October 09, 2012, 9:07 AM — Akamai Technologies will announce on Tuesday a new service for improving website performance that determines the type of device and network a user has -- and whether the device has an IPv4 or IPv6 address -- and then improves the delivery of Web content accordingly.
The new service, dubbed Aqua Ion, uses technology that Akamai acquired in February from Blaze Software, a Canadian maker of a front-end optimization service. Blaze's cloud-based service automatically optimizes the code on a Web page during the delivery process to ensure faster delivery to a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Akamai is offering a range of what it calls "situational performance" capabilities in Aqua Ion, including the ability to compress images based on real-time network conditions and to respond to requests based on the screen size of the device.
"If you look at 2007 or 2008, most people were on a PC with good Wi-Fi connectivity or they were connected to some sort of LAN and most of them had Internet Explorer as their browser. ... But today that's not how we interact with the Web. There a number of different devices -- smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, set-top boxes -- and the type of connectivity is getting much more varied. It could be a congested wireless network, 3G or LTE. It could be an IPv4 or IPv6 address. When you optimize performance for all of those situations, you really have to be specific about what situation you're trying to optimize for,'' explained Ravi Maira, vice president of Web performance products at Akamai.
While IPv6 adaptation is just one feature of Aqua Ion, it will be increasingly important as the Internet runs out of IPv4 addresses and some carriers and Web content providers use translation mechanisms such as carrier-grade NATs and IPv4 address sharing, which could slow performance.
"Typically, you will find some sort of conversion between IPv4 and IPv6 that is happening in the middle of the Internet, but those conversions points can be very congested because such a small percentage of the Internet is IPv6 enabled and they may not be in the best path," Maira said. "Our platform enables us to accelerate an IPv6 request to edge services by turning it back to IPv4 to go through our network using the best path."