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Flash Boys & Web Performance on the Riviera Maya

I was ready for a relaxing vacation on the Mexican Riviera Maya where the warm waters and cool drinks would provide the backdrop for a great week.  Making the Internet fast, reliable and secure every day is demanding work so I was happy to temporarily leave my thoughts about Akamai at home, spend quality time with family, and sneak in a book that I've been wanting to read for a while.

I picked-up a copy of Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - by Michael Lewis.  Because of my interests in both technology and financial investments I was excited to read his latest thriller.  While on the beach, I started to read the book based on the premise that High Frequency Traders (HFT's) were able to front-run stock trades by placing servers as close as possible to the exchanges.  A competitive advantage could even be gained based on the floor location where a server was co-located.  New high-speed fiber routes were also built (which required blasting thru the mountains of Pennsylvania) to provide a more direct, faster path between the Chicago Board Option Exchange and Wall Street that would provide access to futures prices more quickly.  In both cases, minimizing the distance data had to travel was of the essence.

Wait a second (or should I say a millisecond)!  This sounded remarkably familiar.  At Akamai, we've been obsessed with eliminating the impact distance has on Internet latency by distributing Akamai software/servers as close as possible to Internet users, wherever they are.  The Akamai Intelligent Platform is now deployed in more than 1,400 networks, 3,000 locations in over 110 countries, connected to 99% of all global cellular networks along with software that extends into tens of millions of devices.  This massively distributed footprint is used to deliver content and applications from ideal locations combined with faster paths and connection throughput.  The speed improvements gained from this architecture provide our customers with a competitive business advantage (although, in completely different and unrelated ways to HFT) that no other CDN provider has been able to replicate.

Sure, it was fascinating to learn what happens after an investor pushes a button to make a stock trade.  But the myriad of evolving technologies that must come together in the fraction of a second after you type a web address and hit enter is a wonder in itself.  Michael, if you happen to read this blog post, please look me up as I'm certain inspiration for your next novel could lie somewhere at the technology forefront of making the Internet fast, reliable and secure.

Neil Cohen is Vice President of Product Marketing at Akamai.