Akamai Inside: Creating a CDN for Enterprise Apps

Akamai (s akam) has created a partnership with Riverbed Networks (s rvbd) to improve the delivery of enterprise applications over both public and private networks, giving Akamai a foothold in the enterprise market as cloud computing heats up. It’s also a response to the change in how and where people access their content in an increasingly connected world.

Akamai, a content delivery network that uses a network of thousands of servers located at the edge of ISPs’ networks to speed up the delivery of movies and rich web content over the public Internet, has worked with Riverbed to put Akamai software inside Riverbed’s appliances. Riverbed’s gear sits inside corporate data centers to ensure that enterprise applications are delivered quickly and cheaply over private corporate networks. In short, this partnership gives Akamai a way to bring its software into the enterprise without having to replicate its high-cost model it required to build out its original CDN.

Instead Akamai is using Riverbed’s position in the network to gain a foothold in the cloud. Meanwhile, Riverbed can now tell its clients it can help them deliver content over the public web using Akamai’s CDN. The combination addresses the more complicated networking world emerging as enterprises shift some applications to SaaS providers or public clouds.

This general idea of deploying a CDN-like infrastructure to deliver WAN optimization sounds similar to a product that startup Aryaka is trying to provide by offering its own software inside various data centers and Internet Points of presence. Aryaka — founded by Ajit Gupta, who started Speedera, which he later sold to Akamai — sees a similar need for enterprise customers that want to assure their applications running in the cloud are delivered securely and without expensive, dedicated MPLS lines purchased from carriers. Aryaka, which I saw as a Riverbed -meets-Akamai venture, now has to face an actual Riverbed-meets-Akamai product.

The deal between Akamai and Riverbed isn’t exclusive, but Willie Tejada, VP Application & Site Acceleration at Akamai, said there weren’t a lot of other companies that could provide what Akamai was looking for. The joint solution from both vendors will be out in the second half of the year early 2012, according to the Akamai release.