Akamai Boosts Web, Mobile App Performance

Akamai is adding two new products to its Terra Enterprise Solutions portfolio to use the cloud to improve IT performance in a number of areas, including application delivery, video streaming, security, Web site acceleration and more. On a Webcast Tuesday, Akamai executives introduced a new product that dramatically improves Web application performance and another that lets applications and Web sites open on mobile devices as quickly as they do on desktop computers.

March 21, 2012

5 Min Read
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Akamai is adding two new products to its Terra Enterprise Solutions portfolio to use the cloud to improve IT performance in a number of areas, including application delivery, video streaming, security, Web site acceleration and more. On a Webcast Tuesday, Akamai executives introduced a new product that dramatically improves Web application performance and another that lets applications and Web sites open on mobile devices as quickly as they do on desktop computers.

It joins scores of other companies offering various performance improvements and network services, to deliver more content more efficiently to a broader array of devices, including more mobile ones, with lower latency and better security than has previously been available.

Akamai, which is known for application delivery technology, says its existing Web Application Accelerator (WAA) is good, but its new Terra Alta solution surpasses it in performance. Terra Alta extends Web application acceleration all the way from the data center to the network edge, explains Andy Champagne, vice president of technology and product in the Enterprise Cloud Division of Akamai.

“The ability to take acceleration and pull it all the way into the data center and accelerate the entire leg of the transaction ... really helps to improve end user performance in use cases where the last mile into the data center is problematic,” he says.

Another feature of Terra Alta, called Akamai Instant, allows it to “pre-fetch entire HTML pages” and associated content, says Champagne, that would be a logical next choice for the end user to select. For example, if a car maker displayed all of its models on one page, Akamai Instant would fetch the pages that would describe each model in more detail.

Also, Terra Alta eliminates what he calls “duplicate data in dynamic applications.” Champagne gives the example of a sales management tool that might have the same information for each sales person in an organization, but would only differ by the user name and other user-specific data. With Akamai technology called the Enterprise Edge Appliance, the system de-duplicates content that would otherwise have to traverse the network multiple times.

In a demonstration, the company showed a mock-up Web site running live on the Web and showed that running as is, it took an average of 10 seconds to complete a transaction. With one click, the app site was switched to run on the Akamai platform with Terra Alta and the response time dropped to 1 second.

Also new is a product to make Web site and Web application performance on mobile devices match that of the desktop experience. Compuware’s Gomez platform is well-known technology to measure the performance of Web applications. According to Gomez benchmarks, it takes a mobile Web site from 7.7 to 8 seconds to open, versus 2 seconds on a desktop computer, says Pedro Santos, VP of the Mobile Business at Akamai.“So there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the performance of mobile web sites and applications,” he says, citing user surveys that 71% of consumers expect Web sites to open on a mobile phone as quickly as they do on a desktop computer, and that 77% of organizations today have mobile web pages that take longer than 5 seconds on average to open.

To improve mobile Web performance, Akamai is introducing Aqua Mobile Accelerator, that seeks to overcome the inherent limitation of mobile Web delivery such as the latency of cellular networks, the constant movement of users through cell coverage areas, and the myriad devices they are using such as cell phones with different designs and processors. It also takes into account whether the user is connected through their carrier network or a wi-fi hotspot.

Among the features of Aqua is what the company calls “Mobile Tuned and Caching and Acceleration,” which is tuned for mobile networks and is deployed near mobile gateways, Santos explains. Another feature, “Device Detection and Redirect in the Cloud,” determines whether the endpoint device needs to get the mobile version of the Web site or the desktop version, depending on the device and the connection.

Akamai produced a beta user of Aqua Mobile Accelerator for its launch, Lee Clancy, VP of consumer products, for Trulia, a real estate listings site. Home sellers or real estate brokers list properties and home buyers browse. They can also select several criteria for what they’re looking for in a home -- location, number of bedrooms, price range, etc. -- and they’ll get pinged each time a home becomes available that matches their criteria.

“You’ve all been there. You’re browsing a map on some Web site and you’re waiting for those tiles to load and they continue to not appear,” Clancy lamented in a short video. “We use Akamai to make sure there are no hiccups along the way.”

Akamai has been adding modules to its Terra Enterprise Solutions over time to meet growing demands placed on networks to do more work in the cloud, deliver more streaming video, connect to mobile devices and provide better security in the face of growing cyber threats, says Rick McConnell, executive vice president of products and development at Akamai. He presided at another Akamai launch event a few weeks ago in San Francisco at which the company announced a partnership with Riverbed Technology to jointly offer a solution to reduce the latency in software-as-a-service delivery environments.

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