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May 2013 Archives

Today we made an exciting announcement about Akamai's Aura Network Solutions, explaining the Operator CDN offerings that we have today and detailing new components, some of which came from the recent acquisition of Verivue.
We all know about the explosion of internet traffic over the past 5 years and how hyperconnected consumers are. Operators particularly feel the pain when trying to deliver content and video to their subscribers, via multiple devices, as they look to save costs, increase revenue, simplify their infrastructure and perhaps most importantly - deliver a superior user experience. Because of this, operators are increasingly deploying their own CDNs. That's where Aura comes in. Here are the highlights...

There are two main solutions within Aura, Aura Lumen, and Aura Spectra.  Aura Lumen is a suite of licensed Operator CDN (OCDN) solutions that enable operators to create new opportunities with a highly scalable media CDN for multi-screen video services, large object delivery and HTTP caching. The Aura Lumen OCDN provides a solution that directly impacts the bottom line by providing opportunities for new revenues, cost reductions and increased network efficiency. Aura Lumen also enables operators to offer multi-screen services and deliver a high Quality of Experience (QoE) for online content, including many OTT services, features that have been shown to increase subscriber satisfaction and loyalty.

Aura Spectra is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CDN suite that enables operators to create new opportunities for delivery of multi-screen video services, large object delivery and commercial CDN services. Aura Spectra provides an operator with underlying CDN capabilities through an infra- structure that is maintained by Akamai and monitored 24/7, thereby eliminating most complexity.

Perhaps it's best said by our fearless leader... Mick Scully, the Vice President and General Manager of our Carrier Products Division here at Akamai...

"The value of CDNs is very clear to the operator community, but getting to a place where they can realize the benefits requires a deep understanding of the CDN market along with significant investment in technology. Through our Aura Network Solutions, we're able to provide operators with new ways to take advantage of the IP media revolution, evolve their business models and create opportunities to, differentiate their networks, and attract and keep new subscribers. And we're doing it in a way that's intended to be as flexible and cost effective for our customers as possible."

You can learn more from Mick about the market for operator CDN and our Aura offerings in a new video on our web site where he answers some questions from yours truly. You'll also find the full announcement, new product briefs and more at: Akamai.com/aura.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out what Multichannel News, Fierce Telecom, Video Nuze and Streaming Media had to say about Aura.

Xbox Reveal Sets Akamai Records

Last week's Xbox One Reveal event ranked among one of the most-watched live broadcasts that Akamai has delivered. A post on Xbox Wire notes that the event "nearly [doubled] peak traffic records and [eclipsed] concurrent viewership high-water marks set by events such as the 2010 World Cup, Royal Wedding in 2011, and 2012 election night."

Xbox also reported that more than 8.45 million people watched the Xbox One Reveal in the first 24 hours and Nielsen numbers indicated the SPIKE TV broadcast of the briefing was the #1 television show for Men 18-34 at 10 am on May 21.

For more, visit Xbox Wire.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

TV Everywhere Getting There

TV Everywhere (TVE) is still evolving, but progress is indeed being made, agreed Will Richmond, Editor and publisher of VideoNuze, Corey Halverson, product director of media business solutions for Akamai, and Brightcove's CTO for media and broadcast solutions, Albert Lai, during a panel discussion at the PLAY 2013 Brightcove customer conference this week in Boston. The timely conversation took place in the midst of news from both ABC and Turner about plans to live stream programming to authenticated viewers.

Richmond opened the conversation by soliciting a definition for TVE, which he said continues to mean different things to different people since Comcast and Time Warner first coined the term back in 2009. "TVE is TV business models meeting consumer choice and demand," according to Halverson, who noted that the concept can still be very confusing.

Lai stressed the central role of authentication in TVE, which is critical in granting consumers access to the content that is available to them. This requires relationships and clear agreements between content providers and operators to avoid potentially confusing situations. "I use DirecTV for my TV and Time Warner for Internet service. Who decides what content I can access?" Lai asked to illustrate the point.

"This isn't your grandmother's video streaming," said Halverson in explaining that TV Everywhere brings together numerous technology pieces to support transformative change in the TV business. Among those are ad pod management and advertising, which he called a treasure trove of interesting activity.

An Introduction to Internet Hygiene

Despite the common misperception, there are not a lot of rules for ISPs. There are a lot of things people think are rules or perhaps even are called rules, but in reality, they are merely suggestions.

You may think to yourself, "how can that be?" Especially when things such as "Request for Comments" (RFCs), "Best Common Operational Practices" (BCOPs), and "Internet Official Protocol Standards" (STDs), all spell out the rules for protocols, servers, networks, and even higher level activities. These documents use words like SHOULD and MUST (yes, in all caps), with rigid definitions. However, when an ISP does not follow the rules there is no fine, no penalty, no Internet police to take them off to Internet jail. These "rules" end of feeling more like suggestions or recommendations.

But, they're called rules for a reason, and they do exist to make the Internet a safer, more reliably operating place. And, we know that ignoring the rules can lead to problems, so most ISPs follow most of the rules. But in some situations disobeying the rules does not cause an immediate or massive effect. ISPs may not even realize that something is wrong, even if the impact is large.

And therein lies the problem. The Internet is the largest shared medium in the history of humanity. If the users of the shared medium do not act in a way conducive to the medium's shared fate, it is harmful to all users. There are plenty of examples where a single ISP or a small number of ISPs playing fast & loose with the rules caused major problems for the entire Internet.

Following the rules - keeping your network clean - is considered good Internet hygiene. Complying with all the standards might not be sexy, but just like brushing your teeth, it is vitally important to maintaining good health. Besides, who wants an ISP with rotten teeth and bad breath? Yuck!

Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of RFCs, STDs, BCPs, etc. It can be difficult to figure out which ones apply to each individual situation.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to do a series of posts highlighting the most common things ISPs miss when configuring their network. Each of these actions is relatively low-cost or even no-cost, and will help not only the ISP configuring them but the Internet as a whole.

My initial focus will be on looking at those Internet hygiene issues that can help stop Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS is a scourge on the Internet, almost always harming the intended victim and frequently enlisting the help of unwitting ISPs, which harms those ISPs. Worse, they can harm networks in between the attacker and the victim. There just is no such thing as a good DDoS attack. My hope is these posts will spur into action some ISPs who did not realize that by following the rules they can protect themselves and the whole Internet.

I welcome your comments. The more people who get involved the better, and all ideas are welcome.


Patrick Gilmore is chief network architect at Akamai

Akamai is pleased to once again be participating in the CDN Summit being held in NYC May 20, 2013. This year, we're delighted to be co-presenting with Charter Communications for the session Deploying an Operator CDN to Enhance Customer Experience at 3:00 p.m. ET. Akamai's Frank Childs will kick off the presentation with an update on our Aura Network Solutions, explaining how we provide an Operator CDN solution suite that enables an Operator to capitalize on the hyperconnectivity of its customers to transform the user experience, drive subscriber loyalty, impact revenues and manage revenue network costs. Charter's Kreig DuBose will then explain their decision to utilize a standard CDN approach for delivering video, the challenges and best practices for implementation, its architecture, rollout process, results and next steps. Frank and Kreig will field questions at the conclusion of the presentation.  
The CDN Summit is always a great opportunity to hear from vendors and peers in the industry. And spring is the best time to visit New York City. Come join us. For more information on the show and to register to attend, please visit: http://www.contentdeliverysummit.com/2013/.

As we know, many of the world's leading commerce companies trust Akamai.  What about other mid-sized and smaller businesses and online retailers who are looking for acceleration and improvement of their site performance?  How is Akamai helping them succeed in their online business?  

Legendary Whitetails, a customer through our partner MICROS Retail, is a great success story in showcasing how a family-owned retailer offering unique causal apparel, gifts and gear for whitetail hunters can boost site performance, increase revenue and brand engagement and support its largest traffic day by leveraging Akamai's Aqua Web Solutions.

With no physical locations, Legendary Whitetails relies on its Web site as its primary storefront.  They are always seeking ways to improve the site experience because they know this leaves a lasting impression on their shoppers.  The retailer couldn't afford to disappoint their shoppers or lose sales due to a sluggish site.  They also needed to flawlessly handle traffic spikes associated with holiday shopping and promotions.  As a result, they went with Akamai.

Legendary Whitetails is using Akamai to deliver all of its site dynamic content and images.  Since implementing the Akamai solutions, the retailer has realized tremendous benefits.  It has offloaded 72% of its dynamic content to the Akamai platform, resulting in overall site performance improvement of nearly 200% on average.  It has also accelerated the delivery of dynamic content by 180%.  In fact, these improvements have made it possible for Legendary Whitetails to support its largest traffic day - 40,000 site visitors and over 650,000 page views - on Cyber Monday.

According to Ryan Johnson, eCommerce Manager at Legendary Whitetails, "Akamai is a key contributor in allowing us to grow 20% and achieve record sales in 2012.  We are also very encouraged that the solution will provide us with the capacity to maintain similar growth rates for the years to come."

To learn more about this customer case study, please click here.  By leveraging the Akamai platform, Legendary Whitetails is enabled to deliver content at scale, improve conversion rates and drive sales revenues.

Helen Yang is a public relations manager at Akamai