Live. Die. Repeat.
Akamai's Edge Conference begins this week and I find the name to be slightly ironic. "Edge" refers to the edge of the Internet, which is where CDNs place their caching servers. Back in the last century this was a valuable concept because it meant you could reduce the distance that static content had to travel by caching it "at the edge" and avoid the primary performance bottleneck: having to retrieve content from the origin server every time.
Fast forward to this century (or should I say "faster forward") and the "edge" isn't as valuable a concept because it ignores the fact that most users are connected to the Internet via some kind of wireless connection - WiFi, 3G, 4G, LTE etc. The wireless "last mile" has become the principal performance bottleneck for most modern web applications.
Solving for the wireless last mile is next frontier in web performance. For those of you who are not convinced, you should read this blog post. Akamai has made several attempts at improving mobile web performance. They acquired Blaze Software, hoping that FEO would be the right solution (wrong). Then they acquired Cotendo, which had some features for high latency — aka mobile — networks (wrong again). More recently they announced Aqua Ion (still wrong).
All this had me thinking about a sci-fi movie called "Edge of Tomorrow" which starred Tom Cruise. In the movie, Cruise's character is in a combat scene where he gets killed — only to find himself in a time loop where he relives the same scene again. Every time he gets killed the time loop starts over. This is reminiscent of Akamai's mobile performance efforts. Every time they try something, they realize it doesn't move the needle and they start the time loop all over again.
Personally I'm hoping Akamai announces a new mobile web performance product at their "Edge of Tomorrow" conference. There's morbid fascination in watching history repeat itself over and over again.
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