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Recently analyst James Staten generated a lot of interest when he characterized the cloud as entering its "awkward teenage years," not quite at the point of adulthood, but stretching outside the comfort zone (of enterprises) and experimenting with new ideas.  Today Akamai is introducing Terra Alta, its latest application acceleration product that acts kind of like a finishing school, so to speak, to help refine the cloud and deliver applications more like the adult it's trying to be.  In a way, we're helping the teen cloud find a place in adult IT society.

We've always talked about our "Edge" with EdgeServers distributed across the globe helping to optimize applications and Websites.  But we've focused on the "middle mile," the public Internet, where our platform stretches to reach "close" to end-users, datacenters, and cloud providers.  With Terra Alta, we're recognizing that "close" is no longer good enough.  We've made a giant leap, extending our optimizations beyond the edge of the Internet and into our customers' data centers, at the edge of the enterprise.  We've virtualized our optimization technology, via a virtual machine (VM) we call Enterprise Edge, which can be quickly and easily installed in the DMZ using Akamai's customer portal. 

Application architecture has previously focused mainly on the database, application, and web tiers, without considering the 4th tier of application delivery, where enterprises insert intelligence to optimize and accelerate those applications to end-users.  However, we believe that for today's Internet-enabled enterprise, that 4th tier needs to extend from the inside the datacenter to all the way across the public Internet.   That last piece, outside the purview of the IT team, is much harder to control and can seriously hamper application effectiveness.  Enterprise Edge's proximity to the application origin allows us to extend across the 4th Tier and do a number of things we could never do before.

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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

Scaling for Any Device, Anywhere

This week I had the opportunity to address a large group of CIOs and global IT executives at the Handelsblatt Conference in Munich.  The theme of the event was "Seamless IT: anytime-anywhere-any service-any device."
 
I was asked to speak on the topic of Internet scalability, which is a challenge that Akamai has been addressing since our inception nearly 14 years ago.
 
In my presentation I argued that new risks to Internet scalability would far eclipse the traditional concern that rising demand for content delivery capacity would overwhelm network growth. Going forward, scalability will be most impacted by how companies are able to respond to the rapid adoption of cloud computing, and how well they can defend against the increasing security threats that have come with so much business - B2B and B2C - moving online.
 
The sun has set on another CES show filled with new gadgets, celebrity appearances, endless cab lines, partially-functional voice and data services, and back-to-back meetings. After meeting with many connected device companies, content owners, press and analysts, a few themes seemed to stand out.

The first big theme is that hyperconnectivity has become completely pervasive. Every imaginable device can be connected to the Internet to provide additional services. Phones, tablets, TVs and game consoles have typically been the big talk, with innovation focused around thinner, lighter weight devices, faster processing and memory, and greater storage on the device. However, the pervasiveness of this trend toward Internet-connected devices emerged in Las Vegas. In particular, it's interesting that many businesses in the automotive industry made major announcements at CES instead of the North American International Auto Show, which was taking place at the same time. It was also interesting to see all the growth in connected devices across health, fitness, home automation and control, home security and more. A great example of innovation is a company called Nest, that has reinvented something as simple as a thermostat to become a smart device by leveraging learning capabilities with Internet-supported functionality to make better decisions about controlling temperature, providing real value and energy cost savings to consumers. However, more devices from different businesses and industries becoming connected has created a major challenge.

Las Vegas is a Zoo!

Twitter and the blogosphere are buzzing about CES 2012. As the sun set the night before the show officially started, there was already a lot to think about. The cab lines at the airport weren't nearly as long as in years past, cell coverage seems to be working still (it was non existent last year at this time) and kangaroo's are the latest press conference gimmick. Should be a fun week ahead!

A few themes emerged already as major consumer electronic companies held press conferences and set the stage for their 2012 digital strategies. Stay tuned for more insights from the show floor this week.

Broader Device Reach
Lots of new tablets and smartphones were unveiled yesterday including those from Lenovo, AT&T and Samsung. Sony said it will bring more than 200 connected devices to market in the next three years alone! Also, a great article in Venture Beat takes a look at the new digital strategy by one of Akamai's leading customers - Fox News - to address the growing landscape of Internet-connected devices.

"The starting point for all [these changes] is there are more devices, more connectivity," Fox New and Business' vice president of digital, Jeff Misenti, told Venture Beat. Fox is introducing a slew of new ways for its audience to interact with news anchors, articles, video content, live streaming, and even the front page of Fox News' website itself. The emphasis, however, is on the recently adopted term "TV Everywhere." A number of media outlets are taking to TV Everywhere as a way to deliver content to a number of different devices and to do that as seamlessly as possible. But syncing your customers' viewing experience across a variety of screens is a challenge. One of Fox's first major moves Fox on this front is a partnership with Akamai to create a cross-device authentication system that allows Fox customers to prove they have Fox News accounts. From there, they can access saved and new content on any authorized device.

Today's hyperconnected world is radically changing the business of media and entertainment. Cloud computing, ubiquitous connectivity, and the increasing consumption of IP video are driving content providers to move more content to the cloud and users to expect easy access across multiple devices. Technology advancements and rapid consumer adoption have created an environment where delivering a secure, high-performing consumer experience on any device is critical. This new environment brings enormous benefits and opportunities, but also real challenges.

Industry predictions indicate that by 2015, 90 percent of video will be online and the ratio of devices per Internet user will be five to one. As a result, the entertainment industry faces increasing complexities around entitlement, access, monetization, quality and security.

Today at CES, Akamai unveiled three new products to address emerging business and consumer needs in the online entertainment industry in the areas of security, delivery and as well as support for emerging business models. Building on its Intelligent Platform, Akamai is enhancing its next-generation broadcast solution - the Akamai HD Network - offering advanced monetization capabilities, business model flexibility and simplified workflow to reach a growing device landscape.

Premium entertainment content is a perfect fit for the cloud as the proliferation of connected devices makes on the go entertainment experiences today a reality. By solving the challenges of this dynamic landscape, Akamai continues to take complexity out of the equation and allow our customers to focus on their core business strategies.

More information about today's announcement can be found at these links:
Press Release: http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press_news.html
Akamai SecureHD Whitepaper: http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/hdnetwork.html
Akamai for UltraViolet microsite: http://www.akamai.com/ultraviolet

Jennifer Donovan is a Senior Manager of Public Relations at Akamai
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