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Akamai aims to integrate cloud capabilities into its edge network
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

Akamai Technologies has detailed plans to interweave cloud computing capabilities into its large-scale edge network. The move represents a step forward in Akamai’s strategy to carve out its place as the chosen cloud computing platform for firms keen to deploy workloads closer to users, devices, and data sources.

The latest strategic move comes as part of Akamai's continuing mission to be a key player in enterprise multicloud environments. The company’s vision centres on a novel variety of clouds, specifically designed to cater to the demands of contemporary applications that need higher performance, lower latency, and true global scalability – something that current cloud architectures simply weren't designed to provide.

Akamai’s sights are set on a rapid, practical roll-out plan for its Generalized Edge Compute (Gecko) program. In its initial phase, announced today, the company aims to embed computational capabilities, with support for virtual machines, into 100 cities by the end of the year. Thus far in 2024, Akamai has launched new Gecko-architected regions in a range of global locations, including Hong Kong SAR, Kuala Lumpur, Quertaro, Johannesburg, Bogotá, Denver, Houston, Hamburg, and Marseille. There are plans to deploy in Santiago, Chile, by the end of the first quarter.

Known as Gecko, the initiative underpins Akamai’s strategy to fast-track the company’s distribution of the world’s broadest cloud computing platform. This comes at a critical time in the tech industry, as a worldwide study conducted in 2023 by ClearPath Strategies found that two-thirds of IT decision-makers expect their use of distributed cloud services to increase over the coming year. More than a third of respondents consider the benefits of distributed cloud – including the capacity to process and analyse AI and machine learning data rapidly and efficiently – to be a critical facet of their IT strategies.

Akamai has performed early trials of Gecko with a number of its enterprise customers. The company expects that customers involved in AI inferencing, multiplayer gaming, streaming media and social media are in prime positions to capitalise on the power of Gecko. Akamai envisages future use cases in immersive retail, spatial computing, data analytics, and consumer and industrial Internet of Things.

"Gecko is the most exciting thing to happen to the cloud in a decade", said Dr. Tom Leighton, Akamai Co-Founder and CEO. "It's the next phase of the roadmap towards a more connected cloud we laid out when we acquired Linode to add cost-effective, cloud-native computing capabilities to our portfolio. With Gecko, we're furthering that vision by combining the computing power of our cloud platform with the proximity and efficiency of the edge, to put workloads closer to users than any other cloud provider. When we say we operate at planetary scale, this is what we mean."

Furthermore, Akamai notes that conventional cloud and edge networks are treated separately, but Gecko is designed to leverage generalised compute atop Akamai’s existing extensive global network. This will move traditionally heavy compute – typically confined to centralised data centres – to the edge of Akamai's network, bringing full-stack computing to hundreds of previously hard-to-reach locations and enabling customers to move workloads closer to their users.

Akamai is leading on assurances made when it acquired Linode by rapidly integrating compute into its security mix and delivery, said Dave McCarthy of IDC. He notes that what Akamai is now achieving with Gecko is emblematic of the more distributed cloud world we're heading toward, driven by demands to situate compute and data closer to the edge.