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End-User Mapping Brings Users Closer to Internet Nirvana

It goes without saying that people enjoy using the Internet more when response times are fastest. But most of us are not as concerned about why websites respond more quickly, as long as they do. There are many factors that contribute to faster (and more satisfying) web experiences. Certainly, faster broadband connectivity and well-designed web sites play a role. And websites that leverage content delivery networks (CDNs), which distribute web content to servers located closer to end-users, outperform sites that don't.

A Very Exciting Day for Akamai and Telefonica

Telefonica_Logo.pngHere at Akamai, it is our goal to work with Operators to build a more efficient network and a faster Internet service to meet the growing demands of their subscribers. We are thrilled to be announcing a strategic global alliance with one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world to deliver on that goal, Telefonica. And when we say "one of the largest"...Telefonica has over 323 million customers!

Türk Telekom and Akamai Team Up

Today is another exciting day for Akamai and our Aura Network Solutions team with the announcement of our strategic partnership with Türk Telekom.  We have teamed up to build a high capacity Operator Content Delivery Network (OCDN) for high-quality delivery of online content and video.  The OCDN will also optimize the network efficiency of Turkey's Internet infrastructure.


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The partnership will ensure a significant increase in speed and performance for broadband and mobile users in Turkey, particularly when accessing social media and popular online video sites.  It will also allow Turkish media companies to provide high quality content to their audiences outside of Turkey. 

 

If you don't already know, Türk Telekom is Turkey's leading communication and convergence technologies company with a modern network infrastructure covering the whole country; they offer a wide range of services to residential and commercial customers in fixed lines and broadband Internet.  With this partnership, Türk Telekom joins a select group of leading telecommunications companies - AT&T, KT and Swisscom (not too shabby) - who have entered a strategic partnership with Akamai to serve global and local customers on a joint technology and network platform.

 

I think it's always best said by our partners what a partnership with Akamai means to them.  At a press conference last Thursday in London, Türk Telekom CEO Tahsin Yılmaz commented...

 

"Türk Telekom built the communication infrastructure in Turkey and continues to invest in new technologies.  Our collaboration with Akamai is one of the key steps we have taken in this area.  As the leader of the Turkish telecommunication industry, we'll be offering benefits in cost and accessibility to all players in the Internet sector, from content providers and media organizations to the end users who access their services.  Akamai is one of the largest providers of content delivery and cloud services in the world and by providing faster access to popular rich media content within Turkey, both companies will ensure a highly efficient and top performing user experience to all of the stakeholders in the industry."

 

"We'll be contributing to the Turkish economy by exporting data to foreign countries.  This partnership will also significantly reduce our network costs associated with traffic originating from content across the globe.  Better yet, we will be making a significant contribution to Turkey's economy, as data traffic and services within Turkey will be accessed by users in other countries.  In a sense, we'll be exporting data to many international customers."

 

Together we are going to make a huge impact, it doesn't get more exciting than this!


To read the press release, please visit our press page.  To learn more about our Operator CDN solutions, please visit the Aura section of our site.


Tara Bartley is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai

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

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

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

Today we made an exciting announcement about Akamai's Aura Network Solutions, explaining the Operator CDN offerings that we have today and detailing new components, some of which came from the recent acquisition of Verivue.
 
We all know about the explosion of internet traffic over the past 5 years and how hyperconnected consumers are. Operators particularly feel the pain when trying to deliver content and video to their subscribers, via multiple devices, as they look to save costs, increase revenue, simplify their infrastructure and perhaps most importantly - deliver a superior user experience. Because of this, operators are increasingly deploying their own CDNs. That's where Aura comes in. Here are the highlights...

There are two main solutions within Aura, Aura Lumen, and Aura Spectra.  Aura Lumen is a suite of licensed Operator CDN (OCDN) solutions that enable operators to create new opportunities with a highly scalable media CDN for multi-screen video services, large object delivery and HTTP caching. The Aura Lumen OCDN provides a solution that directly impacts the bottom line by providing opportunities for new revenues, cost reductions and increased network efficiency. Aura Lumen also enables operators to offer multi-screen services and deliver a high Quality of Experience (QoE) for online content, including many OTT services, features that have been shown to increase subscriber satisfaction and loyalty.

Aura Spectra is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CDN suite that enables operators to create new opportunities for delivery of multi-screen video services, large object delivery and commercial CDN services. Aura Spectra provides an operator with underlying CDN capabilities through an infra- structure that is maintained by Akamai and monitored 24/7, thereby eliminating most complexity.


Perhaps it's best said by our fearless leader... Mick Scully, the Vice President and General Manager of our Carrier Products Division here at Akamai...

"The value of CDNs is very clear to the operator community, but getting to a place where they can realize the benefits requires a deep understanding of the CDN market along with significant investment in technology. Through our Aura Network Solutions, we're able to provide operators with new ways to take advantage of the IP media revolution, evolve their business models and create opportunities to, differentiate their networks, and attract and keep new subscribers. And we're doing it in a way that's intended to be as flexible and cost effective for our customers as possible."

You can learn more from Mick about the market for operator CDN and our Aura offerings in a new video on our web site where he answers some questions from yours truly. You'll also find the full announcement, new product briefs and more at: Akamai.com/aura.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out what Multichannel News, Fierce Telecom, Video Nuze and Streaming Media had to say about Aura.

An Introduction to Internet Hygiene

Despite the common misperception, there are not a lot of rules for ISPs. There are a lot of things people think are rules or perhaps even are called rules, but in reality, they are merely suggestions.

You may think to yourself, "how can that be?" Especially when things such as "Request for Comments" (RFCs), "Best Common Operational Practices" (BCOPs), and "Internet Official Protocol Standards" (STDs), all spell out the rules for protocols, servers, networks, and even higher level activities. These documents use words like SHOULD and MUST (yes, in all caps), with rigid definitions. However, when an ISP does not follow the rules there is no fine, no penalty, no Internet police to take them off to Internet jail. These "rules" end of feeling more like suggestions or recommendations.

But, they're called rules for a reason, and they do exist to make the Internet a safer, more reliably operating place. And, we know that ignoring the rules can lead to problems, so most ISPs follow most of the rules. But in some situations disobeying the rules does not cause an immediate or massive effect. ISPs may not even realize that something is wrong, even if the impact is large.

And therein lies the problem. The Internet is the largest shared medium in the history of humanity. If the users of the shared medium do not act in a way conducive to the medium's shared fate, it is harmful to all users. There are plenty of examples where a single ISP or a small number of ISPs playing fast & loose with the rules caused major problems for the entire Internet.

Following the rules - keeping your network clean - is considered good Internet hygiene. Complying with all the standards might not be sexy, but just like brushing your teeth, it is vitally important to maintaining good health. Besides, who wants an ISP with rotten teeth and bad breath? Yuck!

Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of RFCs, STDs, BCPs, etc. It can be difficult to figure out which ones apply to each individual situation.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to do a series of posts highlighting the most common things ISPs miss when configuring their network. Each of these actions is relatively low-cost or even no-cost, and will help not only the ISP configuring them but the Internet as a whole.

My initial focus will be on looking at those Internet hygiene issues that can help stop Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS is a scourge on the Internet, almost always harming the intended victim and frequently enlisting the help of unwitting ISPs, which harms those ISPs. Worse, they can harm networks in between the attacker and the victim. There just is no such thing as a good DDoS attack. My hope is these posts will spur into action some ISPs who did not realize that by following the rules they can protect themselves and the whole Internet.

I welcome your comments. The more people who get involved the better, and all ideas are welcome.

 

Patrick Gilmore is chief network architect at Akamai

Akamai is pleased to once again be participating in the CDN Summit being held in NYC May 20, 2013. This year, we're delighted to be co-presenting with Charter Communications for the session Deploying an Operator CDN to Enhance Customer Experience at 3:00 p.m. ET. Akamai's Frank Childs will kick off the presentation with an update on our Aura Network Solutions, explaining how we provide an Operator CDN solution suite that enables an Operator to capitalize on the hyperconnectivity of its customers to transform the user experience, drive subscriber loyalty, impact revenues and manage revenue network costs. Charter's Kreig DuBose will then explain their decision to utilize a standard CDN approach for delivering video, the challenges and best practices for implementation, its architecture, rollout process, results and next steps. Frank and Kreig will field questions at the conclusion of the presentation.  
 
The CDN Summit is always a great opportunity to hear from vendors and peers in the industry. And spring is the best time to visit New York City. Come join us. For more information on the show and to register to attend, please visit: http://www.contentdeliverysummit.com/2013/.

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