scale and staying organized to enhance the online experience. That will be helpful as the holidays get closer and closer. We also heard from IBM about performance tuning and Airbnb about content-driven mobile experiences--it's unbelievable what a smartphone can do these days.  
 
Last night's Welcome Reception was a great success! From the music to performers and ice sculptures serving the Leighton Elixer - quite the global experience!  
 
Day 2 was just as packed as Day One, just as filled with knowledge about the modern digital world. HP kicked off the Main Stage with information about staying innovative and taking business to the public, private and hybrid clouds. Red Hat will discuss their innovation story, FOX News discusses how they plan to deliver on the "TV, Everywhere promise". Though it's so commonplace now, without the companies here at Edge consumers wouldn't be able to watch video on their tablet, cell phone and computer all at the same time. That is just one example of the innovation that is continuously moving society faster forward. 
 
We were lucky to have Tiffany Shlain with us this morning, filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards. She came to Edge to share her perspective on harnessing the power of today's hyperconnected world. It was amazing to hear her discuss all of the possibilities that technology has made available and how such possibilities are now considered foundations of successful modern business. Check out the trailer at http://letitripple.org/engage/. The trailer is so relatable and will even give you the chills-- definitely worth a movie night! 
 
Guitar Center, IBM, Trulia, Urban Airship, Grainger, Macys, Brightcove, Build.com, NRK, and the list goes on. So much great information and conversation came out of these panels. It felt great to take a deep breath and wind down the afternoon with a slower paced fireside chat, Nigel Miller of News International and Akamai's Andy Ellis had a lot of insight. 

Tonight we have the Customer Appreciation Party. Can't wait to celebrate, Vegas Style! Good thing smartphones now double as alarm clocks, everyone here in Vegas will definitely use them tomorrow to wake up for the last day of Akamai Edge. See you then!

Tim on a tablet in Toledo...? No Problem

Anyone following the Akamai blog for the past few weeks will have seen a lot of talk about this thing we're calling "situational performance." Product Manager Assaf Kremer explained why one size doesn't fit all in today's web performance world.

M.J. Johnson, a Product Marketing Director here at Akamai - and his whiteboard - were ready for a close up to illustrate how user situations impact web performance.

Now, it's Mike Afergan's turn. Mike is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Web Experience Business Unit at Akamai. He recently sat down with Dana Gardner of BriefingsDirect to discuss the various trends that are driving the transition from "web site" to "web experience" and why performance optimizations based on those individual user situations are critical to delivering a great user experience.

Listen to the podcast. Find and download it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. The options are almost limitless.

briefings direct pod cast.jpg   

Rob Morton is a senior public relations manager at Akamai

HTTP/2.0 - What is it and Why Should You Care?

An Aging Standard

HTTP is old.  How old?  Let's look at a timeline to start:

1991 - HTTP/0.9
1996 - HTTP/1.0
1999 - HTTP/1.1
2013? - HTTP/2.0

Our beloved protocol that has been powering the information age in which we all live has been kicking around for over 21 years. Further, it has not had a major version change in 13!  Using the dog year's metaphor, this puts the invention of HTTP back in the colonial time of the Internet (I have a marvelous proof of this but limitations to the margin property prevent me from including it). It is a rare occurrence when something can stand the test of that sort of time and remain relevant.  Even the United States Constitution has needed a few major tweaks in that time (27 in all). So it should come as no surprise that the current version of HTTP is showing its age.

But before I list off HTTP's deficiencies, let me take a moment to reflect on the wonder of "the Little Protocol That Could."  It is highly likely that every one of you reading this blog would not have the job you have today if not for HTTP. Think of the evolution of a "web page" since 1991. Think of the elements that we today take for granted that were never envisioned back when HTTP first displaced Gopher for file retrieval. The very fact that HTTP has been able to adapt to the rapidly changing web and power our modern marketplace is a testament to the brilliance of the protocol.  

That said, it seems that web developers have been holding HTTP together with dental floss and glue for a number of years. We have desires for "instant" page rendering and good old HTTP/1.1 is seen as one of the bottlenecks.


HTTP is Dead - Long Live HTTP

The largest annual gathering of Akamai customers and partners, the Akamai Edge Conference, is taking place next week at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and will feature speakers from more than 40 companies. Registration information and the complete agenda can be found at: www.akamai.com/edge

Business and technology leaders from Amadeus, Build.com, Cisco, CTV, Grainger, GREE, Guitar Center, Symantec, USAA, Visa, and many others, are scheduled to present during the three-day conference. Participating sponsors include HP, Terremark, Brightcove, Exceda, IBM, Dell, Adobe, Apica, BMC, Dolby, Envivio, Hybris, Kit Digital, Microsoft, Micros-Retail and Riverbed, among others.

Business innovators including Airbnb, Fox News Channel, The Hartford, Macy's, News International, Red Hat and Salesforce will offer keynote presentations.

Other exciting highlights include insights from industry luminaries Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and co-founder of The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences; Rick Smolan, former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer and best-selling author of the "Day in the Life" book series and creator of The Human Face of Big Data project; and Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research covering consumer and enterprise mobility

"Akamai Edge is taking place against the backdrop of a world that's connected like never before," said Brad Rinklin, chief marketing officer, Akamai. "This year's conference will focus on the extraordinary innovation taking place as businesses leverage cloud, mobile, media and big data strategies, all while addressing the security challenges inherent in today's hyperconnected world. We've created a dynamic program that will foster the exchange of ideas among peers from around the globe, representing industries such as media and entertainment, commerce, healthcare and life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, and software and technology."

Hope you can join us!




On any given day, Akamai delivers 15-30% of the world's web traffic, including some very high-profile sites.  We also receive large volumes of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and provide DDoS protection services to act as a buffer between our customers and the attackers.  In a typical week, Akamai and/or our customers are the target of two significantly-sized attacks of 10 or more Gigabits per Second (Gbps) and countless smaller attacks, and we're very successful in defending against them.
 
During the past few weeks, there have been several high profile attacks that have generated media attention and a lot of speculation. People want to know who the attackers are and what their motivation may be. The attackers and their motives have been linked to everything from cyber-jihadi hacktivism to Iran-sponsored cyberwar to Eastern European organized crime.

Speculation is interesting; useful, actionable information that can help protect your business is significantly more valuable.  Information, especially during a security incident, is critical for a number of reasons.  This is because the attackers will change tactics, techniques, and procedures until they find one that is effective against their current target and that enables them to achieve their objectives with the least amount of effort and risk.  As a result, threat intelligence is very perishable: what the attackers are doing today is different from what they were doing last month and very different from what they'll be doing in the future.
 
As you might imagine, we have fielded both informal and formal requests for information on what we've seen and what recommendations we have for customers. And where possible and without disclosing any customer specifics, we share blocking tips and then implement them in our customers' configurations to protect them from likely attacks. And we released an advisory for our portal users in North American and Premium Support customers.
 
So what do we know about the recent attacks?
-We received up to 65Gbps of attack traffic that varied in target and technique.
-Some attack traffic was directed at our Domain Name System (DNS) servers that we use for our Enhanced DNS service.
-Some attack traffic consisted of "junk packets" that are dropped from our servers automatically.
-Some attack traffic was valid HTTP for which we responded with a HTML page.
 
As far as Akamai is concerned, we're not as much interested in attributing attacks to a specific group of threats as we are in determining the pattern of the attacks and implementing countermeasures to stop them.  In this case, we advise customers to do the following:

-Protect their DNS:  DNS security is a critical service because when it fails, all other services fail.  We offer the EDNS service that uses the redundancy and availability of the Akamai platform to keep our customers' zones resolving.

-Protecting from network-layer attacks:  Network attacks attempt to flood the bandwidth into the target's datacenter.  Akamai mitigates this by having a massive deployment footprint and load-balancing between servers, locations, and geographies.

-Protect the default page:  A default page is the home page where the path ends in a "trailing slash" (for example, http://www.akamai.com/ ) that web users see when they first come to your site.  This is the page most commonly attacked in a DDoS and can be easily protected with basic caching.

-Protect their redirect or splash pages:  splash pages are a special page such as a custom 404, maintenance, or typo page that gives the web users information or redirects them to where the content is located.  Oftentimes these receive attack traffic destined for the default page.  These pages can also be protected by basic caching.

-Protect dynamic sites: In those situations where caching is not a viable option, Akamai offers both rate controls to limit the amount of requests that an attacker can send and "waiting room" capabilities that can park traffic and keep legitimate users engaged while at the same time alleviating pressure on  backend applications.  

Whether the attack is attributed or not, Akamai helps its customers today and in the future by understanding the attackers' patterns and by providing timely information and a platform designed to make the Internet safe for many transactions such as banking, commerce, government, and publishing.

To learn more about how Akamai can help protect your online business from DDoS and other web security threats please visit http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/kona-solutions.html.

Mike Smith is a senior security evangelist at Akamai Technologies