Tag Archives: Akamai

Review of my 2012 predictions

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Gosh, didn’t 2012 go quickly? It was always going to be a year of counting down the months, weeks, days and hours to the-greatest-show-on-Earth, and then getting back to reality. And the-greatest-show-on-Earth didn’t disappoint – what an amazing event London 2012 was.

Here are the predictions I talk about in December 2011…

1. The Olympics summer of proof-of-concepts

We saw lots of electronic display advertising around London in the run up to the Olympics, and Google updated their rich snippets to display sports results during the Olympics. Each of the sponsor brands also carried out some innovation during the Games.

Prediction rating: 8/10

2. Social to level off, but will become a central hub for our activities.

Facebook isn’t quite the walled garden that I thought it would be, but it’s getting there very quickly. At Endava we are working with some customers to enable their services to work inside Facebook – and these are customers that you would have thought would resist social media more than others. My wife hardly uses email any longer – she uses Facebook messages because there’s zero chance of spam, and from her perspective, only her Facebook friends send her email anyway. Skype video calls working inside Facebook only confirm this prediction.

Prediction rating: 5/10 (I reckon I was a year early).

3. A big tech failure

I was discussing both commercial and technical failures here – and I have one answer: RIM. Between February and October the RIM BBM outages strongly affected the share price by almost two thirds, although it’s doubled since October.

Prediction rating: 9/10

4. Mobile payments

Well done Barclays for launching PingIt in February. And with Barclaycard’s PayTag (the NFC sticker), you can now pay for buses using a mobile phone linked to your credit card.

Prediction rating: 8/10 (dropping points because only one bank is offering such services)

5. 3D printers after the Olympics

I thought I was wrong (or at least, too early) here, but thanks to Danny, an architect at Endava, he said that he’s been reading about 3D printers all over the press now. I don’t understand why they haven’t taken off. There are already websites popping up with 3D designs such as www.shapeways.com and www.thingiverse.com.

Prediction rating: 5/10 (It’s here – but still too geeky)

6. Akamai stock to rocket around EURO 2012 and the Olympics.

At work this prediction was classed as too easy. It’s a worldwide recession, and Akamai stock rose from $28 in mid-July to $35 at the end of the month. It’s now $39. If it was such an easy prediction chaps, let me know if you bought some shares!

Prediction rating: 10/10

7. More toolbars

As predicted, I’m seeing many more JavaScript toolbars at the expense of installed toolbars.

Prediction rating: 10/10

8. Home automation to make a comeback

You can now buy a remote central heating service from British Gas for £150 – after the first 10,000 consumers liked the technology. There’s also Nest, the best looking thermostat you can buy. Personally the thought of wrestling the family with the central heating iPhone app as the 21st century version of the TV remote is a bit daunting.

Prediction rating: 8/10 (why do we need to automate the oven or curtains anyway?)

Total prediction score of 63 out of a possible 80. Pretty good going. Must try harder next year!

 

Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report

I can’t believe it’s been two and a half years since I last wrote about the Akamai State of the Internet Report.

The latest Akamai State of the Internet report has been released and as usual it’s interesting reading. The Internet continues to grow at a fast rate, both in terms of the sheer number of users and connectivity speeds. Unfortunately the side effects of security also continue to increase.

Akamai is a huge cache network of servers that make it faster for end users to access websites, and usually cheaper for the website company.

This means that Akamai stores the pages that we visit on a server closer to our computer. So when you visit say, www.domain.com, you might go to an Akamai server to see the content rather than domain.com’s server.

Akamai serves approximately two trillion requests for Web content every day. In the second quarter of 2012, over 665 million devices with an IP address, from 242 countries/regions, connected to Akamai.

Bearing in mind that in some cases multiple individuals may be represented by a single IPv4 address (for instance everyone in your home will probably share a single IP address, and most companies work on this model too), so this is likely to equal around a billion users.

Some highlights from this quarter’s report are below.

Security

The top 3 countries with originating security attacks are (in order) China, USA and Turkey. These 3 account for 36% of the Internet’s security attacks.

Speed

The global average connection speed grew 13% to 3.0 Mbps, and the global average peak connection speed grew 19% to 16.1 Mbps

In the second quarter of 2012, average connection speeds on known mobile network providers ranged from a high of 7.5 Mbps down to 340 kbps. Average peak connection speeds for the quarter ranged from 44.4 Mbps down to 2.5 Mbps.

Mobile

For users of  mobile devices across all networks (Wifi and the various cellular data networks), Apple’s Mobile Safari accounts for approximately 60% of requests, indicating that significantly more users of iOS devices use these devices on Wi-Fi networks — heavily driven by iPad and iTouch usage.

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If you look at pure cellular data, the most common web browser is Android Webkit, which indicates a significant number of iOS users only use Wifi.

Mobile_browsers

Amount of users (IP addresses)

  1. USA (142m IP addresses)
  2. China (93m)
  3. Japan (39m)
    UK is in 6th place with 26.5m
    Brazil grew the fastest – an extra 12% to 21.5m IPs

 

The full Akamai State of the Internet report can be found here.

 

Eight Digital Media Predictions for 2012

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To continue what I started in 2010 and 2011, here are my technology predictions for 2012:

1. The Olympics summer of proof-of-concepts

A huge amount of corporate investments will go into the Olympics, so we’ll see them spend their money on sponsorship and advertising more than product development. This will mean we’ll see a lot more cutting edge, proof of concepts (in adverts) rather than market-ready new product launches.

2. Social to level off, but will become a central hub for our activities.

Just like you currently open your browser to look at a number of websites, I expect your homepage will be a Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn page which will then keep you within the ‘walled garden’. Expect to see a close tie up between the social networks and a search engine (Google or Bing).

3. A big tech failure

Expect one of the big websites to collapse which has been too dependent on more and more VC funding rather than its own revenues. We’ll witness the collapse and realise that our own data has gone with it, and then we’ll realise how important that data really is.

4. Mobile payments

It’s been a long time coming, but 2012 will be the start of mobile payments. I don’t think consumers will be paying via our phone in 2012, but you’ll see the banks start the education process using advertising and proof of concepts to enable consumers to see that by the end of 2013 we won’t need a credit card any longer (except when the battery runs out).

5. 3D printers after the Olympics

If it weren’t for the Olympics, I think 2012 would have been the year of the 3D printer. You can already buy them from under £2,000 and that printer will fall as demand increases. 3D printers will compete with Windows 8 for Christmas presents next year.

6. Akamai stock to rocket around EURO 2012 and the Olympics.

The Content Delivery Network Akamai will be covering the two biggest sports tournaments of the summer for most broadcasters around the world. With encoding bitrates (quality) constantly increasing to end viewers, they will be handling record levels of traffic during the summer. More traffic will mean significantly increased revenues.

7. More toolbars

In a bid to keep their logos on the screen in ever more engaging user interfaces, expect to see JavaScript toolbars being used more regularly, sitting like a taskbar inside your browser. This is not to be confused with browser toolbars – I don’t think you’ll be proactively installing anything.

8. Home automation to make a comeback

Its been possible to connect your household appliances to a computer for many years. The problem has been selling it as a technology rather than a function – and this made it marketable to geeks and no one else. With apps such as Sky Anywhere, people will want to turn their heating up, or switch the oven on while they are commuting home from work.

Photo courtesy of FL08 on Flickr

Wireless warfare

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A friend of mine is a soldier in the army. His role as an engineer is to set up a wireless network as soon as his regiment has moved into a new position. Setting up the wireless network takes is one of the first priorities when the soldiers move because the generals need to understand where the soldiers are – all the time. They don’t use telephone networks because most of the time the war is being fought in a foreign land (and there’s probably some breach of the terms and conditions of using a roaming network whilst invading a country).

Yesterday a group of us at work listened to the Akamai State of the Internet report. Akamai publish the report each quarter. Akamai probably has a wider view of the global Internet than any other company because they work at a transport and application layer, across multiple Internet providers, and serve so much of the Internet traffic all the way to end users.

One of the sections of yesterday’s report showed that during the Egyptian and Libyan uprisings, the government switched off the Internet. Akamai showed their traffic patterns, and it showed a flat line during these ‘outages’.

Back to my friend in the army. In past wars, aircraft used to drop leaflets over the countries they were invading (or rescuing, depending on your viewpoint) to explain to citizens what they were doing and why they were doing it (your government are the bad guys). In the recent Israel-Gaza war, both sides used voice mails and text messages (as well as the old fashioned leaflets) to warn citizens what was going on.

In the future though, when foreign governments see uprisings such as Egypt and Libya, expect them to deploy Internet hot spots for the public when the host government switch it off. With the amount of mobile and YouTube video content being shown on the news stations at the moment from current middle east uprisings, it’s not unfeasible for the press to provide these hot spots.

Photo courtesy of Dunechaser on Flickr

10 years since joining

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This time ten years ago I joined IMG as the Development Manager to build a new Content Management System.

The digital division within IMG was about four years old at that point, and had bought the digital rights to a number of sports organisations with the hope that the advertising and sponsorship on those sites would cover the costs of writing huge cheques to the sports organisations. ‘Hope’ is a strong word, because at the time the Internet bubble was at it’s height, and we all thought we’d be billionaires by Christmas.

When I joined, IMG was pulling out of a number of these deals, and looking for efficiencies with the tiny development teams.

The Internet was so different back then. Products were very expensive. Vendors and ‘experts’ were all learning as they were going along – so when we got stuck, we were well and truly on our own. For instance we tried different CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to handle the huge amount of traffic we were experiencing, and ended up creating our own using Cacheflow servers. Just looking up the link just now made me laugh – because these boxes used to be the size of a fridge, and now they’re the size of a PC. Once we’d got the Cacheflows stable, we simply migrated to Akamai.

I remember people, including the CTO, would sleep in the office when we expected incidents to happen. I remember arguments with database vendors about licensing – some wanted to charge for every visitor that accessed the website, because they saw that as a database user. I remember running analytics reports on websites that used to take several days to compile, and when we wanted to run the report again with a different metric, all the numbers in the report would change! That same report in SiteCatalyst now takes a second to run and end users run it themselves.

Most of the really difficult stuff back in 2001 is now a commodity. Half of those products now have a freeware solution.

In around 2005/6 I moved to the client side – project management and operations. The CMS was very stable, and it was time to look at a decent off-the-shelf solution because we were losing pitches because of our lack of multi-lingual support, versioning, WYSIWYG editing and advanced SEO support.

We chose Sitecore as the CMS platform, and for the first time we looked at offshoring to India to migrate our sites. Three months of total pain followed. For the first time since joining IMG, we missed deadlines (in sport, although it sounds obvious you can’t miss deadlines – most of the time you might as well not deliver anything than deliver a project late). We pulled the projects back to the UK and an army of contractors joined the development team. Some were good, some weren’t. We started to offshore to Eastern Europe instead. And it was a revelation:

  • Being able to fly there and back in a day (not recommended, although possible and sometime necessary);
  • The cultural similarities; 
  • The push-back nature from developers on some of the requirements.

Then in late 2008 we looked to outsource more work to Romania via Endava. What started off at a simple outsourcing deal changed at the last moment, and the staff TUPEd over to Endava in January 2009.

Since then we’ve worked on some new projects outside of sport, and the Web has become a stable, maturing, controllable entity. In 2001 we were looking only to stabilise our clients’ sites.

Our traffic (bandwidth, visitors and page impressions) have all increased exponentially in ten years, with some exponentially, several times. Social Networks have come and some of them have gone. Do they compete? No, they simply direct more and more traffic to our clients’ sites.

And now to the future. In 2011 we are looking at providing data insights, personalised experiences, full integration with back off systems, and providing a true ROI for our client’s digital properties.

Akamai Digital Media event

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Yesterday I went to the a Digital Media event hosted by Akamai. Here are a number of key points from the session:

  1. Only 1% of video is currently delivered over IP (i.e. the Internet). This will keep growing as more TVs are Internet enabled. This probably accounts for why Akamai and the other CDNs share prices are doing so well, outperforming the indices and competitors (see chart above).
    1. Video IP usage is up more than a third from 2009
    2. and we’re watching video almost 50% longer.
  2. The UK is well advanced of the US in terms of peer to peer – most of the UK’s broadcasters use it, whereas in the US it is only used for illegal file sharing.
  3. 60% of Europe’s iPhone market is in the UK. This explains why our sites have low iPhone usage globally. (It’s worth noting that the time spent on apps makes up for the low iPhone usage).
  4.  Akamai are bringing out some interesting new services on their Edge network. Other organisations who own huge numbers of web servers such as Amazon and Microsoft are virtualising their environment and renting it out as well known Operating Systems (e.g. AWS and Azure both can both run as Windows servers, sold by the hour). Akamai are working differently by expanding Value Added Services to their customers – keeping the technology proprietary.

All in all it was a good day, hearing about a number of new technologies and an excellent case study from Adam Lynch at The R&A.

 

The Internet equivalent to keying a car

Well, clearly I’ve been upsetting a few people recently, because since yesterday this blog has been a victim of a DOS (Denial of Service) attack!

A DOS is the Internet equivalent to keying a car – pure hate, no ‘reward’ for the criminal, and just sucks up the victim’s time and resources for several days.

To help prevent DOS attacks, websites can use technologies such as CDN (Content Delivery Networks), such as Akamai. So if you go to a site such as FIFAManchester United or The R&A, you’re actually going to a server hosted by Akamai. And Akamai have literally hundreds of thousands of servers around the World, so they can handle the DOS attack. This is one of the reasons why their share price is doing so well.

With Akamai, the website pays for the data traffic, so during a DOS attack, huge amounts of data are served. So Akamai answer this by offering a ‘DOS insurance’ policy to mitigate the data costs during a DOS.

The whole 9 years

On May 31 2001, I joined IMG Digital. Actually, I joined TWI Interactive, but either way, that makes it 9 years and a day since I started my current role. The role has also changed quite a bit since Head of Application Development. In fact, pretty much everything has changed!

TWI Interactive was reorganised a number of times before stabilising itself as IMG Digital, which was then outsourced to Endava in January 2009.

Gone are the proprietary content management systems, and in their place are the off the shelf ones.

It’s almost amusing to think that back in 2001 we were trying to rollout our own content delivery network (now we mainly use Akamai and some customers have corporate accounts with Limelight). It’s also amusing to think that the content delivery network we were building was to support 28k video streams!

Traffic has risen 100 times. I remember when our sites broke through the million unique visitors level (and let’s face it, web logs weren’t exactly the most accurate measurements).

I could go on, but frankly most of you would find it boring!

Whilst we’ve done so much in 9 years (working with some amazing people, helping Microsoft with the launch of Vista, mobile messaging and application development, huge traffic), the next year will undoubtedly be the most interesting. We have a number of huge launches over the coming 12 months, from some of the biggest brand names out there.

Here’s to another 9 years – although it’s scary to think about my kids ages at that time!

Akamai’s State of the Internet

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A couple of weeks ago Akamai published a quarterly update to their ‘State of the Internet‘ report.

For those of you unfamiliar with Akamai, they have a network of servers that serve most of the content that you consume on the Internet – for instance the BBC doesn’t have thousands of servers providing the BBC website and iPlayer – they outsource the delivery of the web pages and video to Akamai. By ‘outsourcing’ the delivery, website speed increases significantly and the website can become less vulnerable to security attempts.

The report usually has an unhealthy technical bias towards the Internet. Yes, we may all need want to know how many more people came online in a quarter, but month after month it can become a little dull.

This quarter’s report has a number of gems tucked away beneath the surface:

  1. Akamai is now serving so many mobile phones, that from the next quarter they will start separating the mobile data reports from the fixed line data. This is a significant move in the industry – a real recognition that the mobile era has fully come of age.
  2. Global mobile network speeds range from 100Kbps to 3.2Mbps. 10 years ago geeks were at home unpacking our their 56k modems! Now, as a global range, the minimum speed of handsets browsing the web is twice that speed. There are homes in the UK that are unable to access more than 1Mb connections – with mobile networks delivering 3 times that speed.
  3. The countries with the highest number of IP addresses per capita (basically, everything connected to the Internet needs an IP address) are Norway, Finland and Sweden with 0.49, 0.44 and 0.43 respectively. All of the top 6 countries have a ratio of 0.4 or higher. That’s 4 IP addresses per every person in the country. The¬†Scandinavian¬†countries are higher undoubtedly through their mobile handsets – many of these countries have more than one mobile handset per person.¬†
  4. In terms of Global Connection Speeds, the highest European country is Romania (which comes fourth globally, behind South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan), with an average connection of 7.2Mbps. To put this into perspective, the US has an average connection speed of 3.8Mbps. (Shameless plug: this is ideal for our near shore development and managed services teams in Romania!).

If you have a spare 30 minutes on the tube over the next week, I’d recommend you download it here (you need to supply and then validate your email address first).