The Web gets more crowded and complicated every day. As more businesses and individuals access the Internet and all that it has to offer, the need for companies like Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Akamai increases. Founded in 1998, Akamai accelerates content and business processes for a bevy of international clients such as NBC, Audi, and NASDAQ. Each time you access an article online or make a purchase, you probably have Akamai – or one of its competitors – to thank for it.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Willie. Would you give us some context about your division within Akamai. What is the mission of the division?
Willie Tejada: I started at Akamai through the acquisition of a company called Netli. Netli was focused on accelerating applications over the Internet. When we founded the company, the way we described it to the venture community when we were raising money is we do for dynamic applications and systems of record what Akamai does for rich media content. It was focused on the enterprise at a time when there was a lot of data center consolidation.
This was about five or six years ago. In that process, what tended to be a problem for these enterprises as they consolidated the data centers was they still needed to service a user community, for example, in the Asia-Pacific region or the Middle East–Africa region, even though the data center had moved back to North America. That gave rise to performance and reliability problems within their applications. At the time, Netli was founded to help with the delivery of those applications by optimizing and using unique protocols over the Internet to make the applications appear as if they were instant or being serviced to the end user and region.
If you look at Akamai as a business, over the course of 11 years, it has diversified itself. It’s been known as a content delivery network vendor, servicing some of the largest brands in terms of media and online events over the Internet. Essentially, it has made the Internet work for many rich media types of events. What many folks do not know about Akamai is that over the course of the past six years its revenue mix has changed quite a bit in terms of where its business has gone. More than half of the revenue right now that Akamai produces comes from what they typically refer to as their value-added services. It’s not to say that one is not more valued than the other, but the distinction is of a volume-based business verses the value-add business wherein a client pays Akamai for the delivery of an application or a transaction or the protection of an application or a transaction. That area – the value-added businesses – is one that I’ve headed up since Akamai acquired Netli.
The division I run now is called the Enterprise Cloud Division. The emphasis and focus is on making applications that run in the cloud for our customers really work. We’re focused on this area, which we call cloud optimization. The basic premise is that there are a number of performance, scale, and security issues that come into factor for enterprises trying to use the cloud. This is especially pronounced in this next phase that we are [getting] into where there are large public and private cloud environments. Our division is focused on making those application workloads work transparently over the public and private Internet.
SM: Who are your customers? Who are you working with? Is it more in the private cloud scenario, or are you also working with the public cloud scenario?
WT: Well, the root of our customer base is typically on what I’ll say is a Global 3000. Usually, the profile for our customers is that they are doing business on a global basis, but they are working toward cloud, which usually means that their data center environments are moving more to be somewhat large grained. Their private clouds are really private data centers. They are using a mix of software as a service environments, whether that be something like Salesforce.com or Office 365.
Again, access from this has to be transparent, whether the user is on the private MPLS network or accessing it over the public Internet. The large companies are the ones that typically have the largest challenges as it relates to performance, scale and security. So, the focus is on the Global 3000; for every Boeing there is a company like Airbus that is a counterpart. For every Motorola and there is a Nokia and a Samsung, as an example. Our business is focused on those Global 3000 companies as they try to reach their end users, employees, partners and distributors, and manufacturers worldwide with the IT infrastructure they have. Some of it exists in the private and some of it exists in the public environments.