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An Exciting Day for the WAN - Akamai & Cisco Announce Strategy

For years at Akamai, I have spoken at conferences and with customers about the future of the WAN.  While the title of my presentations may have varied - "Next-Generation WAN Services", "How to Redesign your WAN", "Preparing for the Convergence of Private WAN and Internet" - my view has not.  Network architectures need to undergo a huge transformation.  Why?  The increased amount of web traffic finding its way within enterprise private networks.  It's inevitable due to increased adoption of public cloud services, video and other business or recreational traffic.

Mixing web traffic with other business traffic inside the corporate network creates a lot of strain.  The majority of enterprises today still backhaul traffic from the branch office to the data-center to access the Internet.  The primary reason is for security as it is easier to lock-down a small Internet access points as opposed to going "direct-to-net" at every branch and having to protect all of these locations.  The downside to this approach is the performance impact it has for users in the branch office as their traffic is unnecessarily being routed around large distances, along with scalability challenges as bandwidth available at the branch is limited.  Even for those branches that do connect entirely direct to net, you'll still have to bring the optimizations into the last mile, to solve for scalability and performance.  Ultimately, I believe enterprises will increasingly mix and match their Internet strategies for the branch using techniques like direct to net, split tunnel and path selection depending on factors such as security, quality of service, application type and cost.

Today, we announced that Akamai has been developing new technology which we call Akamai Unified Performance that brings application performance "behind the firewall" and into the branch office.  With more than 1,000 Commerce, Retail, Hotel and Travel customers, many of these customers have asked us to help them move their Omnichannel initiatives forward as the digital experience increasingly extends beyond home and mobile into their brick and mortar stores.  One of our customers, Marks & Spencer, recently shared that their shoppers spend 8x as much if they can engage them in all three channels.  But enabling the in store Omnichannel experience requires a new approach to the retail store network, as highlighted in this white paper. It involves a whole bunch of new optimizations that allow retailers to extend their investment and experience with Akamai on the web and get those same optimizations into the store - while also accelerating lots of other 3rd party content delivered by Akamai given the Intelligent Platform already delvers 15-30% of all web traffic.

We also announced today that Akamai and Cisco are working together for future integration of Akamai Unified Performance into the Cisco ISR AX series of routers and we showed a working prototype on the main stage at Edge 13.  The intent is to co-develop enterprise network offerings with Cisco aimed at delivering the world's first combined Intelligent Wide Area Network (IWAN) Optimization solution that provides a high quality end user experience for both public and private cloud applications to all remote offices.  You'll be hearing more from us when products are brought to market, but there are so many possibilities when you think about the routing, performance optimization and security capabilities both companies bring to the table which can overcome existing challenges associated with branch office network architectures and the user experience.

It's an exciting day for the enterprise WAN (and me).   Read more at www.akamai.com/cisco

Neil Cohen - VP Global Product Marketing, Akamai

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