Akamai Technologies: Pricey, but Worth It
Akamai Technologies, a content distribution network best known for helping companies distribute Web sites and stream Webcasts on the public Internet, is readying plans to provide service for corporate intranets.
Akamai joins a crowded field in offering services that make it possible for corporate networks to offload streaming traffic when employees use online audio and video to communicate with one another. Akamai intends to roll out its service later this year.
Unlike many rival content distribution networks that built their infrastructure on the Linux platform, Akamai is built primarily on Microsoft's Windows. That focus should make it a popular choice for companies using Microsoft's Windows Media for distributing audio and video internally, says Rolf Carlson, vice president of business development for Approach Inc., a Valhalla, N.Y., company that helps corporations use digital media services. "We're anxious to learn more about Akamai's plans and to add them to our arsenal."
The anticipation is not universal. Akamai has had a reputation for confusing pricing plans at rates above competitors. Instead of flat fees, MFS Invest-ment Management encountered Akamai plans where prices change significantly based on how much network capacity is needed and when it is used, says Jerry Potts, director of marketing communications for the investment firm. "They've just made it so convoluted to work with them," Potts says, describing his company's relationship with Akamai as "turbulent."
The dot-com crash has apparently forced Akamai to cut prices. MTV Networks Online, for instance, spent 14 months negotiating a contract extension eventually signed in March. Proposed fees dropped dramatically between the time of Akamai's first bid and the final contract, says Nick Rockwell, chief technology officer, MTV Networks Online.
Akamai still remains slightly more expensive than other network providers, says George Stemper, chief operating officer of Webcast services provider Visual Data. "For the infrastructure that they bring to the table, they're worth it."
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Conrades headed up Internet service provider BBN Corp., which helped build the Arpanet, the forerunner to the Internet. He's also held executive positions with IBM and GTE, and joined Akamai as its top executive in April 1999.
One-time head of Time-Warner's struggling Pathfinder Web portal has served as Akamai's president since October 1998.
Cofounder is now sole technology leader following the death of cofounder Danny Lewin, on Sept. 11.
Executive Vice President, Global Sales, Services and Marketing
Former EMC sales head now leading Akamai's go-to-market efforts.
Operates network that caches content and applications at the network's edge to speed delivery of Web-based content and applications.
Chief Operating Officer
Project: Streaming services company produces and distributes Webcasts for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Lehman Bros., and uses network services of Akamai and others.
The Williams Companies
Manager, Enterprise Customer Service Apps
Project: Energy company Webcasts hourly industry news updates, and uses Akamai as a back-up delivery system for streaming broadcasts.
Chief Information Officer
Project: Anti-virus software maker uses Akamai to streamline distribution of file downloads to customers.
Premiere Radio Networks
VP, Interactive Services
Project: Syndication arm of Clear Channel Communications uses Akamai to distribute more than 12 terabytes of streaming traffic monthly.
MTV Networks Online
Senior VP, Technology
Project: Cable network uses Akamai to serve streaming video and cache other content for MTV Web sites.
Project: Developer of streaming media-enriched marketing e-mail for Northwestern Mutual Life, eTrade, Nissan and others uses Akamai's network to distribute audio and video messages.
Executives listed here are all users of Akamai technology. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.