Akamai® Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the leading cloud platform for helping enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences on any device, anywhere, today introduced several important updates to Aqua Ion, the company’s flagship Web experience product. Designed to meet the unique challenges of optimising both the desktop and mobile Web experience, Aqua Ion is ideally suited for organisations serving dynamic Web content to a widely diverse set of users.
The Web delivery landscape is in a constant state of evolution. Fragmentation across browsers and devices has exposed a need among content providers for a deeper view of performance measurement and the ability to optimise for unique user situations. At the same time, the need to optimise differently for each situation presented by an individual user – situational performance – requires new thinking about how to measure the user experience and apply this intelligence to the delivery equation as seamlessly and efficiently as possible. Aqua Ion is designed to help address the staggering range of devices and connectivity situations that can impact the user experience and maximise the performance of content delivered over the Web.
According to a recent report from Forrester Research, Inc., “Optimising a user’s experience requires information about what the user is doing, where the data is located, and where the devices are connecting from, etc. The fluidity of data, users, and applications makes it impossible for I&O teams to effectively manage this world with manual controls, tools, and resources; it is time to have automation take over, which requires fault, configuration, traffic, security, and performance information.”
Akamai pioneered the concept of addressing situational performance with the initial launch of Aqua Ion in October 2012. Since its introduction, leading companies around the globe have used Aqua Ion to help them reduce the complexity of delivering Web experiences, drive better business results through faster Web experiences, and generate greater infrastructure efficiency.
Functionality enhancements in the latest release of Aqua Ion build on these benefits by making the technology faster and easier to deploy and manage; providing greater intelligence related to the user experience; and responding to the increasingly inconsistent user experience across a wide variety of devices.
One organisation making use of Aqua Ion to address the challenges presented by situational performance requirements is Ozsale, a members-only online shopping club operating from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. A pure-play online retailer and recognised leader in its field, the performance and resilience of its online shopping platform is absolutely critical to the company, especially during peak sale events occurring multiple times per day. Further, Ozsale required a solution that could help increase scale and performance on desktop, mobile, and tablets regardless of user demand.
“Akamai’s Aqua Ion solution has helped us to establish a site experience that is second to none,” stated Gavin Cliffe, CTO, Ozsale. “With Akamai, we were able to improve performance for our Australian users by more than 130 percent, and as a result, we’ve been able to generate more online revenue and reduce operational costs.”
The latest version of Aqua Ion – to which existing Aqua Ion customers can automatically upgrade – tackles the need to understand the real user experience, rapidly and easily apply optimisations to meet situational performance requirements, and improve mobile performance. This is accomplished through new capabilities, including:
- Real User Monitoring (RUM): RUM takes passive performance measurements from actual users of a Web experience to provide insight into performance across devices and networks. The addition of RUM to Aqua Ion is designed to help gain greater intelligence around the actual user experience related to the situation presented. This heightened intelligence offers key insight to content providers who can respond accordingly – and deliver smarter optimisations – when challenges are uncovered. RUM is a complementary capability to synthetic testing, and the two can and should be used to gain a comprehensive picture of user experience.
- Enhanced Performance Capabilities: Aqua Ion builds on existing functionality to introduce new Front-end Optimisation (FEO) techniques designed to help apply the best optimisations presented by user conditions. New techniques include DNS pre-fetching, which can help relieve bottlenecks when third-party services are used alongside first-party content, and Placeholder Images, which can help deliver a usable, interactive page to the user sooner.
- Improved Usability and Rapid Configuration: Aqua Ion provides users the agility required to respond to the situational performance requirements of their users through new features designed to make configuration and the implementation of configuration changes as fast and easy as possible. A new wizard-based interface is designed to improve usability by making it easier to implement a solution that is situationally aware. As important, enhancements that enable faster custom configuration pushes to the platform have been introduced to help organisations address user situations more efficiently.
- Enhanced Mobile Performance: The latest version of Aqua Ion now features SHUTR (Suppressed Headers for Uplink Traffic Reduction) support to help improve performance for mobile users. Developed together with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, SHUTR is a HTTP protocol extension designed to reduce the size of HTTP request headers sent by a mobile user agent. SHUTR speeds up page downloads and reduces network data traffic, overall improving the mobile Web experience on Snapdragon processor-based devices.
“As the leading developer of mobile chipsets powering today’s smartest phones, Qualcomm Technologies is acutely aware of the unprecedented data demand being placed on devices and networks worldwide and is pioneering the effort to solve the 1000x mobile data challenge,” said Jason Bremner, SVP of Product Management for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Collaborating with Akamai to optimise HTTP connections via SHUTR is a step forward in addressing these demands and ensuring consumers have seamless connectivity to the vast amounts of data in our hyperconnected world.”
Commenting on the benefit the latest version of Aqua Ion can bring to customers, Mike Afergan, senior vice president and general manager, Web Experience Business Unit, Akamai, said, “Consumers are now in charge of how, when and where they connect to Web content. These varied situations are powerful for online business but create complexity for content providers and can result in a loss of control over the experience and ultimately how well it performs.” He continued, “Aqua Ion simplifies the complexity of modern Web delivery while at the same time providing a faster experience that is highly available, secure and scalable.”
 Fuse Business Acceleration Technologies To Optimize User Experiences by Andre Kindness, Forrester Research, Inc., May 8, 2013
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