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Introducing Cloudlets: Value-Added Applications in the Public Cloud

Remember Saved by the Bell? You know, Zack Morris, A.C. Slater, Screech and the gang from the early 90's Saturday morning TV show? Mindlessly flipping through the late night channels, I landed on the episode in which Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) was trying to impress a "scholarly gentleman" by posing deep questions about life:

"What is art? Are we art? Is art, art?"
In some strange way her faux "deep thoughts" struck a chord with me as I was pondering how to explain Akamai's new Cloudlets offering and how it fits within the ever-expanding hybrid cloud landscape. Taking some liberties with Ms. Turtle's premise, I submit for discussion:

"What are Cloudlets? Are we Cloudlets? When is a Cloudlet, a Cloudlet?"

A bit of a stretch? Let me explain...

The "art" of a good hybrid cloud strategy is to pick and choose managed service offerings from trusted partners that compliment your enterprise's core competencies so that your end users receive the best experience possible (i.e.: fast, reliable, secure and engaging). Thus, a hybrid cloud is just a purposeful composition of public clouds (CDNs, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, DbaaS, and the lot) and private clouds (your data centers) working in harmony. However, this composition is constantly in flux due to:

  • requirements for building out new website or application features,
  • cost reduction pressures, and
  • the greater need for the best end user experience on any device, anywhere.
One way to achieve all three of these goals is by moving (or enabling from inception) supporting applications out of the private cloud and into the public space. Enter Akamai Cloudlets!

What Are Cloudlets?

An Akamai Cloudlet is a small, value-added application which complements Akamai's core delivery solutions to solve specific business challenges. Cloudlets bring a site's business logic closer to the end user by placing it on the "edge" of the content delivery platform. Cloudlets...

  • solve specific business or operational needs that complement Akamai's core delivery products.
  • bring specific functionality to the "edge" of the Akamai network, resulting in fewer requests to origin.
  • are self serviceable. Each Cloudlet lets you configure and control a Cloudlet's behavior via dedicated and intuitive user interfaces and {OPEN} APIs.
The diagram below illustrates an end user's request without Cloudlets (top) and with Cloudlets (bottom). By moving the supporting application (such as en mass redirect management or image conversion) to the edge of the content delivery network, the overall round trip latency is significantly reduced, while the traffic your Origin has to entertain is also reduced.

Cloudlets Blog Picture.png
Transaction Steps

  1. An end user makes a request for a resource on your Akamaized site or application.
  2. An Akamai Edge Server intercepts the end user request and processes logic on your behalf.
  3. The Edge Server executes the supporting application in one of these ways:
  4. without Cloudlet, it forwards the request to your Origin to execute supporting application.
  5. with Cloudlet, the Edge Server processes the supporting application locally.
  6. The Akamai Edge Server sends a response to the end user.
Are We Cloudlets?

Yes, Akamai is Cloudlets...with the following three applications being the first available:

Edge Redirector

Providing operational simplicity, performance, and origin offload Edge Redirector offloads high volumes of 301 and 302 redirects to the Akamai Edge. With an API and an easy-to-use interface, you can define roles for both technical and non-technical users.

Visitor Prioritization

Visitor Prioritization is designed to decrease abandonment by providing a user-friendly waiting room experience when your back-end application becomes overloaded. Visitor Prioritization provides granular control of traffic, giving end users access to your resources and bandwidth without abandoning the branded experience.

Image Converter

Image Converter enables organizations to reduce infrastructure investment by dynamically manipulating images in the cloud to increase operational agility and drive revenue through rich, scalable web experiences. Image Converter is particularly useful for responsive web design (RWD) sites and RESS.

(When) Is a Cloudlet, a Cloudlet?

With the July 2014, launch of Edge Redirector, Visitor Prioritization and Image Converter, Akamai is announcing the creation of a Cloudlet Marketplace which will allow customers to pick and choose the extensions they need to drive their on-line experiences. This marketplace will continue to grow and evolve to provide a selection of high-quality, diverse, and market-relevant applications. Got a great Cloudlet idea? Hit me up! We are always looking to talk with our customers, prospects, and partners to investigate ways to provide value to your business.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!