Ryan Lawler over on Contentinople has an interesting piece on Akamai's terminology shift recently, placing its own distributed architecture under the umbrella of cloud computing. I have talked about the relationship between the CDN and the cloud before, albeit clumsily, and what Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM, news, filings) said parallels some of my own thoughts. When it comes to virtualization, it's not just about the servers. The network matters, and that Akamai has leveraged a distributed, virtualized architecture that pre-dates the current cloud movement doesn't mean they don't have a place beneath it. But why do they need one?
Randy Cooper over on CDN Evangelist thinks Akamai is playing silly word games when they ought to be focusing on an increasingly challenging field of competitors. To a great extent I agree, this really is all about words, marketing, packaging, and perception. But I wouldn't limit that to Akamai, much of what passes for news these days in the name of cloud computing is little more than hot air. There has been a tendency lately for everyone remotely related to the core cloud concepts to place themselves squarely at the center of the revolution, even if they aren't actually doing anything they weren't already doing before.
Is Akamai a 'cloud computing provider'? Depending on your definition, perhaps it is. But really, who cares? Attaching yourself to a buzzword helps when you are little more than an idea, because it helps people understand and classify the idea you have. But when you have real products, revenues, and profits then it means a whole lot less what you call yourself. Such companies are defined by what they sell, who buys it, and how well it works. The marketing buzzword is just the stand-in when you don't have that.
I won't be surprised if Akamai continues wearing its newfound cloud computing hat, but I hope they realize that they are and have long been the real thing and they don't really need to wear a new hat to look cool.
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