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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Akamai Technologies Inc says its long-evangelized dream of moving web application logic to the edge of the internet will be realized mid-to-late fourth quarter this year, company spokespeople said,

Kevin Murphy writes

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The company, which pioneered and continues to lead the content delivery network market, inked deals with Microsoft Corp and McAfee.com Inc, announced last week, that will see Akamai deploy .NET services on its network of 13,500 edge-of-network servers.

Akamai is working with both partners on developing the services, dubbed EdgeSuite for Microsoft .NET, which will allow companies to deploy and execute .NET web services applications closer to the end user, for greater reliability and speed. The concept is similar, but more complex, to the now-traditional notion of caching content at the edge.

Director of product marketing Richard Bell said: "We don't see it so much as a new architecture, as a new deployment model." Very few changes will need to be made to .NET-compliant code to allow it to run over Akamai, he said. If it's built with .NET in mind, it can be deployed on Akamai, he said.

"The only decision to make is which parts [of the application] to deploy at the edge," he said. Customers will be expected to run some web services at the edge, primarily involving presentation layer and other cacheable data, while other more database-driven application logic will remain at the origin site. Akamai will make a deployment tool available when the service launch.

As for support for other web services application environments, Java for example, there are no announcements as yet, but the Microsoft .NET relationship is non-exclusive. The company has a six-month-old relationship with IBM Corp to deploy its WebSphere application server, which sets the groundwork for a Java-compatible service, though all Bell would say is: "Stay tuned."

Claims made by rival Mirror Image Internet Inc in an interview with ComputerWire last week that Akamai could see "heartaches" from upgrading its network to support web services, were flatly denied. The company will buy service provider licenses from Microsoft, which are paid for on a usage basis, meaning little capital expenditure.

Bell added that what Akamai has announced it the "only" such edge delivery service to be announced to date. Forthcoming offerings from Mirror Image, also scheduled for Q4, and Cable & Wireless Plc's Exodus are more "managed hosting" offerings, albeit on dispersed POPs, he said.

Akamai has been moving toward the web services idea for some time. Last year the company opened up Edge Side Includes, a markup standard designed for easing deployment of dynamic content to the edge, as the first step towards apps at the edge.

The company has also started to offer XSL Transformations as an edge service. XSLT is used to represent ways to transform data between different XML schemas.

Bell said that XSL transformations are very processor-intensive, and companies can offload that processing to Akamai's network to take some strain off the origin site.

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