If Only Akamai Would Read Our Blog, They Would Learn How Wireless Impacts Performance


Something interesting happened this week and it underscored why we believe that traditional CDN vendors are stuck in the past.

During the Q&A at Akamai's Q2 Earnings Conference Call, financial analyst David Dixon from FBR Capital Markets asked a question about “momentum in the mobile space.” Akamai CEO Dr. Tom Leighton gave the following reply:

“First on the mobile question, as I mentioned before, we're seeing a rapid penetration of mobile devices that if you measure in terms of applications that we would transact, roughly half being on a mobile device. Now the large majority of that is on Wi-Fi so, ultimately, it's going across a landline connection. Still, a small fraction of mobile is over cellular.”

Uh, did he really say that?!? (You can actually hear it yourself here).

We can all agree that customers using mobile devices and wireless to access the web is growing rapidly. But that statement (in bold above) highlights the difference between the traditional CDN view of the world and how Instart Logic sees the world.

CDN’s are fundamentally designed around moving content across the Internet and caching the static portions at the edge of the Internet closest to the end user. The architecture of a CDN stops at the edge (of the Internet). In today's world of wireless access and mobile devices, that's not enough.

It sort of reminds me of an old cover illustration from The New Yorker:

(source: The New Yorker)

CDNs are like New Yorkers — parochially focused on the problem they know best — and relatively oblivious to today's real application delivery challenges: mitigating congestion in the wireless last mile and dynamically adapting to the seemingly infinite combination of device form factors and browser characteristics. Saying that “wireless ultimately [goes across] a landline connection” ignores wireless access as the most impactful performance bottleneck in application delivery today. It's kind of like saying the hardest part of getting from New York to California is crossing 10th Avenue.

If you want to understand in more detail why this is true then I encourage you to read my colleague Lane Williams’ excellent blog post on the topic, “Mobile & WiFi: It’s a Noisy Conversation!”

Instart Logic is the only company with a true end-to-end architecture that addresses today’s application delivery challenges. Our approach, software-defined application delivery, provides significant performance benefits by abstracting the application delivery path and using software to control and optimize application delivery.

Is your CDN stuck in the past? Tweet me your thoughts @dwhsieh