The benefits of managed service for applications performance

* Akamai’s perspective on network performance

This is the fifth and last newsletter in a series that has summarized what the presenting vendors had to say during two seminars that Network World recently produced, and Jim moderated, on the topic of network and application optimization. The last four newsletters detailed what was said during the seminars by vendors that require IT organizations to acquire appliances. The fifth speaker, Akamai, is different. Akamai is a managed service provider so no appliance acquisitions are necessary.

We have written about the use of managed services in previous newsletters. A lot of the same arguments for their use vs. doing it yourself apply in this situation. However, a couple of factors that deserve some additional consideration are the level of maturity of the products and the proprietary nature of the WAN optimization solutions. In particular, many of the products in the WAN and application optimization space are relatively immature resulting in something breaking, such routing, QoS, or security. In addition, all of the branch office optimization solutions are proprietary. Taken together, these two factors mean customers have to rely on their vendor to increase the sophistication of their solutions to meet the emerging needs of the IT organization. If that doesn’t happen, the IT organization may have to reinvest in a new solution.

One of the unique aspects of Akamai is in the area of resolving the performance problems associated with accessing applications over the Web. The appliance vendors that address these performance problems do so by implementing techniques such as high performance transport protocols. In addition to implementing techniques like these, Akamai deploys functionality that is sometimes referred to as route control. This allows Akamai to choose the optimum path through the Internet. One of the examples that Akamai gave during the seminar was of an Internet connection between Cambridge, Mass., and Dallas, Texas. When that connection was set up without Akamai it experienced 133 milliseconds of delay and had a 16% packet loss. Akamai claimed that when it set up the connection, it had 44 milliseconds of delay and no packet loss.

The bottom line is that because of vendors like Akamai, customers have a choice. They can implement optimization solutions entirely on their own, they can rely entirely on a managed service provider, or they can deploy some combination of these two alternatives.

Network World will be producing two additional seminars in Philadelphia on May 8 and in Atlanta on May 10. If you are in one of those areas, kindly plan to attend what should be another informative and highly interactive event. After those two events, we will write a couple of newsletters that focus on what was on the minds of the seminar attendees at all four of the seminars.


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