Content Delivery Networks and the Cloud

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If you haven't noticed, providers of cloud computing services and content delivery networks have been aligning of late.

For example, IBM this week announced a partnership with Akamai under which it will integrate IBM WebSphere middleware with servers that Akamai has distributed around the world to reduce the latency associated with accessing applications in the cloud. According to Andy Rubinson, Akamai senior product marketing manager for application acceleration, the basic idea is that instead of accessing cloud computing applications centrally stored in a few data centers, it would be much faster to access an instance of that application that has been stored on an Akamai server.


As part of this effort, IBM is also making available now a WebSphere Application Accelerator for Public Networks. Down the road, IBM also plans to make two additional offerings, WebSphere Application Accelerator for Hybrid Networks, and a supporting product-IBM DataPower Edge Appliance XE82, which is a dedicated appliance for processing XML.

The relationship between IBM and Akamai is hardly exclusive. But while Akamai is a dominant provider of CDN services, there are those that argue that Akamai has a legacy architecture that doesn't lend itself to custom applications that IT organizations will want to deploy in the cloud. For example, this week Cotendo unveiled a new CDN service called Cloudlet. According to Ido Safruti, vice president of product strategy for Cotendo, Cloudlet allows providers of Web applications to take advantage of a CDN service to push business logic out onto the Internet without having to adjust their code in any way. In contrast, Safruti says legacy CDN environments essentially require customers to conform to their proprietary approaches to delivering content.


There seems no doubt that latency issues in the cloud will mean that IT organizations will have to rely more on CDNs. In fact, Corie Scobie, IBM chief strategist for application optimization, says the services that IBM and Akamai are now providing have moved beyond what might be considered a traditional CDN as cloud computing continues to evolve.

In either case, rather than think about cloud computing as something that needs to be remotely accessed, it might be time to start thinking about cloud computing as a set of cached services located in a server near you.