The Akamai Story: From Theory to Practice

author: F. Thomson Leighton, Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: Feb. 4, 2013,   recorded: April 2004,   views: 1279
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Description

If you have ever wondered what it means for a website to become “Akamaized,” this lecture about the company’s origins explains much of the mystery. But before there was an Akamai, there were research problems—lots of them. Nearly 15 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, architect of the World Wide Web, asked Tom Leighton to think about solutions to future -- and now familiar-- Internet issues: bottlenecks that form when users flood to a particular site, often along a single Internet supply line. Leighton’s team generated algorithms (and publications and advanced degrees) while figuring out the fastest means to move information from here to there. Along the way, they learned some tricks to outsmart Internet service providers who slow traffic down by bumping competitors’ data from their network lines. Akamai (which means clever and cool in Hawaiian) got its start in the MIT 50k competition, and took off when some big name clients decided to give the company a trial run. Paramount, ESPN, Apple, and Microsoft recognized the importance of Akamai’s Internet optimization strategy: distributing servers and routing software to the “edge” or end users, rather than centralizing services. Akamai survived the stock market “bubble” and collapse, and now serves a diverse global market.

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