Akamai Sets Up Shop in Malaysia

By Charles F. Moreira

Akamai, has set up shop in Malaysia, with an office in the KL Sentral area of Kuala Lumpur, to better serve its customers here, Gary Ballabio, its product line director of Application Performance Solutions told Enterprise IT News on 22 March, 2013.

Founded in 1998, the San Mateo, California-based company specialises in the intelligent routing and optimisation  of data traffic over the global public Internet network, as well as on-the-fly rendering and optimisation of content such as photos and web pages to fit different types of end-user devices such as smartphones, tablets or PCs to ensure easy user access to their online services and a pleasant user experience.

Akamai Gary Ballabio (left) with Asia Pacific & Japan Product Manager Harish Menon

Akamai currently has about 15 customers in Malaysia, mostly airlines , banks and media companies, and with its Malaysian presence, the company hopes to expand its customer base to include any company doing anything on the public Internet.

It’s specialist support teams will be on hand to assist customers to scale up their effective network capacity to facilitate smoother delivery of their content and services, whether media, tele-banking, online shopping, audio or video streaming, big data or whatever to end users.

Akamai caches its customers’ data on close to 120,000 servers worldwide. These servers are installed in the customer’s network or in Akamai’s backbone and 45% of Internet users worldwide are on the same network as an Akamai server, while 90% are within a router hop of an Akamai server,

Online traffic jams
To understand what Akamai servers do, we first need to understand the nature of the Internet and how data is transported over it.

The Internet is a globally interconnected network of networks, with each network comprised of a router or a network of interconnected routers connected server computers (servers) to client computers, tablets, smartphones or machines (clients).

Data, such as this webpage you are viewing along with its text, pictures , formatting and control script is chopped up into finite pieces typically 1,500 bytes long. Each piece is then placed into a digital envelope called a packet, complete with source and destination address and other control information.

The resultant packets are then transferred from Enterprise IT News’  Web server to your PC’s browser over the Internet, not directly but are relayed from router to router in between until they reach your router and then your PC or access device.

The routers open up each packet to see if it’s for any of its clients. If not, it puts the data fragment back into an envelope, looks up its routing table for the address of the next router along the way, adds its address to the packet and forwards it on to the next router.

This process is repeated by each router until the data fragment reaches its destination client, which re-assembles the data fragments back into a web page on your PC’s or access device’s screen.

Each router tales a little time, perhaps a few milliseconds or less to inspect each packet, which results in a slight delay or “latency,” though under ideal conditions, it’s insignificant for end users who would hardly notice it.

The longer the physical distance between server and client, usually the more routers the packets must pass through, hence the delays add up but again, under ideal conditions, this combined delay is acceptable and once again hardly noticed.

However, just like with road traffic, real world Internet traffic conditions are far from ideal, especially when heavy traffic can overwork or even overwhelm the capacity of routers to process, resulting in the equivalent of digital traffic jams in certain places and also lost packets and retransmissions which add to the overall congestion.

Malfunctioning or failed routers also contribute to these digital traffic jams, resulting in unacceptable delays for end users.

Internet traffic warden
Since Akamai servers contain a cache of their customers’ data, then direct data traffic to the nearest server via the shortest or fastest route. They also have a dynamic “weather map” of current Internet traffic conditions and intelligently route the data packets around the congested routers to minimise delays.

As mentioned earlier, they also resize pieces of content on the fly to suit different access devices, which in turn also reduces the amount of traffic through the Internet. Akamai servers also detect the type of of access network, whether fibre, copper, 2G, 3G or 4G and scale the trafic accordingly.

Besides airline, banks and media, it’s customers worldwide also include manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and electronic-commerce operators. Many of them use cloud-based services, whether private, public or both and they expect higher availability, better security and greater agility.

“Akamai delivers 30% of the world’s Internet traffic and the distributed nature of Akamai’s network makes it naturally secure. For example, it naturally protects our customers’ networks by blocking application layer attacks, such as SQL injection from reaching their networks’ infrastructure,” said Ballabio.

Meanwhile, Akamai plans to improve its cloud balancing capabilities and look into other technologies such as mobile services and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications during the rest of 2013.

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