Akamai Acquires Blaze, Adds Frontend Optimization Services: Here’s What That Means

This morning Akamai announced they have acquired Blaze Software, a cloud based provider of front-end optimization (FEO) services. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the numbers will come out, maybe even by Akamai during their earnings call today. Either way, I'll update the post once I hear what value was placed on the deal. FEO is going to be a big push from all the CDNs this year and Akamai needed to acquire someone to add a FEO product to their portfolio. This acquisition is probably also to combat Level 3 which has been working closely with FEO provider Streangeloop and has been having success in taking some big deals away from Akamai as of late.

FEO might sound similar to another subject I have written about lately, dynamic site acceleration (DSA), but it's very different. DSA's focus is to bring network resources closer to the user by pre-fetching or caching files. FEO makes the content itself faster. DSA makes page resources download faster. FEO reduces the number of page resources required to download a given page and makes the browser process the page faster. For example, analysis shows that popular sites like CNN, who already use a CDN, can double current performance by implementing FEO.

There are a lot of small FEO vendors in the space and many of them have now been acquired or teamed up with larger CDNs. While some might think that Akamai's recent purchase of Cotendo gave them a FEO product, that's not something Cotendo was doing. Blaze is now owned by Akamai, Limelight acquired AcceloWeb, Strangeloop is working with Level 3 and Riverbed acquired you also have stand-alone FEO services from Aptimize. Here's a slide that helps to break out where all the vendors fit in, but these lines are quickly blurring as many of the larger companies are taking out the smaller ones and adding this kind of functionality to their product suite.

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For content owners, it used to be that the answer to most website performance problems was either to add more hardware, use a CDN, or re-engineer their backend application code. But for a number of reasons, investing in backend optimization is now providing diminishing returns. Google's research shows that for many popular sites it's the front-end that accounts for over 90% of a users wait time. Content delivery networks help to address part of this problem by reducing network latency, but even larger performance gains can be achieved through front-end optimization techniques that streamline the Web page HTML code and resources.

If you want to learn more about how front-end optimization works and what role it plays within a CDN, see my blog post from last year entitled: "Why Web Applications And Mobile Browsing Are Making The Frontend A Major Performance Bottleneck".

We will be talking a lot about FEO and seeing demos of these services at the Content Delivery Summit, May 14th in NYC.

  • Ido

    Aptimize isnt a stand alone service anymore. It was acquired by riverbed.

  • http://www.StreamingMediaBlog.com Dan Rayburn

    Thanks, I missed that one. I’ve updated the post.

  • http://www.limelight.com Stephen Condon

    At Limelight we are very excited about Akamai’s decision to buy Blaze and the validation and market attention this will bring to FEO as a powerful solution for improving Web experiences. While the above gives a good outline of the standard FEO features which accelerate the time the site is perceived to be loaded and thereby improving interaction time (we call it Time to Action), the Limelight Accelerate service adds to these techniques the ability to prioritize different page components which takes FEO to new levels of performance. We think this is a critical feature as it gives the publisher intimate control over what site visitors see and interact with first.
    The other great aspect of this service is that it works in front of your existing CDN and is very easy to perform real-time demonstrations on actual live sites. The performance improvements can be dramatic. What’s more there’s minimal integration required. Please reach out to me if you’d like to see how you site performs with this service in front of it.
    Congratulations to the team at Blaze and we look forward to competing for the additional business this increased awareness is likely to generate.
    Stephen Condon – scondon@llnw.com

  • http://www.ramprate.com Steve Lerner

    I thought all the CDNs had mastered this by now and had a default set of tools for code and object compression, rewriting, etc… I guess not…

  • http://www.yottaa.com Coach Wei

    (disclaimer: Yottaa is about Web Performance Optimization)
    Congratulations to Akamai for acquiring Blaze Software – The future of web acceleration is to “optimization”, where “delivery” is just a component. They see the trend of the future in the way how we see it. We are excited about this acquisition just as how we were excited about Limelight Networks acquired Acceloweb last year – it is evident where web performance is moving towards. Traditional CDNs are really questionable when it comes to modern web apps unless they make big changes and adapt to the modern web. There are tremendous opportunities ahead for vendors, customers and consumers for a faster and better web.

  • http://feed.us Rick

    Thank you for the excellent description of FEO vs. DSA. I did not quite grasp the differences, previously.