Read The Akamai Network: A Platform for High-Performance Internet Applications; skim Section 9. This paper, from 2010, describes the Akamai platform, which improves the performance of technologies that the Internet was not designed for (e.g., streaming video). Akamai's headquarters are right down the street from MIT.
The first six sections of this paper give context and motivation. Akamai's actual platform is not described until Section 7. In Section 8, the authors walk through an example of how Akamai's platform maintains availability in the face of different types of failure.
As you read, think about the following:
- What are Akamai's design goals?
- What happens when a user visits a particular URL? How does the content get to their machine?
- The paper differentiates between a "content delivery network" and an "application delivery network". What is the difference between "content" and "applications", and why does this difference matter to Akamai?
- Why wouldn't a peer-to-peer network suffice for Akamai's purposes?
Question for Recitation
Before you come to this recitation, you'll turn in a brief answer to the following questions (really—we don't need more than a sentence or so for each question). Your TA will be in touch about exactly how to turn that in.
Your answers to these questions should be in your own words, not direct quotations from the paper.
- The paper mentions "end users" and "customers". Who are Akamai's end users (are you?)? Its customers?
- What aspect(s) of the Internet's infrastructure is Akamai's platform designed to overcome?
- How is the platform designed to overcome those aspects?
- Why is it necessary for Akamai to overcome those aspects?