Can the Internet keep up with the surge in demand?

As a company that’s been in the business of enabling the Internet for 22 years, Akamai is hearing from a lot of people lately who all want to know one thing: Can the Internet keep up with the sudden surge in demand? Will it scale? What happens to performance? And what about security when almost all employees work remotely?

Akamai operates a globally distributed intelligent edge platform with more than 270,000 servers in 4,000 locations across 137 countries. From our vantage point, we can see that global Internet traffic increased by about 30% during the past month. That’s about 10x normal, and it means we’ve seen an entire year’s worth of growth in Internet traffic in just the past few weeks. And that’s without any live sports streaming, which continued to set new records prior to COVID-19. 

What will be the impact of the surge in traffic on performance? Already, we’ve seen some major streaming providers reduce quality levels in an effort to cut traffic. The good news is that managing vast volumes of traffic is an area where Akamai can help. Akamai’s intelligent edge network architecture is inherently designed to mitigate and minimize network congestion. And because we have deployed our infrastructure deep into carrier networks, we can help those networks avoid overload by diverting traffic away from areas experiencing high levels of congestion.

We can also help with managing bit rates at peak traffic periods. We’re doing that today with the world’s leading providers of online video games. An online video game download consumes as much traffic as about 30,000 web pages, so that’s why Akamai is working with companies such as Microsoft and Sony to reduce global Internet traffic during hours of unusually high demand.

But what about performance for transactions? Three years ago, e-commerce represented approximately 10% of global retail sales. Last year, the figure was 14%. It was projected to be 16% for 2020, but surely the number will be much higher as so many brick-and-mortar stores have been closed due to the pandemic. This means the app performance is even more critical today than it was before. When a digital experience isn’t as fast as a customer expects, the buyer goes elsewhere and the sale goes away.  

COVID-19 also has major implications for cybersecurity, as large numbers of enterprise employees work virtually from home. Is your security posture ready for a remote workforce? How do your employees and partners get access to your enterprise applications from their laptops and other mobile devices at home? And how do you secure that? Do you give every authenticated user access to everything inside your network? 

In a world where a remote enterprise can no longer delineate a clear perimeter to secure and defend, yesterday’s security architectures won’t keep up with the risks and threats of everyone working remotely. We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the enterprise firewall as we know it. That’s why at Akamai, we use a next-generation Zero Trust security architecture, enabled by Akamai Enterprise Application Access.

So, back to the original question: Can the Internet keep up? I’ll explore this in a keynote talk this week at the Akamai Edge Live Virtual Summit, on April 7 and 8. Join us to hear our thoughts on managing business continuity and security in the midst of the pandemic. 

In the meantime, you can listen to a podcast I did, “Can the Internet Handle the Imminent Streaming Explosion?” with Variety magazine editor Andrew Wallenstein. We had a great conversation about what it will take for new OTT streaming services to deliver content to users at the edge, the impacts of gaming and 5G on Internet performance, emerging security risks and how to mitigate them, and how Akamai is innovating to make the Internet fast, intelligent, and secure.

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The Akamai Blog authored by Tom Leighton. Read the original post at: