Akamai Technologies has launched a service designed to accelerate web apps using Web 2.0 technologies, including AJAX, Flash and web services. Akamai operates a huge content distribution network (CDN) providing advanced load management and streaming media delivery for many of the Internet's largest web properties.
Akamai says early adopters of its new Dynamic Site Solutions experienced performance gains "nearly five times that of their original Web infrastructure," while avoiding the cost of additional hardware to support increased server load required by dynamic applications.
"As web site architectures have evolved from static Web pages to the use of dynamic software applications like AJAX, Macromedia Flash and Flex, traditional content delivery technologies cannot service their needs," said Tom Leighton, Akamai's Chief Scientist. "There are inherent challenges and limitations in the delivery of dynamic content that need to be overcome in order to optimize dynamic processing on a Web site. Working alongside our customers, we recognized this trend, and are offering a unique, geographically-distributed solution for accelerating Web 2.0-based transactional content."
There are a large number of start-ups and services based upon Web 2.0 technologies, especially Ajax. As these companies build an audience, scalability becomes a challenge, often necessitating the purchase of additional servers and clustering strategies.
"Dynamically-generated content offers a great opportunity for consumer engagement, but it also presents businesses with a new challenge: richer content takes longer to load in a Web page," said Counse Broders, research director, Current Analysis. "Because of this, dynamic content is harder - and in some cases, impossible - to cache, as dynamic Web sites are regenerated every time a user visits or reloads the site. As site traffic increases, generating pages on-the-fly for thousands of consumers simultaneously can lead to increased delays - and even failures - in delivering content. Akamai is offering a unique solution to this challenge."
Akamai's suite of products can shift processing of dynamic content from the client's servers to Akamai's huge network, and can also "pre-fetch" some dynamic content and distribute it across its network of 15,000 geographically dispersed servers. The suite also incorporates Akamai route optimization and content targeting capabilities.
Akamai's press announcement of the service features testimonials from four users. The companies hail from the banking and retail sectors, and describe gains in their e-commerce and online catalog applications. CDN services are not cheap, and Akamai is the best-known brand in the sector. It's likely that Akamai's target customers are well-heeled enterprises adopting Web 2.0 personalization strategies, rather than start-ups doing Ajax mashups of Google maps data.
Fortunately, some of the innovative Web 2.0 companies that have faced the greatest scalability challenges have also had in-house infrastructure. Digg was co-founded by Jay Adelson, who previously founded Equinix, one of the leading providers of data center space and interconnections.