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Dr. Tom Leighton on Transitioning to IPv6

With "World IPv6 Launch" officially underway, Akamai is providing a unique look at IPv6 traffic on its global platform.

Organized by the Internet Society, and building on the awareness of last year's successful World IPv6 Day, the world launch of IPv6 represents a major milestone in the global deployment of the successor to the current Internet Protocol, IPv4.

Read more in Akamai's news announcement from this week.

The following is a statement provided by Akamai's Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, Tom Leighton, on the importance of this milestone...

"IPv6 is critical to the future of the Internet's underlying architecture ... and to support the billions of devices that will connect to the Internet over the coming years.

"A tremendous amount of work and awareness has occurred over the past decade to prepare for the transition to wide-scale commercial use of this important protocol. 2012 will be a milestone year for the Internet as we begin to see rapid growth in the adoption of IPv6 after years of changes to operating systems, client and server software, networking hardware, and Internet backbone networks.
"Akamai has built its business around transforming the unpredictable Internet into a robust and reliable platform for transacting e-commerce, distributing rich media, and delivering enterprise applications. We stand committed to helping our customers with a smooth transition to IPv6.
"Having expanded our global IPv6 footprint to over 50 countries, Akamai enables Web sites to reach a growing audience over IPv6 with the performance and reliability that they have come to expect, and demand, from IPv4. Over time, the permanent deployment of IPv6 by companies around the globe will ensure the Internet remains accessible by all the devices that will be part of the future of online business.
"We applaud the work of The Internet Society, and so many of today's businesses that have prepared for this important transition ... ensuring the Internet remains a robust, collaborative, and infinitely accessible platform."

Jeff Young is Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Akamai
Ranked #186 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list, Motorcycle Superstore is a leading online retailer in the motorcycle and powersports industry. Check out this video to hear directly from Jason Miller, Vice President of Technology, on how the company accelerates their eCommerce business to get the best performance for its customers. 

As Motorcycle Superstore's eCommerce business grows, a fast, secure and seamless site for customers is critical. From content and mobile acceleration to Web security and PCI compliance, Motorcycle Superstore needs a single solution provider to address these challenges as they expand their online business. Leveraging the Akamai platform, Motorcycle Superstore is powered to deliver content at scale, improve conversion rates and drive sales revenue.

By monitoring traffic for threats, Miller said the company found that 6 -10 percent of traffic trying to access their site violated the company's firewall rules and was stopped at the edge. Because Akamai's Web Application Firewall, part of the company's KONA security solutions, blocks bad traffic at the network edge outside of Motorcycle Superstore's datacenter, it allows the company to maintain its PCI compliance, drive more site traffic and safeguard its brand and shoppers' information. According to Motorcycle Superstore, since leveraging Akamai, it has reduced capital expenditures on security hardware by 15 percent and reduced bandwidth costs associated with handling attack traffic by 10 percent.  
And on the mobile front, like many other retailers, Motorcycle Superstore is seeing a tremendous growth in number of shoppers accessing their site from mobile devices. To aggressively keep pace with growing mobile usage and capitalize on the opportunity to convert the traffic into sales, the retailer implemented Akamai Mobile Accelerator to deliver mobile content close to the mobile gateways, addressing challenges of mobile delivery and providing faster response times. Miller says that Akamai's mobile services helped enhance the user experience, encouraged more time on the mobile site, and drove a 200 percent increase in mobile channel sales.

Lelah Manz is Chief Strategist for ECommerce at Akamai

Public Sector IPv6 Heats up this Summer!

What an exciting spring and summer 2012 for IPv6, especially for our public sector customers! As the world's leading cloud platform for delivering secure, high-performing user experiences to any device, anywhere, Akamai continues to do its part in the global transition by dual stacking its infrastructure, and helping its customers deliver content to their IPv6 users.   

The Federal IPv6 Task Force, chaired by Peter Tseronis of the US Dept. of Energy, continues to drive IPv6 adoption through multiple channels and Akamai, working with our public sector customers, is proud to be part of those efforts. I recently had the opportunity to brief the Fedv6 Working Group on Akamai's IPv6 road map and how we could help federal agencies meet OMB IPv6 mandates. We've already transitioned 21 public sector customers (715 hostnames) to our dual stack platform  which not only helps them meet the September 2012 IPv6 OMB requirement for external public facing websites, but allows them to participate in World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012.

We're really pleased that so many public sector customers have transitioned to IPv6 already, but we haven't yet hit 100%... If you are an Akamai customer, and do not know your transition date, you can contact your account team, or me directly.    If you are interested in learning more about how Akamai services can help you meet upcoming mandates, contact me today. All new customers will go live directly onto our dual stack platform.   

I am anxious to see the IPv6 traffic grow over time and have already begun capturing data for a historical reference down the road. And if you haven't already, start capturing statistics today. With so much speculation around IPv6 traffic growth - from where, when, and how much - it will be great to have quantitative stats revealing any trends that should arise. Akamai customers can view real time traffic statistics, including those specific to IPv6, through Akamai's Luna Control Center.  

Akamai can also help protect websites with its security portfolio. Agencies in a rush to meet deadlines may find themselves with non IPv6 compliant firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Having Akamai in front of their origins reduces risk, defending their infrastructure from IPv6 attacks and malware. We also offer a DNSSEC service.

There's a lot of great information out there about IPv6.

For example, if you missed my colleague Erik Nygren's IPv6 Webinar, you can catch it on demand anytime. Also, check out the video Dan York of the Internet Society posted regarding CDNs and IPv6.

Christine Schweickert is a Senior Engagement Manager at Akamai

Launching Forward with IPv6

With the era of freely available IPv4 addresses nearing its end, I'm pleased to see that 2012 appears to be the year when the IPv6 Internet will finally reach maturity and launch into wide-scale commercial use.  For over a decade, the groundwork for the migration to version 6 of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) has been built, with changes to operating systems, client and server software, routers, and Internet backbone networks.  To-date, however, the availability of IPv6 content and end-users has remained slim with few Web sites being available over IPv6 and with just over 0.5% of global Internet users having IPv6 connectivity that their machines will elect to use.  

I'm optimistic that IPv6 adoption is on the verge of gaining real traction, and the upcoming World IPv6 Launch event on June 6th will be a milestone.  As part of World IPv6 Launch, many large websites (including quite a few Akamai customer sites) are permanently enabling access over IPv6.  In addition, some major ISPs are enabling IPv6 for over 1% of their end-users, and a few home router vendors are also enabling IPv6 by default in their products.  A more complete transition is going to take well over a decade, but with IPv6 access for both more content and more end-users, we are making progress towards that goal.

Akamai is committed to helping our customers with a smooth transition to IPv6.  We have had IPv6 capabilities for over a year and IPv6-enabled over 50 sites belonging to over 20 customers that participated in last year's World IPv6 Day event.  In April 2012, we released production IPv6 support for many of our products and solutions, including Dynamic Site Accelerator, Terra Alta, and Kona Site Defender.

The Future of Cloud Computing

Once again, Akamai is proud to be collaborating on the North Bridge Future of Cloud Computing Survey. Now in its second year, the survey is designed to help identify current attitudes related to cloud computing and begin to identify trends that may help us understand how the cloud landscape is evolving.
How are companies embracing the public cloud?  Are they keeping things close to home with private cloud implementations? What about hybrid cloud?
What are the drivers for moving to the cloud?  Cost?  Scalability?  Agility? Is security in the cloud keeping CIOs awake at night? Or, are they more worried about complexity and manageability?
Take a look at the results from last year's survey and add your voice to the 2012 version.  It'll be interesting to see what's changed - and what's stayed the same - in the past year.  We'd love to get Akamai's blog readers into the mix, so please take a few minutes to provide your perspective.

Thanks in advance!
Andy Rubinson is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Terra Enterprise Solutions at Akamai

A Few More Tricks From Terra Alta

Last week we introduced Terra Alta to the public (watch video here, under "Akamai's Solution Portfolio") My blog post highlighted analysts talking about the cloud entering its "awkward teenage years" and how Terra Alta is taking on the 4th tier of application delivery to help the "teen cloud" grow up. I also promised I'd be back shortly with some additional insights into new ways Terra Alta helps address application delivery challenges that Akamai previously hadn't been able to impact.

In the past, when our customers have had long think-time applications due to database lookups, Web services calls, or other processing components that slow down origin response times, there wasn't much we could do to help other than speed the content once it was ready to be delivered.  But by then it is usually too late.  The new Terra Alta feature, Akamai Instant, now lets us tackle that delivery challenge head on.  By designating the most likely next pages to be visited by users, Terra Alta is able to start the process of gathering content, making Web service calls, or doing database lookups, before the page is requested by the user, and pre-fetching that content to the edge of the Internet, close to users, prior to the user requesting it.  We've seen this improve the performance of these applications by up to 100% over origin delivery.

We've also had challenges with end users who access accelerated applications from behind centralized DNS infrastructure that make them appear to be at that centralized location.  That means users in Tokyo could appear as though they're in New York and be served content from an Akamai EdgeServer in New York, losing the benefit of Akamai's caching and dynamic optimizations across the public Internet.  Terra Alta's Enterprise DNS Mapping feature allows us to overcome this challenge by remapping users that are behind a centralized DNS to an Akamai EdgeServer that's close to their actual location, such as Tokyo in this case.  Similar to Akamai Instant, we saw performance increases up to 100% faster when using Enterprise DNS Mapping.

The final innovation I wanted to highlight is InstantConfig, which helps to instantly onboard new applications onto Terra Alta without having to do a separate configuration each time. Terra Alta is designed for enterprise use for multiple applications, so this is especially important if there are many applications to add.   Andy Champagne, our VP of Products and Technology for Terra Enterprise Solutions, demonstrated how easy it was to use during the product introduction I referenced above.  He was able to put a new property onto Terra Alta in the blink of an eye, and the result you see here is a decrease in page load time from about 10 seconds down to 1 as soon as he applied InstantConfig.

Terra blog 2 pic.png

That doesn't cover all the ways that Terra Alta can improve your application delivery, but hopefully it piqued your interest.  After its product introduction last week, I was pleased to see some of the positive media buzz from Network Computing, IT Business Edge, and Data Center Knowledge.    If you're ready to help your "teen" cloud strategies grow up, I invite you to learn more here.

Andy Rubinson is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Terra Enterprise Solutions at Akamai
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.

Terra Alta blog pic.png

Two things are pretty undeniable when it comes to mobile.

One is that "online" activity (which is a pretty archaic term - most of us don't "go online" anymore; we're already there nearly all the time, even before we get out of bed in the morning) is shifting toward mobile.  Whether you look at the Cisco Visual Networking Index, or the comprehensive, though now somewhat dated, Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report, or any of the hundreds of other indicators - mobile traffic is growing exponentially and shows no signs of leveling anytime soon.

The other is that available bandwidth (or, more properly, "spectrum") to deliver mobile experiences is at a premium.  Earlier this month, for instance, Verizon revealed in an FCC filing that without additional spectrum allocation, they will begin to run out of "4G" LTE spectrum by 2013.  Yes, that's right - 4G spectrum will begin to be a scarce resource starting next year.  4G, that new fancy high-speed spectrum that power users covet and that Apple just began to support with its new iPad.

We, as users of mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, are voracious.  We've collectively discovered the convenience and value of accessing web sites and using apps wherever we roam, our expectations are higher than they are for desktop sites, and we want more.  Much more.

Clearly, this unprecedented demand is forcing a radical response.  Mobile network companies are building out capacity as rapidly as they can.  Designers of mobile web sites and apps are doing what they can to "lighten" the amount of data required to deliver meaningful sites and apps that are still highly engaging for users.  But there's only so much that can be done to reduce data payloads before designers start to cut into the user experience.

Our belief is that the best approach to an improved mobile experience is a layered one.  Certainly, working diligently to reduce the data associated with a mobile web page or data payload for a native app is a critical step toward improving mobile performance.  But there's quite a bit more that can be done.

With today's launch of Aqua Mobile Accelerator, Akamai has improved how mobile data is accelerated for companies delivering content and applications, helping improve mobile experiences for consumers and business users of both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. Additionally, Akamai's recent acquisition of Blaze will introduce new front-end optimizations to further reduce data payloads and the number of requests necessary to deliver a mobile web page, resulting in even faster delivery time. And our partnership with Ericsson continues to develop an end-to-end solution that will benefit users where they need it the most - within mobile networks.

The promise of what mobile technology can deliver is still coming into focus.  It's extraordinary how much has come to fruition in such a short time.

And we're just getting started.

M.J. Johnson is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Akamai

I promised to return with some results on our new Akamai/Riverbed partnered SaaS acceleration solution, the Steelhead Cloud Accelerator.

First, let's examine the challenges that SaaS applications add to end-user performance and productivity.  Unlike origin-based applications, a branch user attaching to a SaaS application has unique challenges.  In 80% of the use cases globally, that branch office user is forced to traverse the private WAN back to a HQ or "hub" where Internet access is concentrated.  This "back haul" of user traffic is impacted by all the WAN challenges that Riverbed solutions exist to solve including latency, lack of capacity, congestion and application inefficiencies.  Riverbed's technology works at the IP and TCP layers, provides huge data reduction using data de-duplication, and solves the chatty and inefficient layer 7 application protocols using protocol prediction and optimizations.  

However, as the target for the user traffic migrates over the public Internet, there's now an extremely unpredictable, inefficient, and uncontrolled mesh of networks for this critical business application traffic to cross. Even in the 20% of cases where the branch office connects directly to the Internet, SaaS providers have a finite set of data centers and unable to provide nearby facilities to most end-users. Furthermore, ISP link capacity is still limited, and migrating end-users to SaaS only compounds these limited connections causing congestion, collisions, and ultimately significant degradation of any application leveraging the link.  The diagram below illustrates this public network challenge.  When we connected to our Office 365 instance in Chicago, traffic was routed to Texas and Chicago.  This inefficient route, the result of BGP shortcomings, resulted in significant latency (85+ milliseconds) and double-digit packet loss.  When Akamai enables SureRoute, the traffic takes a direct path, reducing latency to 25 milliseconds and packet loss to 0.

Riverbed blog post image#1.png

You know, I love times like this.  It's one of those rare times....When I'm finally right about something. Trust me, my wife will insist that I'm right about things very rarely. At Akamai I concentrate on extending the Enterprise infrastructure out onto the Internet and into the public cloud. It's from this perspective that I clearly see the strong catalyst for Enterprise IT change - and what convinces me I'm right about what I believe is the next consolidation cycle in the space.
Being right about something means being able to dive into the details, but also being able to "bounce out" and validate the details from a broad vantage point. When I bounce back and look at the technology market today I see some significant and clear trends. I see a real and present collision between consumer and enterprise IT functionality and productivity. And it's in the software as a service space. It's here that innovative delivery technologies combined with present day functionality (like social, mobile, video, etc) are manifesting instantly and crossing the enterprise boarders quicker then anyone imagined it could happen.  These are the bright spots of technology. Those spots where you know you've hit a ground shift of real change. Something that's going to build to the new way of doing business.  So, it's clear to me, in 2012 SaaS is that ground shift.  With no notice..... "Cloud" went from a marketing term to a specific something enterprises spend 10% today and 25% tomorrow on investing in to deliver productivity to end-users.  The CLOUD IS FULL OF SAAS.  Look at any analyst report.... The major spend, quoted by some as over 90% of the actual revenue spend in "the cloud", is SaaS spend.
It's easy to consume.  The HR director can buy it.  The research assistant can buy it.  The entire enterprise can buy it.  Or just your most advanced, highest end users can buy it.  It's consumable.  It's abstracted.  It's easy to adopt. Any device can access it.  You don't need to buy any hardware, train anyone, build anything, secure anything..... It's just instant on-demand application consumption. You give a credit card over the phone and minutes later your users are accessing the app and being productive.  Amazing right?
Sure is.  But, so was "consolidate all your servers to a centralized datacenter with no impacts" 10 years ago.  And IT teams globally are still shaken and hungover from that decade long bender.
We're smarter than that now. 
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