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Akamai Overview

for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners


Executive Summary
The Akamai Accelerated Network Partner (AANP) program is a way for ISPs
and other network providers to reduce upstream bandwidth costs and free up
peering capacity while providing high speed Web delivery to their end users.
The document provides an overview of the AANP program, including details on
how Akamais services work in general and within the AANP context.

Table of Contents
Akamai Overview
Background and Network Snapshot ................................................. pg 1

The Akamai Accelerated Network Partner Program

AANP Program Benefits.................................................................... pg 1
What an AANP Deployment Looks Like............................................. pg 3

How Akamai Content Delivery Works

How Akamais Dynamic DNS Works ................................................. pg 4
AANP Inputs to Akamai Mapping...................................................... pg 5
AANP Subscribers Mapped Elsewhere .............................................. pg 5
Akamai Caching and Cache Control .................................................. pg 6

Akamai Failover and Support

Akamai Platform Failover ................................................................. pg 7
The NOCC and Network Support....................................................... pg 7
Scheduled Maintenance.................................................................... pg 7

Partnering with Akamai

Partnering with Akamai ................................................................... pg 8

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

Akamai Overview
Background and Network Snapshot
Founded in 1998, Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM) is the global leader in Internet content
delivery and application acceleration. By delivering content requests from servers located near
the end user, the Akamai Platform significantly increases end user performance while decreasing
network infrastructure and bandwidth usage.
The Akamai Platform currently handles
approximately 20% of the worlds Web traffic,
delivering content for the vast majority of top
media, entertainment, retail, and technology
Web sites and companies.

Key Akamai Platform Statistics

Deployed in over 950 networks

Serving approximately 20% of

global Web traffic

Serving hundreds of billions of

The amount of traffic delivered via the Akamai
requests daily
Platform is growing at a rate of 70-100%
annually. As such, the Akamai network
continually evolves with a server deployment strategy that reflects the changing number of
Internet users and traffic volume across different networks and geographies.

The Akamai Accelerated Network Partner (AANP) Program

The Akamai Accelerated Network Partner (AANP) program plays a critical role in Akamais goal to
deliver content from as close to end users as possible. In this mutually beneficial arrangement,
partners agree to co-locate Akamai servers within their own networks. The partner provides rack
space, power, IP address space, and occasional Hands and Eyes support for the Akamai
servers, at no cost to Akamai. In return, Akamai provides servers and the service that enables
the partners subscribers to receive some of the Webs most popular content delivered at
exceptional speeds from within their networkat no cost to the partner.

AANP Program Benefits

Once the Akamai servers are installed, the
partner enjoys several key benefits:
Improved end user performance. When
subscribers receive Web content delivered
from Akamai servers within the partner's own
network, performance and reliability are
greatly increased.
Internet bottlenecks like peering points,
backbone congestion, routing inefficiencies,
and network latency are effectively eliminated
for the partner's subscribers as content is
delivered from close to the end user.

Key AANP Program Benefits

Exceptional Web performance for


Reduced upstream transit

bandwidth expense

Increased effective peering point


World-class technical and

marketing support, network
monitoring tools, and 24/7
network support

In a decade of testing for thousands of customers, Akamai has consistently seen performance
improvements ranging from 2 times to over 10 times for content cached and delivered from its
servers at the edge of the Internet, compared to delivering the content from centralized servers.
While performance benefits are significant even for users requesting content originating within
their own country, the increase in speed can be truly dramatic for internationally-based content,
as connectivity and latency delays have a greater effect over great distances. Akamai helps

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

eliminate performance barriers so that end users across the globe enjoy a responsive Web
experience, no matter where in the world the content is hosted.

Figure 1.
Akamai offers speeds
nearly 4 times faster
than the origin server
for the file download
shown here.

Because Akamai delivers approximately 20% of the worlds Web traffic, including content from
many of the Webs most popular sites, AANPs are able to deliver a superior end user experience
for a significant portion of requested content. This, in turn, allows the AANP to increase
subscriber satisfaction and differentiate themselves competitively.
Increased peering capacity and reduced upstream bandwidth expenses. Because the
most popular content delivered by Akamai is cached on the Akamai servers, upstream bandwidth
requirements and transit costs are reduced for AANPs, as caching greatly reduces the need to
repeatedly retrieve the content from the origin server.1 Reducing upstream traffic also eases
pressure from the AANPs peering points, enabling the existing peering points to effectively serve
more end users and allowing the AANP to postpone potentially costly equipment upgrades.
Furthermore, the bandwidth reduction, performance, and reliability advantages of Akamai
become even more significant as the Web moves toward richer, more dynamic sites with
increasingly heavier media such videos and downloads.

Figure 2.
Akamais Network
Partner Portal displays
near real-time reports
comparing traffic served
to end users (red) with
traffic pulled from
upstream providers

Note that unlike general-purposes caches, however, content freshness for Akamai-delivered is completely
controlled by the content provider / origin Web site, ensuring that end users receive exactly the version of
content that was intended. This is discussed further in the caching section of this whitepaper.

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

What an AANP Deployment Looks Like

An AANP server deployment varies depending on the projected volume of different types of
content in that network. A minimum deployment consists of three servers with a single switch.
Machines in a deployment can perform different functions and can be re-imaged and configured
remotely as Akamai dynamically manages capacity for different types of content.
The AANP typically needs to provide:2

Standard 4-post, 19 racks with 10x32 holes preferred (most other rack types can be used,
if necessary)

2 rack units per server, plus 1-3 rack units per cluster for switches

225W per server

1 Gbps (Copper, Singlemode or Multimode Fiber) to 10 Gbps (Singlemode fiber) uplink

Two public IP addresses per server (contiguous block strongly preferred)

Clear maintenance and shipping procedures

Hands and eyes assistance for maintenance and initial installation

Because they have the most familiarity with their own network, the AANP typically performs the
hardware installation and IP address assignment. Akamai provides detailed instructions as well
as on-call technical support for the initial deployment process.
Akamai servers are deployed outside the AANPs firewall and should be treated like any other
Web server on the Internet. No changes to the AANPs network configuration are needed.
Once the machines are racked, powered, and assigned IP addresses, Akamai handles the software
installation, system integration, and server monitoring remotely. Akamai monitors its entire
network 24x7 from several locations worldwide, including its main Network Operations Command
Center (NOCC) in Cambridge, MA. Akamai generally performs maintenance remotely as well, but
may occasionally require Hands and Eyes assistance from the AANP. Akamais NOCC is also
available around the clock to answer AANP questions or troubleshoot issues as they arise.

How Akamai Content Delivery Works

The Akamai Platform is a robust, self-healing overlay network that adapts in real-time to the
Internets current capacity, demand, and connectivity conditions. At its core is a DNS-based
mapping system that allows Akamai to direct each end user request to the optimal Akamai edge
server for delivery of content, based on the current conditions of the Internet and the Akamai
These edge servers maintain caches of Akamai customer content and thus can often serve the
requested content to the end user without requiring retrieval from the origin server. This speeds
performance for end users while reducing upstream bandwidth requirements for the AANP.
Akamais highly efficient caching and mapping algorithms work together to produce extremely
high cache hit rates, greatly reducing network usage for Akamai customers and AANPs alike.
An AANPs subscribers will oftenbut not alwaysbe directed to Akamai servers within the
AANPs own network. In the following sections we will talk more about:

How Akamais DNS system works, including how Akamai handles mapping the AANPs
subscribers to Akamai edge servers.

How Akamais edge server caching is controlled to ensure freshness and maximize

Server and network hardware specifications may change with time and with the traffic requirements for each
specific AANP.

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

How Akamais Dynamic DNS Works

When an end user requests content that is served by Akamai, the systems intelligent DNS
system dynamically resolves that users DNS queries to direct him to an optimal nearby server.
The system uses a dynamic two-tier mapping algorithm that works as follows.
The first, high-level map determines which Akamai cluster should handle the request. This
map, updated every few seconds, makes use of a vast amount of real-time and historical
Internet performance, topology, and resource availability data to determine the best cluster for
each user request. Input to the high-level map includes:

BGP feeds from networks, along with a comprehensive database of IP mapping information,
to determine the closest clusters to the user, both geographically and topologically

Contract terms, including rules that ensure that an AANPs end usersand only the AANPs
end usersare directed to clusters within the AANP

Granular Internet latency, packet-loss, and throughput conditions based on continuous

Akamai global performance testing

Current cluster health, capacity, and load information

Knowledge of which content is stored or allowed to be stored in each cluster

Once the user is mapped to an optimal Akamai cluster, a cluster-specific low-level map
chooses an optimal server for the user, based on factors like real-time server health and
capacity, as well as the content each server already has cached. This process is illustrated on
the next page.
Note that among other things, Akamais dynamic DNS automatically performs sophisticated load
balancing both within each Akamai cluster and between Akamai clusters. AANPs do not need to
provide any additional load balancing mechanisms.

Akamais Dynamic DNS Resolving an End User Request

Here is the flow of information that typically takes place when an end user requests content
that is delivered by Akamai. The entire process is transparent to the end user.

Users Web browser requests (a URL for content that is delivered via


Users local DNS name server resolves and receives a CNAME
redirect to, an Akamai domain: CNAME


Users local name server resolves and is sent to an Akamai Top Level
DNS (TLDNS) server, which uses Akamais high-level map to determine which cluster to
send the user to. The TLDNS directs the requester to a specific cluster through
delegation to a cluster-specific Akamai Low Level DNS (LLDNS) server.


Users name server then sends a request to the LLDNS, which uses Akamais
continuously updated low-level map to return the IP address of an optimal Akamai
server within that cluster to handle the request.


Users name server thus receives the IP address of a dynamically chosen, nearby,
optimal Akamai server to deliver to the end user. The name server
returns this IP address to the browser


The browser requests and receives content from the local Akamai

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

AANP Inputs to Akamai Mapping

Akamai works with each AANP to ensure that:

The AANPs subscribers are served content from the optimal Akamai cluster within the AANP
as often as possible, and

End users who are not AANP customers are not served content from the AANP.

In order to do this, Akamai needs to know which IP addresses are part of the AANP network. In
particular, Akamai needs to know the IP addresses of the nameservers that the AANPs subscribers
are using. This is most effectively provided through BGP feeds that keep Akamai updated on which
prefixes should be served by the Akamai cluster within the AANPs network. Communicating this
information ensures that users are mapped the appropriate clusters for optimal performance. This
topic is discussed in greater detail in a separate document entitled BGP with Akamai.

AANP Subscribers Mapped Elsewhere

Akamais high-level map will point the AANPs subscribers to clusters within the AANP network as
often as possible. However, there are situations where this will not occur. There are two
primary reasons for this, which we discuss in more detail below:

Not all Akamai clusters serve all types of content

The AANPs Akamai clusters may be temporarily unavailable or over capacity

Not all content served from all clusters. Although Akamai has deployed servers in over 1500
data centers around the world, not all content will be served from every cluster. This is due to a
number of factors.
First, different types of content require different types of servers, and not every cluster will have
all types of servers deployed. The table below lists the four main types of Akamai content servers.
Server Type

Content Type

File Type Examples


HTTP Delivery

Web Sites

.html, .gif, .jpg, .png,

.pdf, .swf, .js, .css, etc.


(Akamai Linux + custom



.zip, .exe, .pdf, .mp3,

plus custom file types


SSL content (Web

sites and downloads)

same as above

SSL (over

Streaming Media Windows

.wma, .wmv, etc.


Streaming Media Flash



SSL Delivery3
(Akamai Linux + custom
Windows Streaming
(Windows/Windows Media
Server + custom apps)
Flash Streaming
Communication Server +
custom applications)

All standard deployments have HTTP Delivery servers. Windows Streaming, Flash Streaming, and
SSL Delivery servers are installed in larger deployments, depending on end user traffic volume.
Additionally, Akamai may restrict certain customer content to subsets of the Akamai network to
meet specific customer requirements. For example, customers may have restrictions on which
countries may host or serve their content.

Note: Every Akamai server can and does serve SSL content; however only SSL Delivery
servers are able to do so with customer-owned SSL certificates.

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

Akamais high-level maps maintain information about which content can be served from which
clusters and ensure that end users are only mapped to clusters that can serve the particular type
of content they have requested. If an AANPs subscriber requests a piece of content that cannot
be served from the AANPs Akamai cluster(s), then the subscriber will be mapped to a nearby
Akamai cluster outside the AANP network for that particular request.
AANP clusters unavailable. As part of the Akamai networks fault tolerant design, an AANPs
subscribers will automatically be mapped to alternative clusters in the case that the AANP clusters
are unreachable. This may happen if the cluster is offline for routine maintenance or if a
temporary outage occurs for any reason. Additionally, if the cluster is out of server or bandwidth
capacity, some of the traffic will be served from elsewhere.
Akamai continuously monitors its clusters, and when it detects that an AANP cluster is unavailable
or over capacity, the high-level map will automatically update to direct users to the next best
cluster, based on current Internet performance conditions, etc. This process is transparent to end
users, who will continue to receive their requested content (from the next-best location) without
interruption. When the AANP cluster comes back online or has spare capacity, users will
automatically be directed back to the AANP network for their Akamai content.

Akamai Caching and Cache Control

When an Akamai edge server receives a request for content, it will first check to see whether the
content is in cache. If so, it serves the content directly from cache. If not, it asks all other
servers in the same cluster. If no server in the cluster has the content, it retrieves the content
from the origin server and serves it to the end users, saving the content in cache for the next user
who requests it.
Not every file can be cached, but the vast majority of traffic served by the Akamai network is in
fact served from local cache. By providing its customers with a flexible set of cache controls,
Akamai enables them to maximize cacheability while ensuring the correctness and freshness of
every piece of content. For example, Akamai customers can set a different cache Time-To-Live
(TTL) for every piece of content or across groups of similar content.
When the TTL expires on a piece of content, Akamai sends an If-Modified-Since (IMS) request to
the origin server. This is a small request, asking if the content has changed. If the content has
not changed, the TTL is reset, and the Akamai server continues to serve the object from cache
without downloading it again.
Some example cache control settings are given in the table below:
Example Content


Example Cache TTL

Version-named software download


30 days to indefinite

Logo image, embedded graphics, style



1 to 7+ days

Web site home page

Moderate to Low

30 minutes to 2 hours

News or scores


1-5 minutes

Stock quote

Very Low

15 seconds

HTML page for: shopping cart, discussion

Not Cacheable
forum, personal information


Because Akamai customers are able to easily optimize cacheability, they maximize their origin
traffic offload and end user performance benefits. This in turn means AANPs enjoy the very same
benefits: a high degree of bandwidth reduction and end user performance improvement.

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

Akamai Failover and Support

Akamai Platform Failover
Akamai started with the premise that the Internet is a constantly changing environment, which
means at any given time there are any number of failed links, down Akamai clusters, and even
entire networks that are offline. Designed to operate in this dynamic and unreliable Internet
environment, the Akamai Platform has self-healing fault-tolerance built in at every cluster and for
every function, from content delivery to DNS service to metadata and software rollouts.
Each server in a cluster has two IP addresses. The first is used by Akamai to administer the
servers; the second is the public-facing address used for content delivery. If a server goes down,
another server in the same cluster will assume the downed servers public IP address and continue
serving content to end users, much like HSRP or VRRP. The recovered IP address is then taken
out of the low-level map and no end users are directed to that address in the future. If the entire
cluster fails for any reason, Akamais dynamic DNS system will direct users to the next best cluster
in seconds.
Since Akamai continuously monitors Internet conditions as well as the health of each Akamai
cluster, outages, connectivity problems, and capacity issues are rapidly and automatically
identified and incorporated into Akamais mapping and DNS systems. This means users are
quickly and transparently directed to alternative good clusters to serve their requested content.

The NOCC and Network Support

The Akamai Network Operations Command Center (NOCC) monitors the Akamai network
24x7 and may contact AANPs for occasional Hands and Eyes support if there are problems
serving the AANPs end users. In addition, the NOCC is always available for AANPs to contact at
any time for service-related support or for any other issues.
The NOCC is reachable 24x7 at:

Voice: +1-617-444-3007

US toll-free: 1-877-6AKAMAI (1-877-625-2624)

Fax: +1-617-444-3685


The Akamai Network Support group serves as an escalation point for any AANP issues. Issues
may be escalated to them from the NOCC, and they can also be contacted directly to answer
questions about server performance, server operation within the AANP network, or for other
network or relationship-related questions.
The Network Support group currently operates during business hours
(9 AM to 5 PM Eastern Time) at:

Voice: +1-617-444-0089

US toll-free: 1-888-421-1003


Scheduled Maintenance
In the event that the AANP needs to schedule maintenance during which the servers would lose
connectivity or power, the NOCC should be contacted with at least 24 hours notice.

Akamai Overview for Akamai Accelerated Network Partners (AANP)

Partnering with Akamai

Since Akamais inception, AANPs have played a critical role in Akamais network strategy, and
hundreds of network providers around the globe have teamed up with Akamai to accelerate
performance for their end users.
As with any enduring relationship, there are strong benefits for both sides. By being able to
deploy servers as close to end users as possible, Akamai is able to provide exceptional
performance, reliability, and scalability for its customers. In exchange, AANPs enjoy bandwidth
cost savings and superior performance for its subscribersall at no cost. Furthermore, as the
amount of content Akamai serves continues to grow, AANPs will benefit from even greater
bandwidth reductions and high speed performance for an even greater percentage of content.
We thank you for your interest in the AANP program and hope you will join the 1000+ networks
and 2500+ customers who currently work with Akamai. For further information about the Akamai
Accelerated Network Partner program, please contact your Akamai representative or the Network
Support team at:

Voice: +1-617-444-0089

US toll-free: 1-888-421-1003


2008 Akamai Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.
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publication date; such information is subject to change without notice.