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See You at Edge 2013!

Since our founding, Akamai has been at the vanguard of the Internet revolution.  And as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary this month, our spirit of innovation and our desire to solve the most difficult Internet challenges are just as strong today as they were 15 years ago.

From day one, we have worked hard to gain an understanding of how our customers want to use the Internet to make their businesses be more agile, more customer-centric, and more profitable.  And we use that understanding to guide our innovation and to invent new solutions to help make our customers' visions become a reality.

This October, we'll be gathering in Washington, DC for our 6th annual customer conference--Akamai Edge.  Edge is one of my favorite events because I get to hear from our customers about how they're using Akamai solutions to help deliver on the promise of the Cloud.  Edge is more than a conference; it's become a forum for Internet visionaries from a range of industries and regions to gather and share their secrets to online success.

Our customer base now includes 96 of the Internet Retailer 100 companies, 7 of the top 10 global banks, 19 of the top 20 hotel brands, and more than one-third of the Global 500 companies.  And many of the leaders from those organizations will be on-hand at Edge to share their ideas for pushing the pace of innovation in a hyperconnected world.

This year, we will hear from industry thought leaders such as Fedex CIO Rob Carter, Security Expert Bruce Schneier, IT visionary and author Gene Kim, and many others from organizations like eBay, Visa, CBS Interactive, and IBM.

I look forward to seeing you in DC and to understanding how we can help improve your business in the rapidly-changing and increasingly-complex online world.

Tom Leighton

Chief Executive Officer, Akamai

Federation Explained

I will start this blog entry with a disclaimer: there are many definitions out there for CDN Federation, most are feasible but many are just not as practical and/or easy to implement as advertised.  All you Trekkies that came here because of a Google alert about federation, sorry... we are talking about content delivery done seamlessly between two or more differing entities, not the United Federation of Planets.

To cut through all of the noise about CDN Federation, let's begin with the two traffic flow scenarios that make up CDN Federation.  Outbound and Inbound which we will call Termination - and to be clear, this is not network packet flow which happens in both directions in either case, but rather content origination and location where content is consumed.  The below diagrams will help illustrate what I mean.

Outbound_Federation.png 

Outbound CDN Federation - This is a widely deployed type of Federation and refers to when an Operator who owns some content, a network, and a bunch of subscribers needs to have greater reach for that content than the Operator's network allows.  The Operator may also need some level of excess capacity or redundancy for their content and subscribers.  This could be on a local or global level.  The reasons for Federating are discussed a bit later, but for now you can think of Outbound Federation as being done in order to distribute content.

 

 Termination_Network_Offload.png

 

Termination or Inbound CDN Federation - This type of CDN Federation is done by Operators who are trying to localize and manage traffic. The traffic originates in a different operator's network but is consumed by the subscribers of the Operator deploying the Inbound Federation.  Once again, the reasons for implementing this type of CDN Federation are discussed a bit later but for now you can think of Termination as being deployed to manage network traffic.

Now let's get to the reason as to why one would need Federation or Termination.  The few practical reasons listed below are not applicable to everyone, but Operators will find at least one or more of these reasons appealing in order to become part of a Federation.

1. Global Reach (Outbound Federation) - this is the sexiest of the advertised reasons for Federating.  Think of a perfect world where any Content Provider (CP) can reach any subscriber regardless of location.  This is indeed a very good reason to federate your CDN.  Much like your mobile phone service, where you can make calls and send text messages from pretty much anywhere to anyone. Federating allows roaming subscribers of a major cable operator or telecom to view their home Operator's content on any network, even a competitor.   This roaming may not be necessarily global in nature like in the case of mobile phone, but more often perhaps down the street at your local coffee shop with a different ISP.

1. Maintenance, Overflow and Flash Crowd Handling (Outbound Federation) - No one really talks about this particular aspect of CDN Federation because well, it is not as exciting as global reach. But, it is probably the most useful part of Federation.  This is generally done as additional on-demand capacity and is under a different administrative control than the Federating Operator. This CDN capacity is deployed in the same Operator's network or in the network of an adjacent Operator in the same geographical vicinity as the home Operator CDN is deployed.  Sometimes this adjacent Operator can be a competitor.   This type of Federation is done in order to handle scheduled or unscheduled maintenance and flash crowds created by major events. 

2.  Traffic Management and Localization (Termination) - When you are an operator with subscribers, your subscribers can request content that originates anywhere in the world.  These subscribers also demand Quality of Experience (QoE) for the content they consume.  This content, when coming from another operator, typically enters at a very expensive and capacity limited point in the Operator's network and then traverses the home network with very limited Operator control until it gets to the subscriber.  This is expensive and hard to manage for the home Operator.  This also can cause a poor QoE for the subscriber.  Ultimately, nobody wins...

The solution to this challenge? Termination: bring the traffic deep into the Operator's network to cache it in strategic points, thus making it manageable.  It is hard not to sound biased here, but the Federation has to be with someone who has a lot of content and more importantly has control of this content for legal and technical reasons.

With that said, and now that we are talking about Federation in the same context, the next blog post I will talk about the Global Reach portion of Federation and reasons some of the challenges associated with it.

Michael Kuperman is a senior director of Business Development at Akamai    

EdgeBanner.pngI'm pleased to invite you to our 6th Akamai Edge 2013 this October 7 - 11 in Washington, D.C. at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Conference Center. Join us and meet up with more than 1,000 of your industry peers and our best line-up yet of industry innovators, as we create the experiences that to drive a Faster Forward World

Our Biggest and Best Customer Conference Yet! 
More sessions, tracks and networking opportunities that have all been designed to provide a broader and more diverse perspective for conference attendees. 

What's New To Help Fuel Your Innovation! 
This Year we'll be offering a Developers' Track - dedicated to technical professionals seeking to develop new experiences leveraging our platform. We'll have sessions on how to bring applications to market more quickly and intimate developer labs giving you detailed insight on how to get the most out of new features in our platform. We're also pleased to introduce the Web Security Symposium, designed for security professionals. Security leaders and your peers will help you think about strategies for securing your organization's data, sites and applications against the ever-evolving threats of today's online environment. 

We're extremely excited about the agenda and the lineup of well-known industry luminaries and tech experts who will be presenting at Edge 2013. So much so that we're introducing new conference discounts to help make attending Edge as easy as possible for all Akamai customers. 

Three Ways to Save: 
  • New Customer Discount: If your company first purchased Akamai services after January 1, 2013, you're eligible to receive a $300 discount on the Full Conference pass. Enter code: 50NEW2013 
  • Edge Alumni Discount: If you've attended an Akamai conference before now you're eligible to receive US$300 off your conference seat. Enter code: ALUM2013 
  • Team Discount: Visit Akamai Edge 2012 With Your Team of 3 or more and save 50% per person. Enter code: GROUP2013 

From customer innovation stories, industry panels, technical labs, partner and government forums to Web security and developers' tracks, there's something for everyone at Edge 2013. Space is limited and by invitation only so we encourage you not to wait and REGISTER TODAY

Join us and be inspired. I look forward to seeing you there! 

Brad Rinklin 
Chief Marking Officer, Akamai

The Effects of Video Failures on Your Audience

Last week we published the below high-level info-graphic showing how online video performance impacts viewer behavior. These stats are based on a scientific research paper released by Ramesh K. Sitaraman, an Akamai fellow and professor of computer science at UMass-Amherst, and S. Shunmuga Krishnan, a senior system software engineer at Akamai. One of my favorite key takeaways is what we're calling the 2-second rule, which shows that videos with a start-up time that exceeds 2 seconds tend to have higher abandonment rates. With each additional second another 6% of viewers abandon, and by the time you get to 10 seconds, half of your audience is gone! As you can imagine, this impacts not only that specific viewing experience, but also the general impression of that publisher's/website's reliability for disseminating information. In fact, according to the research paper, around 91.8% of viewers do not return within 24 hours of a video failure. 

What does this all mean? It means without monitoring the quality of your video streams and how your viewers are engaging with your content, you are literally streaming blind and have no ability to know what is working and what is not.
 
Check out the below info-graphic for more interesting stats that have a real impact on businesses who rely on video streaming.
MaximizingAudienceEngagement.jpg
Noreen Hafez is a senior product marketing manager at Akamai.

Live from Comic-Con with FUNimation Channel

The comics world is gathering in San Diego this week for Comic-Con® International and Akamai is excited to help FUNimation Channel stream live from the massive conference. Owned and operated by our partner, Olympusat Telecom, FUNimation Channel's originally produced entertainment news show, Random Pop: Live at Comic-Con, is live streaming July 18-20 from 12 PM-6:30 PM PST. The content is being delivered with Olympusat Telecom's OT Cloud and OT Connect services, which leverage Akamai's Sola Media Solutions suite of cloud-based content preparation, storage and delivery tools.
 
The live stream is available at www.funimation.tv.

Simplifying the Transcoding Conundrum

This is the third installment in a series of posts that discuss various challenges of online video and how Akamai's Sola Media Solutions can be used to address those challenges.

One of the most common challenges that we hear from customers - of any type - is the uphill battle they face when attempting to prepare content for delivery to multiple devices. Even dividing devices into categories seems daunting: mobile phones, smart phones, tablets, phablets, laptops, desktops, connected TVs, game consoles ... the list can go on and on. And it only gets worse when you introduce operating systems and brands into the mix.  

There are a lot of ways to go about getting content to multiple devices, but one way or another the content is more than likely going to require transcoding. And when you are talking about adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming, transcoding is a necessity. To date, transcoding has been an arduous process. There are a myriad of input possibilities - video format, audio format, file container, source file quality - that make up yet another list that goes on and on (seeing a trend here?). Once you've got the file into the transcoding system, what outputs do you want? Or maybe more appropriately asked, what outputs do you need? Considerations like bitrate, number of renditions and frame rate are all in play at this point.  
Authentication for TV Everywhere is a complex challenge to solve if consumers are to enjoy seamless, user-friendly experiences that enable high-quality, premium content to be viewed across devices. It's a challenge that Akamai is addressing through our Sola Vision Identity Services, which our partner, Brightcove, has integrated into its Video Cloud online video platform.
Recently, Corey Halverson, Akamai's senior director of media products, joined Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove's CMO, and Phil Costa, director of product management, to discuss the TV Everywhere opportunity and how the two companies are working together to help make it easier for pay TV operators and content owners to deploy and manage such services. The conversation is captured in the video below.

Walking on a Wire

Discovery Channel's nerve-wracking "Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda" last Sunday brought new meaning to the term, "cable TV." The live television and online broadcast featured tightrope walker Nik Wallenda, a.k.a. "The King of the Highwire," traversing a 1,400-wide section of the Grand Canyon some 1,500 feet in the air on a two-inch cable.

Skywire_Screen 2.jpg 

As pleased as Akamai was to help Discovery Channel deliver the live online video stream to viewers worldwide, we were far happier - and relieved - that Nik successfully completed the stunt without incident. Akamai worked with Discovery Channel to make streams from five different camera angles during the walk available to visitors to its Wired In multiplatform experience, which generated more than 2.1 million streams on Sunday and peaked at 322,000 concurrent streams.

Discovery Channel reported that the event was watched by 12.98 million total viewers and became the "#1 most social show across broadcast and cable in the U.S.," where it generated 1.3 million Tweets.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

On the Road with Aura Network Solutions

As previously posted here, Akamai's Frank Childs recently presented at the CDN Summit in NYC alongside Charter Communication's Kreig DuBose for a session titled "Deploying and Operator CDN to Enhance Customer Experience." Frank spoke about our Aura Network Solutions and Kreig explained his decision to select Aura, the results of the implementation and next steps. If you're interested in seeing the presentation, I've inluded the video below...

 

After the CDN Summit it was back on the road for the Cable Show in Washington, DC. The event was the perfect place to see new advances in interactive video applications, breakthrough technologies that are changing the way people communicate online, and multi-screen content delivery strategies, among others. And of course we heard from industry leaders talking about their investment and product development priorities for 2014 and beyond. While I spent some time celebrity spotting - MC Hammer, Ricky Schroder and JLo, to name just a few - our very own Kris Alexander presented in what is known as "Imagine Park" in the center of the exhibit floor. To a packed crowd, Kris showcased Akamai's "Hyperconnected Living Room Experience", explaining how the second screen trend is likely to evolve and what is possible in the world of synchronized experiences and companions apps.

Here is a video of his presentation.

 

As you might imagine, The Cable Show folks do a remarkable job of capturing all of the show's presentations online. Take a look at their web site to view more sessions at: https://2013.thecableshow.com

Tara Bartley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai

Rafael Nadal's unprecedented eighth French Open championship wasn't the only record set at Roland Garros last week. France Télévisions' live webcast of number one-seeded Nadal's semifinal victory over second-seed Novak Djokovic on Friday, June 8th, set new peak concurrent viewer and traffic records for the event on the Akamai Intelligent Platform. 

More than 126,000 viewers were simultaneously watching the four-hour match at one point, driving traffic to peak at 155 Gbps. Both figures mark new highs for France Télévisions and its delivery of the live online video broadcast of the French Open over Akamai.

Nadal.jpg(Photo: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports)

France Télévisions used Akamai's Sola Media Solutions to live stream every match from Roland Garros to viewers in France and French territories watching on the website and through tablet and smartphone apps. Through a "multi-court" feature, viewers could choose to watch any match of their choice either live or on-demand. 

Supported by the Akamai Intelligent Platform, Sola Media Solutions enable the economic online distribution of content to the broadest possible array of devices, delivering rich, high-definition quality video to any device at broadcast-size audiences.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.
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