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Taneja Blog / Cloud / Data Center Systems

Riverbed and Akamai Team Up to Improve SaaS Application Performance

SaaS providers like have historically struggled to offer a consistent user experience to their clients because of the manner in which their services are delivered over the Internet - through a browser. Like any other internet based service, performance depends on the user’s internet/WAN connection and the route that application traffic takes to the SaaS provider's data centers. The services of SaaS providers like can unfortunately only benefit so much from CDNs like Akamai because of the dynamic nature of the application’s content, much of which cannot be cached in a CDN "cloud". This issue is further exacerbated in companies that require their users to route traffic via a VPN gateway to get to the internet. Adding an additional 3-4 hops across the country and back (or even across the ocean and back) can lead to serious latency issues making the end user experience of many SaaS services unpredictable and is often unreliable.

Enter Riverbed and what it seeks to do with Akamai. By leveraging its WAN optimization experience, Riverbed plans to "light up" the CDN cloud, making it intelligent and friendlier to SaaS and PaaS traffic. By placing Riverbed's Steelhead software in the Akamai network and connecting them with Steelheads placed in internal networks, companies can optimize the WAN between their own network and that of Akamai, creating an end-to-end caching and optimization delivery network to the SaaS or PaaS providers that reside in the public cloud. By placing multiple steelheads at appropriate locations, companies can ensure that their end-user traffic no longer has to traverse multiple hops to get to the SaaS provider and instead "hops on" to the closest Akamai access point to get there in the fastest possible manner.

This partnership will benefit Riverbed in the long term. It opens up newer markets for it to pursue. It bolsters its overall portfolio and makes it appealing to businesses that did not typically look at Riverbed for WAN optimization needs either because their infrastructure did not warrant it or because of their needs in the cloud space. Existing customers of Riverbed will also benefit from the deal as their Steelhead deployments can now be deployed to perform optimization of traffic leaving the data center.

In the process Akamai gains access to Riverbed's Steelheads for the purposes for virtualizing their own content-delivery caching and application-acceleration software. This allows Akamai to move from the edge of the data center to within the company firewall and potentially expand its set of services for internal traffic as well -- making it an appealing performance optimizer for private clouds as well.

This cross movement for the respective companies (For Riverbed from the data center into the cloud, and for Akamai from the cloud to the data center) and collaboration to offer a unified set of services means that businesses can leverage a single solution for all of their private, public and hybrid cloud network traffic, regardless of its destination. This partnership should provide meaningful competitive advantage to Riverbed and Akamai over traditional their respective WAN optimization and CDN rivals.

This partnership is unique and interesting for two reasons.  Firstly it goes on to prove that SaaS by way of “Internet based acceleration and optimization” is sustainable in the long run and appealing to almost every business out there – irrespective of their size and bandwidth they can afford. It promises performance, scalability and security on the network out-of-band to what the SaaS provider can offer. Secondly, such partnerships will steer the way to how SaaS providers virtually move closer to the edge of the data center. No longer will businesses have to differentiate between “in data center” and “outside data center” services.

In our view therefore the Riverbed - Akamai partnership offers a powerful solution for leading SaaS providers in tackling variable performance challenges faced by their (SaaS) customers. SaaS and PaaS providers - many of whom have working relationships with Akamai - should take a close look at this partnership and strive to make their content “CDN-friendlier.” Providers can rest assured that Riverbed's software carries their application traffic in a secure manner across the CDN cloud, protecting their client's confidential data.

  • Premiered: 05/17/11
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): CDN WAN Saas Cloud


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