Structure 09: Akamai's CEO Explains Why the Middle of the Net Is Such a Drag

Structure-090625-1004-D71_4630Running the 11-year-old content-distribution kingpin Akamai, which manages nearly 50,000 servers and optimizes the world’s overtaxed web services, might be a high-profile job for some. For Akamai CEO Paul Sagan, it’s actually his second act — the cousin of science writer Carl Sagan was formerly an Emmy award-winning producer at CBS Interactive. As broadband starts to enable everything from media to communications to commerce, clearly moving from helping produce the content to helping quickly and efficiently move it around is a good transition (um, except for innovative new blogging media companies).

Akamai helps its web customers maintain fast connection times, even under the biggest traffic spikes (Obama live streaming inauguration) and halfway around the world. What Sagan has found is that it’s actually the middle of the Internet that contributes to the most drag. Think about it: From the user through the firewall to the database is relatively fast, and the last mile to the user is just a fraction of a second. But the middle of the public Internet, with it’s chatty web services and redundant connections, can add on lengthy delays — as long as 8.2 seconds in Sagan’s example. Akamai solves this problem by effectively creating its own private tunnels on the public Internet and doing other optimizing and overlaying techniques.

And conveniently for us, he also speaks in nice orderly chunks and sound bites. We’ve compiled some of his lists below during Structure 09’s first keynote of the day:


6 Key Ingredients for What Is Cloud Computing:

1. Computing accessed via the Internet — not proprietary networks that enterprises have used before.
2. Outsourced and shared infrastructure — without shared you won’t get efficiencies.
3. Scalable resources that you get on-demand.
4. Metered use — only pay for the piece you use.
5. Need a new level of reporting and insight, plus a new level of security.
6. 10 years of history led us here.

Why the Cloud Is Inevitable:

1. Acceptance of web-enabled technologies, from the consumer side inside the enterprise, IM, social networking, etc.
2. Economics of shared infrastructure is better.
3. It’s a faster way to get applications to market.
4. Security has gotten good enough for public Internet and sharing infrastructure.
5. This model is much more efficient and greener. The IT industry is the fastest growing culprit of the carbon footprint problem.

Cloud Computing Enablers:

— virtualization
— infrastructure as a service
— application platform as a service
— software as a service
— we think the piece that is missing here is optimization layer — that’s Akamai

Top CIO Concerns With Cloud Computing:

1. Security
2. Performance
3. Availability
4. Integration
5. Customization

Video of the presentation is here:

Photo by James Duncan Davidson.