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Akamai Introduces New Technology to Enhance the User Experience for Large File Downloads
Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM) today announced the launch of its Large File Download Optimization technology, an integral feature of the Akamai Electronic Software Delivery and Media Delivery solutions that supports the optimization and delivery of increasingly large files, such as DVD software and high-definition video content. To date, Akamai's global platform has been leveraged by leading software, anti-virus, gaming, and media & entertainment companies to deliver many of the largest online files.
As file sizes continue to grow due to enhanced functionality, improved graphics, and richer media content, Akamai offers a unique method for delivering these files and ensuring a positive user experience. The key technology behind Large File Download Optimization is a system for storing, retrieving, and delivering large files as a cluster of individual file pieces. This allows Akamai's customers to increase file sizes in response to market demand, while in parallel leveraging the full Akamai distributed global network to provide a quicker, more seamless download experience for the end-user.
File size growth is driven by many factors, including broadband penetration, larger inexpensive storage devices, and high-definition video. Many companies are now finding it feasible to deliver full DVD images (4-5 GB) over the public Internet. As HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats become popular, it is inevitable that file sizes will grow to 50 GB or more.
"We've released a technology that dramatically enhances the delivery, and therefore user experience, of large files of all sizes," said Mike Afergan, chief technology officer, Akamai. "As part of today's digital media experience, consumers are simply expecting access to richer and more broadband-intensive content. Leveraging our highly distributed architecture, Akamai has developed a unique approach to optimizing software and entertainment downloads, while creating a platform that will support the future growth in file sizes by businesses in all sectors."
There are a number of challenges inherent in delivering large files. First, the average time to download a large file can be significant and many applications may not download all data sequentially. In some cases, applications may actually download the last part of a file before the first part. Therefore, when only a small amount of a file is requested, or a user pauses a download, it can result in the download either failing or being delayed until after the entire file has been retrieved.
The second is the "fat file paradox" – why does data traveling at the speed of light often take such a long time to make it across the country? With the proliferation of large files on the Internet, users are finding that latency between user and the file ultimately dictates throughput or the speed at which users can view content. In addition, network congestion and capacity problems further impact throughput, and these problems, coupled with the greater distance between server and end user, create additional opportunities for packet loss to occur, further reducing quality. The reduction in quality caused by limited throughput and increased packet loss may manifest itself in the delivery of a video encoded at a lower bit rate, or in a significantly increased wait time for a file download to complete.
Finally, many large files are rarely watched in their entirety. Therefore, it is helpful to many software and media delivery companies to store only the portion of a file that is requested by end users in the Akamai network. This way, only the requested portions will be efficiently distributed to the farthest reaches of the Internet.
There are several situations where this is important:
Media Downloads: If an end user requests the download of a 60-minute movie, for example, but only watches the first 10 minutes, Akamai's Large File Download Optimization allows Akamai to only cache the part of the file the user wants to watch and not have to cache the entire movie.
Software Downloads: An end user might start to download a large 5 GB software file, then pause halfway through the download, and resume 30 minutes later. Upon resuming the download, Akamai's Large File Download Optimization allows the Akamai network to only request the part of the file that has not yet been downloaded, rather than transferring the entire file again. This significantly speeds up the experience for the end user.
"Adobe Creative Suite 3 was the largest software release in the company's 25-year history," said Devin Fernandez, product manager for Creative Suites at Adobe. "With six suite editions, 13 point products, nine technologies and two services being rolled out, Akamai was able to provide a solution for our customers that could handle any file size via online download."
Akamai® is the leading global service provider for accelerating content and business processes online. Thousands of organizations have formed trusted relationships with Akamai, improving their revenue and reducing costs by maximizing the performance of their online businesses. Leveraging the Akamai EdgePlatform, these organizations gain business advantage today, and have the foundation for the emerging Web solutions of tomorrow. Akamai is "The Trusted Choice for Online Business." For more information, visit www.akamai.com.