Akamai today unveiled a strategic initiative to extend the reach of its global network out to applications deployed on the network edge.
Announced at the Akamai Edge World conference, the Edge Cloud portfolio will consist of a mix of existing, new and forthcoming offerings. In terms of new offerings, Akamai launched IoT Edge Connect, which provides access to the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol that gives internet of things (IoT) applications access to a publish-and-subscribe service. Akamai claims IoT Edge Connect will scale to support hundreds of millions of endpoints and is capable of processing 10 times more messages than other IoT or in-app messaging cloud solutions. Those capabilities not only will optimize data delivery, but also should also reduce the amount of power devices will need to send messages, according to the company.
Scott MacGregor, senior director of engineering at Akamai, said IoT Edge Connect will join Akamai Over The Air (OTA) Updates, an existing service for updating applications using a wireless cellular network, in the Edge Cloud portfolio. Those two offerings will be joined in the future by a key-value store that will make it possible to store data on a local IoT gateway and a tool for running functions on an IoT endpoint, he said.
Akamai intends to provide the same capabilities it makes available to web applications to a new generation of edge computing applications that need access to a global network, MacGregor noted. In some cases, the data those applications need to access will be stored on local gateways. In other cases, the data being accessed will be stored within the network managed by Akamai. DevOps teams tasked with building IoT applications would view the Akamai network as just another platform they need to push code to from whatever continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) platform they choose to employ, he said.
In general, MacGregor said many organizations underestimate the challenges associated with building and deploying distributed IoT applications at unprecedented levels of scale. IoT applications that span global networks are challenging to build, and the processing occurs at the edge, on local gateways and in the cloud.
Akamai, of course, is not the only provider of a global network looking to entice organizations to leverage their infrastructure to deploy edge computing applications. Everyone from carriers including AT&T and Verizon to cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft are making similar cases. It’s too early even to hypothesize which platform providers might ultimately triumph. Akamai, however, is counting on its relationships with developers to become an edge computing force to be reckoned with, said MacGregor.
Akamai made its mark in the enterprise by providing a global content delivery network (CDN) that web developers leverage to extend the reach of their applications by leveraging cache memory Akamai makes available on a global network. Since then, the company has been extending the service to include a range of security services that isolate web applications from various potential threats. If Akamai has its way, those same services soon will be pervasive across a broad range of edge computing applications.