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February 2013 Archives

MobileRider Gains Competitive Edge with Akamai

The eyes of the extreme skiing and snowboarding worlds will be on Vail, Colo., and Kirkwood, Calif., starting today for the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships and Swatch Freeride World Tour 2013 presented by The North Face. Viewers around the world will be able to enjoy live HD streams of both events on Internet-connected devices thanks to Akamai partner, MobileRider.

Experts in delivering live and on-demand content over the Internet and across multiple platforms, MobileRider uses Akamai's Sola Sphere content delivery platform for all of its live and on-demand video requirements, from action sports events like snowboarding, skiing, surfing and paintball, to major concerts and artists such as U2, Madonna and KISS. For the U.S. Open and Freeride events, MobileRider is deploying turnkey packages that include satellite transmission and encoding, delivery, and media management that support the quality, custom look and functionality that content owners and viewers have come to require and expect.
MobileRiderMogulsWeb.jpg

Satellite antennas and moguls at the FIS Freestyle International at Utah's Deer Valley.

"Akamai gives MobileRider a competitive edge," according to Noah Hollander, the company's COO. "We went through a long and arduous search for a strategic content delivery partner, and discovered that Akamai's innovation is helping us offer the best possible services to our customers."

Are you a Liar or Outlier, or Both?

Akamai is pleased to host Bruce Schneier at the Akamai booth at RSA® Conference in San Francisco the week of Feb 25th. We will be giving away free copies of Bruce's newest book - Liars and Outliers - and Bruce will be available for signings.  Bruce will be signing copies of his new book Liars and Outliers.  Bruce is both an innovative thinker and a thought leader in the field of security.
 
Liars and Outliers is an enormously candid book, especially coming from someone who makes his living in the security industry.  In the book, Bruce makes a case that many within the security industry consider dirty secrets:
 
1)      Security systems are inherently, and will always be, flawed
2)      As technology advances, the ability of threat actors to outpace security innovation will expand
3)      More security is not always beneficial
4)      In order to function effectively, society needs the following pressures, in equal measure, to work in conjunction with security:
a.       Moral
b.      Reputational
c.       Institutional

In the end threat actors will always exist, and in many ways are necessary for the survival of society, much in the way that hawks are a necessary part of the food chain.  This is not to say that Liars and Outliers is fatalistic, or even pessimistic.  It is simply a well-researched, well-written, and entertaining book that comes to the conclusion that the evolution of security, moral, reputational and institutional pressures is a process, not a product-- and that "There is no 'getting it right' - this process never ends."  We couldn't agree more, and are happy to host Bruce Schneier throughout the week at our booth, #1630.

For a complete book signing schedule, visit www.akamai.com/RSAC2013. Please stop by to meet Bruce and get a free signed copy of his book.

Devices versus Services: What Really Matters?

Having spent my career in the IT world, where I've participated in the design of high-level services, including CDN-related technologies, I now find myself helping to make a case for why network operators should consider CDNs as a core element of their network infrastructure. One of the factors that make this interesting is a difference in perspective between the IT view of the world and the operator world-view. I don't claim to be unique in witnessing this clash of perspectives since it's happening more generally as network operators consider adopting cloud technologies, but I would claim that CDNs are at the bleeding edge of traditional IT technology pushing deep into operator access networks.

In trying to put my finger on whether there's something fundamentally different in how these two communities build and operate systems, I keep coming back to the following distinction. Network operators think in terms of appliances and devices, and how they can be architected to build a network, whereas the IT perspective decouples hardware and software (treating the former as commodity), and focuses on how the software can be architected to provide a global service. This device/appliance versus software/service distinction then permeates the language: one talks about managing individual devices and the other talks about managing the service as a whole; one talks about appliance performance and the other talks about aggregate service performance; one talks about device reliability and the other talks about service-level reliability. Of course the network operator also thinks about network-wide behavior and IT people also think about per-server behavior, but their respective viewpoints start at opposite ends from each other.

Ultra HD, The Next Gen TV: Who Can Afford Them?

Anyone at this year's CES would have seen the connected device manufacturers promoting "Ultra HD" or "4K" TV. This next-generation TV provides picture quality many times better than HD (or BluRay) devices can produce today - 3840 * 2160, (approx. 8.3 megapixels per frame) vs. HD's 1920 * 1080 (approx. 2.1 megapixels per frame). On the surface, it seems like a breakthrough and early adopters will undoubtedly covet this new screen, but will they be impressed enough to make a purchase?

LG Electronic's CEO Havis Kwon said "2013 is an important year because for LG, it marks the beginning of a newTV era.  With game-changing products such as the OLED TV and Ultra HD TV, we are in a strong position strategically to lead the industry. Delivery of our Ultra HD TV well before the competition and the imminent release of our OLED TV in the first quarter of 2013 will give us a head start in a market where speed is a critical component of success."  So seems at least LG is betting big on it.  Rumour was that after 5 months LG had sold only 300 of its early models!

Predictably, there are potential stumbling blocks. The 4K TV is expensive. The first screens will hit the market in the middle of the year and Sony is taking pre-orders for its 86" model at US$25,000. Samsung's 85" is rumored around $37,000 and LG's 84" at 24,000. The price is on the high side, but many early adopters, who are keen for the latest gadgets, will open their wallets. With each new generation TV screen, the time taken for price commoditization gets shorter and shorter, so it's likely that more mainstream, attainable consumer pricing will be available in a year or so.

The major stumbling block for this new gadget is lack of content. Broadcasters currently do not broadcast in 4K. Their current best is 1080i, which is not as good as 1080p or BluRay. Sony's offering comes with ten 4K movies pre-loaded and Samsung is promoting an engine to improve 1080i/p but not to the full 4K quality, although the Samsung CES demo looked stunning.

Advertising, the Super Bowl and Ray Lewis' Greatest Feat

Does anybody realize there's a football (American football, depending upon where you're reading) game being played in between advertisements this Sunday? Perhaps it's the bitter Patriots fan in me talking, but for many, the Super Bowl is more about the ads than the game itself. And why not? It's huge business. The New York Times reported that the average cost for a 30-second spot during this year's game is between $3.7 million and $3.8 million.

Akamai is proud to be delivering Website traffic for a significant portion of this year's Super Bowl advertisers, representing a cross-section of industries and a veritable who's who of global brands. As we've done in the past, we've created the Super Bowl Advertising Index, a near-real-time visualization of aggregated Website traffic for Akamai customers who are advertising during the game. The Index will show total page views per minute to a collection of advertisers' sites that are Akamai customers, and will remain available for two weeks following the game.

Follow @Akmai on Twitter for live updates during the Super Bowl. Also, check out our Social Media Index to see how traffic to a collection of social sites is behaving during the game. Could it be a big play that drives the largest traffic spike; or perhaps a particularly buzzworthy commercial? I'm putting my money on Ray Lewis' post-game levitation above the 50-yard-line before rocketing through the Super Dome roof and off into space.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.