Today’s successful business leaders recognize that mobile apps, immersive web content and high definition video are all essential to elevating customer engagement and empowering employees – not to mention growing revenue and increasing productivity.

But as the Internet of Everything becomes a reality, and introduces seemingly endless opportunities to connect more people, more devices, and more content across a highly distributed network – global Internet traffic is expected to triple by 2017 (Cisco VNI, 2013), and frankly, today’s WAN architecture is beginning to show its age. Ultimately, our customers will need to rethink their current network to accommodate the increase in traffic.

Those deployments will be critical for in-branch revenue growth in verticals like retail – where a connected digital experience for customers and employees can deliver superior performance for a host of cloud applications including eCatalogs, Omni-channel engagement, in store mobile apps, guest Wi-Fi and product demos. This trend also extends to other verticals:

  • Banks opening virtual ‘branches of the future’, with remote experts
  • Schools delivering a content-rich media curriculum on tablets to thousands of students
  • Healthcare clinics sharing large images such as X-Rays, and providing free guest Wi-Fi
  • Enterprises delivering sales or new hire training from YouTube, and more

As more businesses move applications like these to the cloud, the WAN is increasingly becoming a critical component of the infrastructure required to deliver a great application experience – it is relied upon for instant access on any device, and poor performance can result in a loss of revenue.  More than ever, the network has become a strategic business asset to enable enterprises to maximize the potential of the digital era.

Nowhere is this struggle more acute than in the branch office, where users most clearly feel the pinch from rich content struggling to be delivered over bandwidth-constrained networks. The branch is now facing an uphill climb to provide access to media and content rich web apps – like making a sale through real-time offers to shoppers based on historical browsing interests.

What’s New?

Through a new collaboration with Akamai, Cisco is announcing Akamai Connect, a solution that integrates Akamai’s industry-leading caching and content acceleration capabilities with the Cisco “Intelligent WAN” (IWAN) solution.  This is part of Cisco’s broader strategy – taking Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Cisco Intercloud into the WAN to enable a better application experience on any device, over any connection and from any type of cloud – public or private.

Today, Cisco is helping customers step toward that vision of the Cisco IWAN with new features as part of the Akamai Connect offer. This integrated solution will securely optimize HTTP traffic from both the private and public cloud, allowing businesses to seamlessly deliver web applications and content over bandwidth-constrained networks, in a way that improves the user experience, reduces WAN bandwidth requirements and drives down customer TCO.

Extending its partnership with Akamai, Cisco is delivering a new class of optimization services by integrating the best in advanced WAN optimization and intelligent caching techniques directly into the market-leading Cisco ISR-AX branch router family and Cisco WAAS appliances – effectively extending the Akamai Intelligent Platform™ from the Internet directly into the Enterprise branch and data center.  New features include:

  • Transparent Cache: Leverages Akamai’s high performance HTTP object cache for Web applications directly in the branch to create LAN-like performance speeds for Intranet and Internet web applications and offload traffic from the corporate WAN.
  • Dynamic URL HTTP Cache for Public Cloud / Internet:  A high performance object cache from Akamai caches HTTP content despite frequently changing URLs for the same HTTP objects.
  • Akamai Connected Cache: Exclusive technology from Akamai that allows “Akamaized” content to be cached at the branch, allowing businesses to accelerate corporate sites in a branch, or to offload the most popular sites on the web.
  • Content-prepositioning: Enables IT to preposition any HTTP content inside the branch during non-peak hours as well as improve performance during work hours by significantly off-loading traffic from the WAN. It’s as simple as entering a URL into a simple GUI. Examples could be store catalogs, curriculum, digital signage, or training materials.

Akamai Connect provides an optimal user experience while offloading bandwidth for applications regardless of device, connectivity, or cloud. Our customers can expect:

  • In-branch revenue growth with new and improved customer experiences. Businesses will now be able to cache and pre-position content, delivering superior performance for a host of applications including eCatalogs, point of commerce, on-demand training, mobile apps, product demonstrations and social media.
  • Elevate customer and employee engagement with fast web experiences and rich media applications inside the branch, delivering LAN-like performance on any device, over any connectivity and from any cloud.
  • An incredibly simple solution to deploy and manage.  The Akamai Connect capability will be integrated with Cisco’s ISR-AX platforms and physical and virtual WAN Optimization (WAVE) appliances.  It can be enabled with literally a single click.

Cisco and Akamai are bringing together the best in integrated branch networking, advanced caching and Internet traffic engineering to deliver the world’s best optimization solution for HTTP traffic from any cloud. Regardless of your industry – retail, healthcare, finance, education – Cisco Intelligent WAN with Akamai Connect can transform how you engage end users and can accelerate your ability to capture new business opportunities. To learn more about this collaboration from Akamai, visit their blog post.

We’ll be showcasing this solution at Cisco Live San Francisco in a few weeks – this is just one of many new technologies you’ll see there – more to come!

Learn more at cisco.com/go/akamai