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Akamai seeking to show it’s a cut above the usual CDN at IBC

Akamai will try to demonstrate its expertise in a number of different fields at IBC, but the two biggest areas of focus appear to be its ‘Audience of You’ concept, which the company describes as its “mission to help deliver the best possible experience for every over-the-top (OTT) video viewer”; and – perhaps inevitably, for a cloud-based service-provider that wants to retain the trust of content providers in an ever more complex OTT world – the issue of security.

The company will be highlighting its new solutions for linear delivery to complement on-demand services. The company will be showcasing liveOrigin, a solution designed to offer broadcast-quality ingestion, low latency, a ‘self-healing network’ and monitoring reporting for linear delivery. It is perhaps 2 or more years behind rivals to introduce some element of self-healing, usually in the form of load balancing between two separate CDNs.

It will also demonstrate new capabilities for its Media Acceleration content delivery technology. Media Acceleration is designed to enable consistent and reliable delivery experiences for each end user, regardless of local network conditions. Akamai is unveiling new ‘Efficiency’ capabilities that allow applications to access content from multiple paths and sources, meaning viewers receive content securely from the most efficient source available at a given moment, whether that is the Akamai Intelligent Platform or another nearby device streaming the same content.

Other operational enhancements on show will include new server-side ad stitching developed with advertising technology firm Yospace and suitable for live and on-demand streams; and the company’s media analytics tools for monitoring and measurement of video operations and performance.

Those of a bitter and cynical disposition might simply want to see Akamai produce some evidence that it can improve on its current performance, in terms of enabling consistent viewer experiences. The company might claim in response that these enhancements to its technology are designed to do exactly that, while ensuring operators do not also need to work with a selection of other technology providers in order to balance out the performance of the CDN.

On the security side, the company is headlining a day-long forum at IBC dedicated to cyber security, with Jay Coley, its senior director for security planning and strategy, speaking twice: on the value of cross-industry collaboration against cyber-attacks, and on creating cyber security strategies.

Akamai has had a mixed year so far – revenues have increased, but back in May its shares fell sharply (by 13%) after the company’s own forecast for Q2 of 2017 was pitched below expectations on Wall Street. Akamai shares hit a peak price above $70 each in February 2017, following the announcement of a $1 billion buy-back programme, but at the time of writing were worth $46.59.

Meanwhile, back at IBC, Akamai will also be showing off the sort of lovely shiny things you might expect to see rolled out at an event like this: live and on-demand virtual and augmented reality, plus HDR and 3D content delivery.

One would assume that all of this activity is based on a goal of proving that, in scale and the range of (hopefully) value-adding services it can provide, Akamai amounts to much more than just another CDN. It wants us to see it as big, powerful and innovative. Whether these latest enhancements to its technology portfolio will convince the industry that this is the case remains to be seen, as we move towards cloud, not CDN, delivered content.

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