Will Akamai's plan to become a major cloud power work? We looked into it.

Is there room for another hyper-cloud company? Market-leading content delivery network (CDN) power Akamai, after its purchase of Linode, a developer-friendly, Linux-based, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud, believes so. Now, with the $900 million purchase done and dusted, Akamai's revealing its plan for Akamai Connected Cloud to challenge Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

To do that, Akamai starts by building on its existing CDN constellation of 4,200 locations across 134 countries. Its new data centers include Paris, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, with Seattle and Chennai, India, opening later this quarter.

Each location features, Akamai claims, a novel architecture design and hardware configuration that enables scalable, high-performance cloud resources for commercial users on Akamai’s global network. These new cloud facilities are the first key to Akamai’s strategy to offer compute, storage, database, and other services atop its global edge network

"Distributed workloads call for distributed infrastructure," said Adam Karon, Akama's COO and Cloud Technology Group GM. He argues, "Legacy, centralized cloud architecture was not designed for the demands of developers and companies challenged with delivering better user experiences that increasingly require putting applications and data closer to the customer.”

Akamai's claims and a fundamental shift

Akamai claims this edge approach to the cloud represents a fundamental shift in how developers and businesses will build, deploy, and safeguard applications and data from core to edge. Of course, this plays to Akamai CDN's strength.

Building on top of its CDN, Akamai also announced its launch of Global Load Balancer. Interestingly, this is being built on top not of Akamai's existing load balancing services, but Linode's cloud-based application load balancers, NodeBalncers. This unified Akamai/Linode service will enable customers to select between local and global load balancing across Akamai’s network.

Once in place, Global Load Balancer will intelligently distribute network traffic across applications in multiple geographies and compute environments. These improved load balancing capabilities will, Akamai promises, ensure no single point of failure, routing traffic requests to the optimal data center to minimize latency.

Will this prove attractive to users? Virtual private server ADTAQ CTO Anthony Brunello thinks so. "Akamai has a real opportunity to bring something brand new to the market. While similar platforms such as Cloudflare and Netlify offer edge-accelerated solutions for static and client-side content, they have yet to deliver compute or database platforms with this same acceleration built in. If Akamai leverages its significant peering footprint to bring its entire cloud computing platform to the edge, it can effectively deliver the best of both worlds."

Global mobile app development company TechAhead CEO Vikas Kaushik also recognizes "the potential of Akamai to become a major player in the cloud market." Again it's because of "their existing CDN strengths and the introduction of the Akamai Global Load Balancer, they have a solid foundation to succeed in this endeavor."

In particular, Kaushik continued, "The forthcoming Akamai Global Load Balancer builds upon its existing strengths, offering a competitive edge in the market. Load balancing is critical for optimizing cloud resources and ensuring efficient service delivery. Akamai's ability to leverage its existing infrastructure and integrate it seamlessly with its load-balancing solution positions them well to gain significant market share."

A shift to the edge

Additionally, Akamai has launched new premium instances offering consistent performance, predictable resources, budget allocation, and simplified SKU management for larger commercial workloads.

The company also announced it's doubling its object storage product's capacity to one petabyte and one billion objects per bucket. This enables businesses to access higher data volumes to build scalable, high-performance, and low-latency cloud-native applications and analytics solutions.

Put it all together, and will Akamai's edge-oriented Akamai Connected Cloud prove a game changer? It might just.

As David Linthicum, Deloitte Consulting's Chief Cloud Strategy Officer, recently told me in an interview, "To become efficient with your cloud architecture, you must quit sending everything 5,000 miles away when you can collect data on-premise or on the edge and do the backend system processing as needed close by. To me, the edge is an architectural evolution that has pragmatic advantages that people should always think about."