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SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Jerry Melnick, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Esmeralda Swartz

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Cloud Expo: Article

Akamai Ups the Ante for Optimized Web Performance and Control

Unique Mobile Optimizations, Faster Performance, and Greater Visibility and Control

Akamai Technologies, Inc. has unveiled several important enhancements to the company's flagship web experience solutions designed to intelligently maximize site and application performance.

As users continue to demand ever more mobile, personalized and dynamic web experiences, organizations of all types must rethink how to best deliver the most compelling content and applications. In addition, device proliferation, emphasis on mobility and other industry trends have forced both online businesses and enterprises to face new situational performance challenges, as represented by industry trends including responsive web design and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD).

Organizations such as MandM Direct, one of the UK's largest online fashion retailers, have turned to Akamai to help them address the challenges of delivering an exceptional user experience, independent of the situation.

"The key business benefit of Akamai's web experience solutions is what they enable, not just what they deliver. For example, the page load performance improvements delivered by Akamai Ion allowed us to implement a single, fully responsive,  website design that serves mobiles, tablets and PC's rather than needing to deliver specific bespoke sites targeted at the individual device types," explained Graham Benson, IT director, MandM Direct. "As a retailer, having a single site that is device-agnostic ensures a consistent user experience irrespective of the access device that the consumer chooses to use. This is very important to us.  And from a marketing perspective, it increases business agility by reducing the maintenance and development windows. A single site is quicker, cheaper and easier to build/maintain than three separate ones. Finally, the implementation of the Akamai FEO technology toolset has meant that our internal IT team does not need to become browser optimization experts. Instead, they can concentrate on the site's functional components, safe in the knowledge that Akamai will take care of the performance elements of the site."

Akamai has brought to market several innovative capabilities intended to help customers overcome mobile, network and browser limitations that can hinder customer engagement and negatively impact business productivity.  Further, new Akamai reports and tools provide greater visibility for companies looking to gain increased control over web site optimization and application performance.  Customers already using Akamai web experience and enterprise solutions can access these capabilities immediately.

Representing the second set of upgrades to Akamai's web experience solutions rolled out this year, these new capabilities deliver the following new functionalities for customers looking to get the most out of their investment with the Akamai Intelligent Platform™:

  • Support for "the march toward instant" – Several feature enhancements in the latest release are designed to address the end-user demand for "near instant" web performance in mobile applications and other challenging situations.
    • Developed by Akamai and available exclusively to the company's customers, EdgeStart combines the benefits of Akamai's globally-distributed network along with accelerated rendering in the browser to help deliver portions of web pages to users immediately and decrease load time. Further, new protocol optimizations are intended to help overcome highly congested networks.
    • Available standard to all Ion customers, Fast DNS offers improved performance – along with Akamai's renowned scalability and reliability – for primary or secondary name resolution with an all Anycast infrastructure.
    • Browser support for advanced image formats (WebP and JPEG XR) is designed to improve the user experience while maintaining image quality.
    • Intelligent use of local HTML5 cache helps achieve dramatic performance improvement in the browser for second hit requests, and requests across similar pages on a web property.
  • Expanded control and visibility – The addition of new tools in the Luna Control Center is intended to offer Akamai customers greater predictability regarding optimizations before they are implemented, as well as significant visibility into exactly what their customers experience after specific optimization decisions have been made.
    • Historical Real User Measurement (RUM) data can provide customers greater visibility into traffic trends and allow them to draw conclusions about ideal performance optimization strategies.
    • Reporting on Adaptive Image Compression affords greater insight into image compression optimization based on the quality of a user's connectivity.

"Increasingly, our customers' users are demanding a near instant web experience," said Mike Afergan, senior vice president and general manager, Web Experience Business Unit, Akamai. "What's more, our customers are looking to improve their control and visibility.  It is our mission to bring to market the web experience solutions that will help our customers realize their goals in today's fast moving environment.  With these exciting new capabilities, we believe we are doing just that.  We are excited to see what our customers and partners will do with these powerful tools."

The latest feature enhancements are available now across the company's Ion and Terra Alta solution lines.

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