The companys Web Application Accelerator can be used for a variety of applications, Akamai Technologies Inc. noted, including customer-facing portals, collaboration platforms, e-learning environments and business-to-business commerce applications.
Although other application acceleration technologies exist in the market, Akamai is banking on the attractiveness of the managed-service angle, which requires less reconfiguration of applications than an on-site product might require.
The service routes requests through Akamai servers and accelerates dynamic Web application content through a number of techniques, including dynamic mapping of user requests, route optimization technology, connection optimization, and caching technology that stores dynamic pages according to customer-determined rules.
"This is an evolution from our previous focus as a content delivery provider," said Dave Belson, product manager for application-performance services at Akamai. "In many ways, it was driven by customer requests, who have found that these applications are becoming more important to their bottom line."
The move gets Akamai into the enterprise software business as a managed service provider, according to Yankee Group analyst Dana Gardner. Its not a surprising strategy shift, he said, considering that Web applications are no longer confined to "supersites" like Amazon and eBay as they were in the past.
"Increasingly, more enterprises are finding that they have to deal with application loads and network characteristics," Gardner said. "At this point, application acceleration is for anyone that wants a Web environment with high integrity and low latency."
With the release of the Web Application Accelerator, Akamai has gained an edge in the market, Gardner observed. "Competitors havent really moved as fully into the enterprise space as Akamai has," he said. "But thats likely to change, because this is a big growth area, and other companies will be looking to emulate Akamai."
Akamai already has a number of customers for the service, including Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the U.S. Air Force, American Suzuki Motor Corp. and Frictionless Commerce Inc. Belson said that Akamai will be focusing on a number of specific vertical markets, including the financial services, manufacturing and automotive markets, because these sectors are moving toward Web-based enterprise applications quickly.