Akamai: Need For Speed

While Akamai has made its name serving up compute-intensive applications such as advertising on the Web, the company now sees an opportunity to leverage its content delivery network as a vehicle for accelerating bandwidth-intensive applications across national and global intranets.

"We're seeing more business processes moving out to the Internet," said Kiernan Taylor, director of product marketing at Akamai, Cambridge, Mass. "But when you take a LAN application to the Internet, capacity planning is impossible, so our service eliminates that guessing game."

Called Web Application Accelerator and available now, the service is the first in a series of Akamai offerings that could be delivered to accelerate the performance of latency-sensitive applications.

Those applications could span everything from VoIP to thin-client and conferencing applications to applications built on top of Web services protocols, said Dana Gardner, senior analyst for the Yankee Group. "As more things move to the Internet, people are going to discover that things that they thought didn't have latency issues actually do," Gardner said. "And our expectations around application performance are rising every day."

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To date, Akamai has 43 channel partners worldwide and is actively seeking additional partners to push its service into the small- and medium-enterprise market. Heading up those efforts are Akamai Vice President of Sales Peter Spiliakos and Senior Director of Partner Marketing Tony Amico.

The Akamai service leverages more than 15,000 servers that have been deployed around the globe. Those servers are linked by proprietary software from Akamai that tracks traffic on the Internet and then routes traffic based on the most optimal route to guarantee performance, Taylor said.

Pricing is determined on a per-application basis. Margins for partners reselling the service range on average from 22 percent to 40 percent depending on the application and the levels of services required, Amico said.