A CDN’s Evolving Role in the New DevOps Friendly World

by Sid Phadkar
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In an ultra competitive world with abundant access to resources, pushing out one change every six months isn’t enough to keep up with the market. Companies today have streamlined deployment processes and capabilities in order to speed up deployments from yearly, to as often as possible. DevOps represents the category of innovations that speed up time to market and increase developer productivity by reducing friction in the deployment pipeline.

Technological advancements such as containerization, multi-tenancy, IaaS and the computing flexibility offered by cloud providers, and software defined everything have driven developers toward a whole new resource consumption model – and enabled them to push, monitor, and react to multiple code releases every day. This dramatically speeds up developer productivity (and happiness as a result), and makes for more efficient and profitable engineering organizations.

CDNs must also meet developers where they are by integrating seamlessly into DevOps pipelines, and Akamai for DevOps represents our investment in bringing our CDN capabilities where developers live every day.

CDNs have historically had three primary responsibilities:

  • Performance– ensuring websites and mobile apps deliver experiences that fulfill user expectations.
  • Reliability– ensuring customer experiences are delivered reliably at scale so customers never notice a blip in service.
  • Security– absolute confidence that customer data is protected and secure.

These are still must haves, and Akamai remains committed to leading innovation in each of these segments (check out exciting announcements around effortless browser performance, better mobile app experiences, secure delivery, and enhanced protection as part of Edge’17).

However CDNs today have a fourth responsibility that we touched on above – increasing developer productivity, and in particular enabling the pace of change that has been set by the DevOps movement.

So what must CDNs do to keep up with developer expectations? A key driver of change here is that the primary CDN user is now a full-stack developer – someone who juggles CDN related tasks along with a plethora of other competing activities. CDNs need to facilitate the success of this user by enabling them to move at their speed, at their scale, and in their environments, while still safeguarding all of the must-haves around performance, reliability, and security.

Developers won’t accept trade-offs, but insist on technology that allows them to work the way that suits their environment best.

Specificaly:

  • Performing any task via an intuitive UI, via flexible APIs, or via simplified SDKs that can be integrated into existing developer environments.
  • Treating their CDN as any other piece of code- versioning it via GIT, weaving it into background Jenkins jobs to enable continuous integration and deployment flows, and integrating it into their infrastructure just like any other component within it.
  • Access to real time insights to enable an immediate feedback loop. These should be accessible as a raw feed that offers the flexibility to massage data in the formats conducive to specific use cases or via aggregated trends that make this data more consumable. It is important that these insights provide visibility into all aspects of the CDN ecosystem- internal CDN behavior, security, and end user impact.
  • Deploying changes at speed, but yet having the ability to revert back instantly if something goes wrong.
  • And finally, enabling everyday productivity and efficiency that comes out of a DevOps-savvy culture.

In time for Edge this year, Akamai demonstrates our commitment to this DevOps oriented user by enabling the following capabilities.

  • Our new activation tracker exposes intermediate milestones so developers can begin validating their changes even earlier. This is done without compromising reliability because we run the necessary background checks to ensure complete safety. Activation milestones are available via the UI or as API endpoints that can be integrated into automated release scripts. Pick the milestone that you prefer, based on your environment.
  • Users have the ability to perform any property management task via the UI or via the improved Property Manager API (which we fondly refer to as PAPI). PAPI enables users to retrieve Akamai configs as code and treat them like any other piece of code in their infrastructure. Akamai CLI, which is an SDK-like wrapper around PAPI that takes simplicity a step further by providing users one call to integrate their property management functions into their automation tools. The CLI is also available for our purge and visitor prioritization capabilities- and is completely open source.
  • Along the same lines, APIs for Fast Purge, Identity Management, Traffic Alerting, Secure Provisioning, Diagnostics, Adaptive Acceleration, Contracts, DNS Management, Image Manager, Log Delivery, Site Shield, etc., all ensure that anything that can be done via the UI can be done externally via APIs as well. Furthermore our security capabilities ensure protection from malicious API calls – again a testament to our uncompromising commitment.
  • Client and signing libraries written in 9 different languages (Jave, C#, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Golang, Node.js, Ruby) ensure users can talk to these APIs in the language of their choice.
  • New Custom Behaviors will enable users to move and reuse their advanced behaviors (metadata) between their different configurations, thus saving valuable time and resources.
  • New plugins for Terraform, Varnish, and WordPress are designed so users do not have to shuffle between different tools in their infrastructure, but simply integrate CDN capabilities into them.
  • Our new real-time feedback solutions provides a 360⁰ view to the impact any deployed change will have. The DataStream API enables insights into raw logs or aggregated CDN behavior trends that can be continuously monitored. SIEM integration enables real time visibility into security insights while mPulse enables every change to be tied to real user behavior and business value.
  • The ability to monitor events in real time is of little value without the ability to react in real time – and our new fast fallback capability enables users to rapidly revert back any change.
  • Finally, capabilities around phased release, audience segmentation, edge redirects, application load balancer, and Edge Side Includes (for the loyal ESI fans, check out the new containerized ESI Test Server) ensure that once your site is up and running, users continue to build new efficiencies in their everyday operations.

This is just only the beginning of our DevOps journey. Check out the full feature set of Akamai for DevOps and let us know what you’d like to see us build next and how we can help integrate Akamai into your DevOps workflows.

Categories: DevOps Articles, Technology

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