Akamai Provides a Speedier Web for CityU

by Raymond Poon

The Computing Service Centre (CSC) is pleased to announce that the CityU has become the first university in Hong Kong to sign with Akamai for providing free and fast access to many popular Web sites such as: CNN, Mcafee, Symantec, NBC, Reuters and Lycos. With Akamai hosting some or all of their Web contents, these popular sites will no longer need to constantly upgrade their Web servers or even purchase any Web server at all, and yet we, as end users, can expect unfailing deliveries of Web contents quickly and reliably.

How can Akamai do that? By using technologies developed by M.I.T. and with its enormous network reach (Akamai currently has 11,689 servers installed on 821 networks in 62 countries), Akamai servers can detect user locations, connection speeds, browser types and other types of information for each and every content request. This information can then help determine the most suitable server to deliver the content. Moreover, by continuously monitoring Internet conditions and the performance of Akamai servers, a complete, up-to-date map of the best routes around Internet outages, congestion, and other content roadblocks can be maintained. Therefore when a user makes a request to either a Web server installed with Akamai software or the Akamai server itself, the server in question will know which Akamai server is optimally suited to serve the content and instantly direct the request to that server. The Akamai server uses trend analysis of real-time data including packet loss and latency to continuously refresh its map. This comprehensive data gathering and analysis is what distinguishes Akamai from other traffic management services. Thus, an Akamai server is able to detect and react quickly to sudden Internet outages and failures, so that user requests are always directed along the optimal route.


Currently, the CSC has installed three Akamai servers on campus; two are now providing services exclusively to CityU users and one designated as a stand-by backup.