Akamai adapts for life in a mobile world

Front-end optimization makes dedicated smartphone sites a thing of the past, according to Akamai

Content delivery accelerator Akamai Techologies has launched a service for adapting websites to the device used to access them, which it says also simplifies the upgrade to IPv6.

The service, Aqua Ion, has been shaped by the increasing diversity of devices used to access websites, and is composed of technologies Akamai has acquired and developed in-house.

The most important addition is the front-end optimization, which to a large extent is the result of Akamai's acquisition of Blaze Software.

"Blaze's technology has been re-engineered to have it scale across the Akamai platform," said Joel Reid, Akamai sales manager for Enterprise in the U.K. and Ireland.

The front-end optimization allows Akamai's network edge to decide how a website should be presented depending on what device and network is used to access it, all based on a set of pre-defined rules.

PCs, smartphones or tablets are identified using Akamai's device characterization, which now has the ability to make finer distinctions about the software they run too.

"For example, if we know that there are certain limitations with a browser, we can make a decision based that," said Reid.

No software or code changes are required for the front-end optimization to work, so instead of having to build a special site for the smaller screen of a smartphone, Akamai's network can do that content adaption for enterprises, according to Reid.

For end users the implementation of front-end optimization will result in faster access to websites, Reid said.

Another new technology for Akamai, and one that was developed in-house, is adaptive image compression. It allows the company's network edge to compress an image on the fly based on the available bandwidth.

"We know that we can, because of the screen resolution on a small smartphone, compress an image quite a long way to ensure the optimization of the delivery without impacting the image quality," said Reid.

Akamai has also improved its ability to cache dynamic and personalized content, he said.

Aqua Ion will also allow sites to talk to devices that use IPv6 without having to re-engineer their current IPv4-based infrastructure, according to Akamai.

The need for enterprises to start preparing for IPv6 is growing ever more important as the availability of spare IPv4 addresses dwindles. That's key in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia, where RIPE NCC, the authority that allocates IP addresses for the region, has started to hand out IPv4 addresses from the last block that it holds.

"Our solution gives enterprises the time and chance to upgrade all their kit," said Reid.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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