Exploring the edge for 20 years, Akamai gives edge computing new meaning

With the increase in IoT applications, the popularity of mobile office and the continuous enrichment of online business and digital experiences, the edge deployment of enterprise IT is accelerating. IDC pointed out that by 2023, more than 50% of enterprises will deploy new IT infrastructure at the edge, and by 2024, the number of applications at the enterprise edge will increase by 800%. Gartner also further mentioned that by 2025, more than 75% of data generation and data processing will take place at the edge. As a leader in edge computing, Akamai has continued to lead edge computing innovation for the past 20 years. Recently, in an interview with the media, Mr. Li Wentao, head of Akamai’s Asia Pacific architect team, shared his understanding of edge computing and the progress and future prospects of the company’s edge computing solutions.

Exploring the edge for 20 years, Akamai gives edge computing new meaning

Li Wentao, Akamai Asia Pacific Architect Team Leader

Where is the edge?

As shown in the figure below, IT infrastructure can be divided into three layers, namely enterprise data center, cloud computing platform, and Internet edge platform. These three layers complement each other and are suitable for different application scenarios. In Akamai’s view, location determines everything. “As the physical location of the edge is different, the connotation and scenarios of edge computing are also very different.” Li Wentao said. It is understood that Akamai’s edge computing platform has more than 4,000 data centers, all over the edge of the Internet, often only one network hop away from the end user. Location-based computing.” Li Wentao said, “Compared to the cloud data center to end users, the delay is often at the level of 100 milliseconds, and the delay between Akamai and edge end users is usually at the level of ten to tens of milliseconds.”

Source | Akamai

A cloud-neutral edge serverless computing platform

Currently, the dominant form of edge computing is serverless computing. “Deloitte and McKinsey are both highly evaluating serverless computing.” Li Wentao said, “Deloitte believes that serverless computing is a powerful tool for CIOs to innovate IT operations; McKinsey even believes that serverless computing will be the next generation of cloud computing. So people say this because serverless computing has brought many benefits to developers and operation and maintenance teams, such as helping the R&D team to quickly develop applications, reducing the pressure and burden of the IT operation and maintenance team, etc.”

Akamai merges serverless computing with the edge, and the edge computing it provides is edge serverless computing. In Li Wentao’s view, in addition to the value that serverless computing itself can bring, Akamai provides four unique values: First, because computing is performed at the edge of the Internet, Akamai can provide ultra-low latency end-user applications deliver. Second, immediate global deployment. Customers can deploy their business logic on the Akamai global edge serverless computing platform in minutes. Third, integrated security. Akamai is a leading cloud security vendor that integrates its cloud security capabilities into the edge serverless computing platform, so that customers do not need to worry about complex security protection issues such as DDoS attacks and application layer attacks. Fourth, “cloud neutrality”. Edge computing and multi-cloud compatibility are also very important as many enterprises are using hybrid or multi-cloud. Akamai therefore proposed the concept of “cloud neutrality”, which means that no matter which cloud service customers use or their own IDC room, Akamai can provide unified integration services and help customers provide unified security, User performance, and computing services and experiences.

Akamai 20 Years of Edge Computing Innovation Timeline | Akamai

As shown in the figure above, as early as 1998 to 2002, Akamai launched a variety of edge computing products, which can be said to be one step ahead. At that time, the concept of edge computing had not yet emerged. After Akamai launched EdgeWorkers and EdgeKV in 2020, more and more developers began to consider using the Akamai edge platform for edge-native application development, and edge serverless computing was increasingly adopted. According to reports, the market is currently growing at a rate of over 20% globally. “We foresee that in the next one or two years, building microservices and native applications on the edge will gradually become popular, and we have also noticed that more and more developers are actively learning this technology.” Li Wentao said. Akamai is a unique edge serverless computing provider in the industry. Cloud vendors can provide serverless computing power, but there is no serverless computing platform at the edge of the Internet like Akamai. Akamai is leading industry transformation. In addition, because the edge serverless computing provided by Akamai uses the standard JavaScript language, the learning cost for developers is very low and it is easy to get started.

Two technical features

Li Wentao pointed out that the core feature of Akamai’s solution is the distributed edge platform based on Akamai’s globalization, so the first technical feature of the solution is highly decentralized processing. “Akamai will push customers’ applications and business logic to Akamai’s thousands of edge data centers around the world within minutes, and then provide computing services, and provide end-user-oriented ultra-low latency through the edge platform.” He said road. The second technical feature is that the Akamai serverless platform is divided into two parts: computing and storage. EdgeWorkers are computing products that provide customers with edge computing capabilities. Customers can deploy logic to Akamai’s thousands of edge computer rooms around the world through JavaScript code for computing. ; EdgeKV is an edge database that provides data storage services. It is the Key Value database. EdgeKV works with EdgeWorkers to help customers build more complex applications. “Because complex applications involve not only computing, but also distributed edge storage capabilities,” Li Wentao explained.

It is worth mentioning that Akamai recently hosted the inaugural EdgeWorkers Coding Challenge Asia Pacific, allowing participants to explore the potential of edge serverless computing using EdgeWorkers and EdgeKV. The iQIYI team won the first place in this challenge. It is reported that they used EdgeWorkers to deploy DNS over HTTPS at the edge of the Internet, bringing the service as close to end users as possible, successfully reducing the DNS resolution time of global users by 40%, while avoiding DNS hijacking attacks. Qin Jianhua, senior director of iQIYI’s Infrastructure and Intelligent Content Distribution Group (IIG), pointed out: “By using Akamai EdgeWorkers and EdgeKV, we can deploy code to more than 100,000 edge nodes around the world within minutes, and can Sync data in seconds.”

Multiple security options

As a new computing model in the Internet of Everything era, edge computing inevitably faces many security challenges. As the guardian knight of cloud security, Akamai’s revenue in the field of cloud security has made it one of the largest cloud security vendors in the world. “We do not simply push the security responsibility to customers like traditional cloud computing vendors, but provide many security protection options.” Li Wentao pointed out. Akamai platform has rich cloud security capabilities. In addition to basic DDoS protection, there are many application-layer protection capabilities, such as Web application firewall “Kona Site Defender”, zero-trust application access “Enterprise Application Access” and can accurately identify crawlers, “Bot Manager” to defend against credential stuffing attacks. These products are integrated into the Akamai edge computing platform, so that Akamai can provide customers with computing power, storage capacity, CDN acceleration capabilities, and security protection capabilities.

What kind of future is edge computing embracing?

Li Wentao pointed out that edge computing will generate many sub-markets in the future. The first category is software providers. For example, in the field of industrial control, providers of industrial control software will provide software solutions such as smart factories and smart operation and maintenance. The second category is platform providers such as Akamai, which provide enterprises with global edge computing platforms. The third category is security providers. Edge computing carries a large amount of user data, so ensuring security and compliance is an increasingly important area in the future. The fourth category is pure infrastructure, hardware suppliers, 5G providers, operators. “These four areas will develop in the future. Relatively speaking, I am most optimistic about the three categories of software providers, platform providers, and security providers.” Li Wentao analyzed.

Talking about technological breakthroughs and functional updates, Li Wentao believes that the nodes of edge computing will continue to sink in the future. Akamai is currently exploring more possibilities for nodes, such as deploying nodes in wireless gateways, close to 5G base stations, and even pre-installing node capabilities in smart devices and set-top boxes at home to truly achieve unlimited node sinking and panning. On-the-fly edge computing node capabilities. In terms of functional updates, the service capabilities related to the Internet of Things will continue to increase, and the accompanying edge computing capabilities and storage capabilities will also be further improved. Akamai has developed an IoT-specific solution, “IoT Edge Connect,” which helps IoT service providers provide high-speed, low-latency IoT signaling interactions. “I expect that the industry will gradually touch the field of IoT security to improve the security of the Internet of Things.” He pointed out. In addition to the Internet of Things, in general edge computing platforms such as EdgeWorkers and EdgeKV, further improvements in edge computing and storage capabilities will provide enterprises with more edge carrying capabilities for more complex applications. “Akamai’s mission is to bring a better and safer online life to the world. We want our customers to harness the power of edge computing to provide their end users with a richer digital experience, while also helping businesses better digitally transform. “Li Wentao finally concluded.

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