For Traffic Overload, It's Akamai to the Rescue

1 May 2000
Got problems? We've got solutions. Akamai Technologies can't defuse all of your website ordeals, but they can help your delivery by supplying, as Akamai Marketing Manager Jeff Young explains, "the Internet content delivery service for content providers." If your response is, "Huh?", let me explain what Young is talking about.

Before this year's March Madness began, sports info juggernaut was prepared for a massive onslaught of click-happy customers. Previous experience showed that the droves of traffic during that short period of time could be difficult for the site to handle. This year, however, turned to Akamai for help.

Akamai "Akamaized" the SportsLine site by setting up the graphical elements with new URLs (or more specifically, "ARLs") that were dished out to customers via Akamai's global array of servers. (To date, Akamai has more than 3000 servers and 150 networks in 45 countries around the globe, delivering content for more than 1000 clients.)

The service pays off in two important ways: First, Akamai has numerous options available to route content when individual networks are overloaded or out of service. Second, with so many servers around the world, one of them is likely to be located close to the end user, so the Web request doesn't have to travel long distances for serving.

Thanks to Akamai, SportsLine's site was primed and ready to handle up to twice the data load it was capable of handling during last year's NCAA tournaments, a company spokesman told Interactive Week. (They estimated that between 400 to 500 megabytes of information would flow during peak times.)

Whenever a user typed "," information was delivered from several sources. First, all real-time content was delivered from one of the company's three servers. Then, Akamai delivered photos and other graphical content, while DoubleClick delivered all banner ads. Even though content was being funneled from three different locations by there different companies, customers weren't affected--other than having a quick delivery of the information.

More examples of how Akamai makes the delivery really affective can be seen on two customers' sites: ( and Martha Stewart's site, Check them out and you'll particularly notice how quickly photographs are delivered. Double click on a photo and watch how quickly a larger version is delivered with amazingly crisp and clear quality.

Young says that Akamai delivers content two to 10 times more quickly than a site's own server can.

The service additionally delivers streaming media in a similar fashion.


"For streaming media, the best packets of information from various streams are used to deliver content," Young explained

For example, when the Lord of the Rings movie trailer was made available on, Akamai was behind the fast delivery for the mob of fans accessing the site.

And Akamai delivers more than just speed. On its website (, the company breaks its Internet global content delivery service into three types:

  • FreeFlowTM - FreeFlow forms a transparent layer on the Internet that fits between an eBusiness' Web site and users accessing that site. For the user, no plug-ins or other browser modifications are necessary to achieve enhanced performance delivered by FreeFlow.
  • FleeFlow Streaming - Akamai's FreeFlowTM Streaming exceeds user expectations by delivering the Web's highest-performing, most-reliable streaming media content, including live events, continuous broadcasts and on-demand media. FreeFlow Streaming delivers content by intelligently routing requests across our large distributed global network to the optimal server for each site visitor. Their innovative fault-tolerant technology evaluates real-time Internet conditions, thus eliminating problems caused by server overloads and network bottlenecks. The number of router hops decreases, bypassing Internet congestion, resulting in eye-popping video and high fidelity audio.
  • Strategic Partnerships - Akamai lists a number of strategic partnerships to further enhance the "Akamaization" of the Web.

Getting your site "Akamaized" is easy, according to Young. Keeping in mind that they offer a volume distribution rate, customers can expect charges of $1,995 per megabit of content delivered per second over a month's time. And whether your site is expecting a short-term surge in clicks or you want to speed up its delivery throughout the year, Akamai can help.

You'd be joining a lofty list of clients too. For a company that's only recently passed it's first birthday Akamai has put together an impressive list of clients, including,, Yahoo!,, and

If you're losing customers to long waiting times, then Akamai can deliver your solution by delivering your content and they can deliver it quickly. Find out for yourself by visiting

Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at