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Recently by Neil Cohen


It's summertime!  While most people are relaxing at the beach or enjoying a BBQ, here at Akamai we've already shifted sights towards the winter to provide relief for retailers by ensuring they have fast, reliable and secure e-commerce sites in time for the holidays.  The holiday season, after all, is just around the corner.  Here are four key ways we are helping retailers convert more shoppers into buyers while also securing their web experiences:


(1)  Make the experience fast

Last year, for the first time, Akamai saw more than 50% of holiday traffic from mobile devices during certain periods of the day.  This trend will undoubtedly continue as shoppers embrace multi-channel experiences while accessing content from different devices at different times of the day.  Akamai's Real User Monitoring (RUM) provides retailers with a detailed understanding of the actual page load time visitors experience across the myriad of devices and networks.  Akamai Ion provides the fastest acceleration for content accessed on all types of devices and networks including the unique challenges of responsive web design, congested cellular networks and those pesky API calls which slow down the mobile app experience.

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'm going to Disney World!

For years I've been taking the commuter rail to the Akamai office, and Boston's South Station has served as the prime location for trying to capture my attention with big, print display advertisements. The well-placed ads last month down the stairwell for the new Caribbean resort definitely appealed to my inner desire to quickly escape the dreary, long winter - but the reality of having two young boys in school makes this, unfortunately, only a dream for me. Last year, a beer ad in the same stairwell tried to convince me that "less is more" with the introduction of a new, slim 8.5oz can designed for summer. I'm sorry, but the idea of buying smaller, slimmer cans during the hot summer for the sake of refreshment just didn't jive with me. More is more, right?

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

Observations from Cloud Connect

I've just returned from the Cloud Performance Summit at the 2012 Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara. It was a jammed packed day with a room full of obsessive web performance junkies. In other words, exactly my type of crowd and I was fortunate to be invited to share my own perspectives. The inevitable migration of applications and data to the cloud introduces new web performance bottlenecks that are driving a maniacal focus to overcome latency issues and help businesses turn milliseconds into money. What was exciting this year was the overwhelming realization that IT networking is increasingly becoming software driven, fueled by cloud, with a de-emphasis of the underlying hardware.  Everybody understands that the virtual machines within public and private clouds are controlled and accessed through software.

What people are now increasingly understanding is optimizing cloud performance is simply an evolution of the software with a constantly-evolving set of techniques and the ability to execute the code wherever the cloud infrastructure might reside. The software techniques underlying DNS Services, Application Delivery Networks, WAN Optimization, WAN Virtualization, Application Delivery Controllers and Front End Optimization - to name a few - were discussed at-length by my counterparts and their suitability and ease of use for cloud built applications. The hardware is increasingly becoming a portable environment for the software, even within the IT networking space where the server hugger is destined to be an extinct species.

The migration to cloud and pervasive connectivity with mobile devices are clearly driving new requirements and rapid innovation toward performance optimization. It has never been a more exciting time to for those obsessed with web performance. The work we are doing to integrate Riverbed Steelhead software for SaaS acceleration over hybrid networks and the recent acquisition of Blaze to help optimize browser think time for mobile connected devices is further evidence of how software is redefining what the network can and should be.

Neil Cohen is the VP of Product Marketing for Akamai