Sally Bament, VP, Cloud & Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

Akamai - Building a Backbone for the Intelligent Edge Platform | Juniper Global Summit

Global Summit 2021 Operations
Sally Bament Headshot
Split-screen from video of Christian Kaufmann from Akamai (left) and Sally Bament of Juniper Networks (right) in home offices, discussing how Akamai has used Juniper products to support its network and deal with surging user traffic.

The intelligent edge platform.

What happens when a business experiences a year’s worth of customer demand in a month? The CDN provider Akamai acted swiftly to secure enterprise customers and meet the growing video and gaming appetites of a world suddenly shut inside. Christian Kaufmann, VP of technology, explains how in this video.

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You’ll learn

  • How software-defined network enables rapid scale  

  • Why Akamai is building a backbone for the intelligent edge platform 

  • How staying close to end users allows for optimal latency and performance

Who is this for?

Business Leaders Network Professionals


Sally Bament
Sally Bament
VP, Cloud & Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

Guest speakers

Christian Kaufmann
Christian Kaufmann
VP, Technology, Akamai


00:00 [music]

00:07 Hello, everyone.

00:08 My name is Sally Bament

00:09 and I am Vice President of Marketing

00:11 for Juniper's Cloud and Service Provider Solutions.

00:14 Joining me today,

00:16 I have the great pleasure to introduce Christian Kaufmann,

00:19 Vice President of Technology at Akamai.

00:21 Christian, welcome. Thank you for joining us today.

00:24 Really appreciate it.

00:26 Thank you, Sally.

00:27 Thanks for the invite and the pleasure is really on my side.

00:31 Thank you.

00:32 In full disclosure, Akamai and Juniper,

00:35 we have had a very strong

00:38 and long-standing partnership for quite some years.

00:41 In fact, Juniper is one of the many

00:43 global companies that benefit from Akamai's robust

00:47 and reliable cloud offering.

00:50 First of all, on behalf of everyone at Juniper,

00:52 thank you for helping us optimize

00:54 our external digital landscape.

00:56 Obviously, a big part of that is

00:58 Thank you for that.

00:59 Thank you. You are most welcome.

01:03 Actually, let me give the compliment back.

01:06 As you know and as we both talk about

01:08 some of the traffic flows over Juniper routers

01:11 so we have to say thank you

01:12 for your services and your boxes.

01:15 You're very welcome.

01:17 Listen, maybe we can start

01:18 and have you tell us a little bit about

01:21 Akamai and just to share scale

01:23 and scope of the network that you've built.

01:27 Sure.

01:28 Akamai is the leading cloud and edge computation platform.

01:36 I think most people know us as a traditional CDN.

01:39 We deliver content since many, many years.

01:42 Recently, we also added security

01:45 and some other products to our portfolio.

01:48 The Akamai platform is actually quite sizable.

01:51 One of our key motivations and one of our goals is to go

01:55 as close as possible to the end-user so that the performance

01:59 and the latency is as good as possible.

02:02 For that, we distribute our platform all over the world.

02:07 We are currently in 135 countries,

02:11 a little bit over 300,000 boxes at the edge.

02:14 As you can imagine, a lot of traffic coming from there.

02:18 Perfect. Thank you.

02:21 I know you've done some interesting things,

02:24 Christian, in terms of building out the backbone to support

02:27 your server environment,

02:29 particularly around your own software-defined network as well.

02:34 Maybe if you could talk a little bit more in detail on that

02:37 particularly the benefits it brings to Akamai's business as well as

02:42 obviously the customers that you serve.

02:45 Sure.

02:47 For the people who know us when we started, traditionally,

02:52 what we did is we actually put a couple of servers depending

02:55 on the need at the given location

02:57 and put them at an internet exchange or into the Eyeball Networks.

03:02 Basically, your access provider.

03:05 That is how we started our CDN business.

03:07 For the longest time, we actually didn't have a backbone.

03:10 We had a couple of servers probably a route in front of it

03:14 and then that was an island

03:16 connected to the particular Eyeball Provider.

03:19 Over time, as traffic profiles and products change,

03:23 what we have seen is that we have more and more traffic actually

03:26 between the various clusters.

03:28 They started to talk with each other.

03:30 That had to do with caching,

03:34 storage, multi-tier caching, and stuff like that.

03:37 At this point, we decided to actually build an own backbone

03:41 to connect the various islands together where there was need.

03:45 That is also where then Juniper came into the play because

03:48 we decided to base the backbone purely on Juniper boxes.

03:53 We use Juniper boxes coming from the backbone side.

03:57 We use them for the backbone.

03:58 There are hundreds of gig links all around the world

04:01 between Juniper routers.

04:04 Then, when we come traditionally more to the metro network

04:07 or inside of a data center,

04:10 then we actually started to use different technologies

04:13 depending on the use case.

04:16 The cluster in itself which is basically

04:19 a couple of routers and the service

04:23 behind, or in a big scenario actually

04:25 where we have our own Clos network

04:27 like a fabric network as we call it.

04:29 We actually run our own proprietary SDN components in it,

04:34 which exit I'll be using, how do we route traffic in between,

04:38 how do we do the traffic distribution and the load balancing,

04:41 is actually done by an in-house software.

04:45 We then also have two flavors

04:47 and that is where the desegregation comes into it.

04:50 For the fabric itself, you can either use Junos,

04:54 and this is where we use you as the software.

04:57 We have it on white-labeled boxes or in some cases,

05:00 we have our own software,

05:02 if you need a little bit less features,

05:03 probably no MPLS or no additional parts.

05:07 Then we have written our own layer two

05:10 and layer three software stack and actually use our own stuff.

05:14 This is one of the parts which we liked on Juniper so much,

05:18 and that you offer these various flavors.

05:21 You offer on one side of box with the operating system.

05:24 Then depending on the use case or just the operating system

05:28 and everything works needlessly together with our own boxes

05:32 where we also run our own software.

05:35 This scale, if you want to call it like that,

05:38 where you can actually choose and desegregate exactly

05:42 as the original idea was the hardware from the software,

05:44 depending on the use case is something

05:46 we really appreciate this Juniper.

05:49 Thank you. That's very interesting.

05:52 Suddenly, a theme that's been top of mind for many is 2020.

05:57 What a year, in terms of massive growth in traffic,

06:01 a huge demands and more than anything,

06:04 just the shifting traffic patterns that happen literally overnight.

06:08 Tell us a little bit about how Akamai

06:10 dealt with those changes in traffic patterns

06:13 and how you might think about doing things differently,

06:16 knowing what you know now about these past 12 months.

06:21 I think we have seen two different things in 2020,

06:27 and especially March was actually the big months.

06:30 Usually, whatever we have on traffic growth for a whole year,

06:35 we basically cap that all in one month.

06:37 2020 March was as much as usually

06:40 a whole year of traffic growth.

06:42 That came actually from two sources.

06:45 One source was one of our products for enterprise security.

06:51 Whatever company now needed

06:53 a secure connection back to their office

06:58 their remote worker could take

07:00 one of these products from us.

07:02 On the other side,

07:03 now a lot of people were at home

07:05 because they also couldn't go out in the evening.

07:09 What we have seen then was a massive increase

07:12 in video consumption, but also in downloads.

07:16 Some of our customers offering

07:18 downloads for PlayStation and other boxes.

07:21 If you then start downloading a 50 or 60 gig file

07:25 as a software update or the whole game,

07:28 then that drives traffic increase.

07:32 Anything that you would do differently

07:35 knowing what now about this past year, Christian?

07:40 No, probably not.

07:42 We always had one of our business models

07:46 or customers where to plan for big events.

07:50 One big event, which was supposed to come last year

07:53 was the European Championship.

07:55 We were a little bit lucky that evening

07:57 the European Championship

07:59 didn't happen for soccer in Europe,

08:02 that what we built capacity ahead

08:05 to actually deal with that event

08:08 was the incoming very handy,

08:12 for the traffic growth or the traffic explosion,

08:16 which we actually have seen.

08:18 I think the biggest changes,

08:20 the biggest lessons learned out of that,

08:23 to be honest, we're not so much from a design perspective

08:29 or from a technology perspective,

08:31 but probably more from a supply chain perspective.

08:33 If certain countries are down.

08:36 China wasn't producing and so on.

08:38 That has an implication.

08:40 Usually, most stuff is halfway just in time,

08:44 but now you have a traffic growth which is quite huge.

08:48 Then you have to basically catch up

08:50 and build all this stuff and new capacity.

08:53 If you then figure out that

08:54 the supply chain doesn't really work,

08:56 then that's certainly an issue.

09:00 One other interesting part was, usually,

09:02 we have a good outline of when we want to upgrade

09:06 and build capacity and the backbone is one example for that

09:10 because you know your traffic growth

09:12 and you have a planning for the future.

09:16 In case of last March, I think whatever we had in mind

09:19 for whatever we need as a new design

09:22 or catch up, or how many boxes

09:24 we have to build in which timeframe

09:28 accelerated quite a bit, right?

09:30 Because now we had to catch up

09:32 and actually build all the parts

09:34 which we have eaten up in one month for the remaining year.

09:39 I absolutely understand.

09:41 I totally appreciate the supply chain demands

09:44 as well in terms of as well competing with everyone else.

09:48 Based on obviously the last 12 months

09:51 and even your experience, what's next,

09:54 Christian, for Akamai what's next for the industry?

10:01 Well, I think we have two parts.

10:03 One is still ongoing growth which we have

10:07 on the traditional CDN platform.

10:10 It's actually funny because I looked

10:12 at our notes when we first talked about

10:15 today's call and repaired it.

10:18 We actually talked about the backbone

10:21 had a traffic range at the time of 40 therapists

10:24 and that was six weeks ago or so when we started to talk.

10:27 I looked it up yesterday and now we are at 64.

10:32 We added basically another 24 therapists

10:35 just on the backbone part between

10:37 our service in just six, seven weeks.

10:41 As you can see traffic growth

10:43 doesn't really slow down on our side.

10:45 That's certainly something which will keep us occupied.

10:49 The other part, what is the next big thing?

10:52 This is always the traditional and good question.

10:55 I think there're two parts coming up,

10:57 even if they're not really well-defined yet.

11:00 One is, what are the implications of 5G?

11:03 I think nobody exactly knows yet.

11:05 You'll get all these benefits

11:07 of increased throughput and speed

11:09 but what does it actually mean for CDN and cloud providers

11:12 and what will the adoption rate be?

11:15 Then you have, of course, IoT

11:17 which fits together with the 5G story.

11:21 We certainly will see more

11:23 in regards of security products in that regard

11:27 but also even more traffic moving to the edge

11:30 which is where we are traditional at home.

11:33 That makes a lot of sense.

11:35 Listen, Christian, I just want to thank you

11:38 for your perspectives, your insights,

11:40 certainly your time as well.

11:42 Always good to catch up.

11:43 Certainly, we look forward to continued partnership

11:47 and partnership momentum going forward.

11:49 Thank you.

11:50 Thank you for your time.

11:51 Thanks to you.

11:52 Much appreciated.

11:53 Thank you.

11:54 Bye.

11:55 Bye-bye.

11:56 [music]

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