News: Akamai Introduces Managed Internet Service for Delivery of Virtualized Applications and Desktops

Akamai Technologies, Inc. has announced the industry’s first managed Internet service for optimizing delivery of virtualized applications and desktops. Utilising core technology from Akamai’s IP Application Accelerator solution this new service is designed to help enterprises realize the cost efficiency, scalability and global reach inherent with the Internet to deliver applications over virtual desktop infrastructure products offered by companies such as Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware.

In February 2009 Gartner forecasted virtual desktop connected devices would grow to approximately 66 million by the end of 2014, which could equate to 15% of all enterprise desktop PCs. Technologies, such as Presentation Visualization or Hosted Desktops, allow organisations to centralise desktop solutions and reduce IT costs. Further significant cost savings can be realised if expensive dedicated international or regional office network links are replaced with connections provided via the Internet.

Yet, the nature of the Internet is such that without reliability and performance of a dedicated network link, especially for globally distributed users. Companies face major challenges in assuring the assuring the performance and scale of services delivering desktop virtualization, including:

  • a user’s proximity from a centralized visualization environment has a direct impact on performance and availability;
  • high amounts of bandwidth can be consumed by virtual protocols – even those such as Citrix’s HDX protocol which is optimised for wide area networks
  • high cost and uptime issues associated with private-WAN connections – especially in emerging territories where outsourcing and off-shoring are commonplace.

Effectively, Akamai are first to market with a managed service where RDP or Citrix’s re-branded ICA – called HDX – traffic can be routed from an enterprise network, via the Internet and delivered to your end devices without suffering the impact of optimizing and accelerating delivery. Akamai’s public-Internet overlay, the company says, also ensures reliable delivery in the cases of natural disasters that can cripple private network connections.

Akamai commissioned a third party test that demonstrated that while the configuration delivered an improvement for users within around United States connecting to a US based data centre there were far larger (over 100% in some instances) improvement for users sited in APAC.

While the tests were carried out on using Citrix’s XenDesktop and Netscaler products, the underlying optimisation is  the same for XenApp – and indeed as the optimisation works on IP traffic it would also allow improved RDP access –  and so accommodating VDI solutions based around Quest Provision, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMWare.

Can this technology help deliver Desktop as a Service (DaaS)? The performance improvement shown in the tests would significantly enhance the end user’s experience. That said, DaaS is more than simply delivering the presentation of the desktop effectively – how those desktops interact with backend services is as important. Here, its useful to note Akamai’s IP Application Accelerator service encapsulates all traffic – be it for VDI or for any application such as SAP, Oracle or Microsoft Exchange. Indeed, the service does not need to inspect the original packets, thus maintaining the integrity and security of the data: if, for instance, data is encrypted, IP Application Accelerator ensures that it remains encrypted. The benefits this managed service can bring to ensuring performance and reliability when using the public Internet will undoubtedly make DaaS a less daunting option.

The managed service for VDI is part of Akamai’s strategic move to become a bigger part of corporate IT than merely accelerating web-content delivery.  With the ability to deliver better performing and reliable Presentation Virtualization services this is very likely a move that will pay off.

For the full announcement – visit Akamai’s site –