Akamai puts configuration control in users' hands

* Customers of Akamai's Web Application Accelerator managed service can now configure application-specific acceleration parameters on their own

Akamai Technologies unveiled a tool this week that aims to take away some of the pain associated with configuring application-specific acceleration parameters. The new Configuration Manager tool lets users configure and add new applications to be delivered via Akamai's Web Application Accelerator managed service. “We’re essentially putting the ability to control the cloud http://www.networkworld.com/columnists/2008/100108-dzubeck.html into networkers’ hands,” says Neil Cohen, director of product marketing for Akamai. “In the past, our professional services organization would integrate and tune and provide a variety of services to integrate customers’ applications into the environment. Now we’re giving customers the API, the interface through our portal, so they have the option to do self-service and optimize the cloud on their own.”

Akamai Technologies unveiled a tool this week that aims to take away some of the pain associated with configuring application-specific acceleration parameters. The new Configuration Manager tool lets users configure and add new applications to be delivered via Akamai's Web Application Accelerator managed service.“We’re essentially putting the ability to control the cloud into networkers’ hands,” says Neil Cohen, director of product marketing for Akamai. “In the past, our professional services organization would integrate and tune and provide a variety of services to integrate customers’ applications into the environment. Now we’re giving customers the API, the interface through our portal, so they have the option to do self-service and optimize the cloud on their own.”

The graphical interface also provides access to a staging environment that customers can use to test configuration changes before putting them into production. By testing application configuration changes before deployment, the risks associated with live testing are greatly reduced, Cohen says. The integrated testing network also means customers don’t have to build and maintain their own pre-production test environments. “It’s kind of a sanity check, to make sure the configuration changes that you made are going to work,” Cohen says.

Configuration Manager abstracts the complexity of configuration changes, Cohen adds, by asking intuitive questions and guiding users through changes using a menu-driven interface, rather than requiring users to program the metadata.

Customer Toby Harris, a network administrator at Autotask Corporation, says it’s simple to use. “By choosing answers to simple questions about desired application configuration and application performance, availability, scale and security, Akamai’s Configuration Manager automatically generates the configuration files for me,” Harris said in a statement. “It allows me to make application changes quickly.”

The tool represents an important step for Akamai, according to Peter Christy, a principal at Internet Research Group. "By formalizing the configuration of the many Akamai application acceleration services into a well-defined metadata representation, Akamai has provided the means by which customers can specify, adapt, replicate and deploy those optimizations that deliver the most effective outcome on their specific applications, as well as take advantage of best-practices learning from Akamai,” Christy said. “The use of metadata also greatly simplifies testing and staging to production.”

Configuration Manager is available at no additional cost to customers of Akamai’s Web Application Accelerator service. Launched a year ago, Akamai's application acceleration service is a managed service that uses dynamic mapping, route optimization and connection optimization technology to speed the performance of Web applications.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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