The Akamai 2018 Spring Release includes a wide range of product improvements, and in this blog post I’ll give you a brief overview of what’s available, or in some cases, coming soon. I don’t want you to lose sight of the forest for the trees, so I won’t go over every detail, but I’ve cherry-picked some juicy features from DevOps, web performance, digital performance management, mobile, and security.
Starting in Fall 2017, we began announcing two major releases per year, which should make it easier for you to keep up with new functionality. Previously we announced new features as they became available, and you might have missed some of them without the fanfare. This doesn’t mean we’re delaying features; some are on a rapid development cycle and twice a year wouldn’t be enough, so we’ll roll up the announcement of those changes with the biannual release announcement.
Some features have limited availability, or are at an early state of development. We use the following terms to denote that:
- Tech Preview gives you early access to a new feature before it’s at the Beta stage. Wait, isn’t that Alpha? Um…. yeah, but at Akamai we call it Tech Preview.
- Beta means the feature is still going through changes, and fixes to bugs and performance improvement are expected. You can use Beta features, but don’t count on them staying the same.
- Limited Availability (LA), means the feature is complete, but we restrict the number of customers while we do fine-tuning. In most cases, these programs already have full enrollment, but you can ask your Akamai representative about joining the early adopters.
With all that front matter out of the way, let’s get right to the Spring Release, and what’s in it for DevOps, web performance, digital performance management, mobile, and security.
We announced major enhancements to our Akamai for DevOps program at the 2017 Edge conference, and are in the middle of the DevOps World Tour. In Q1 alone we’ve delivered 21 hands-on events around the world, where we’ve listened to feedback from thousands of developers and admins just like you. DevOps is snowballing, and your ideas are helping Akamai push it forward, big time. This has resulted in some great new features, many of which are still in development. But for the 2018 Spring Release, check out the following:
Akamai CLI (GA)
One feature I’m super duper excited about is the Akamai CLI 1.0. If you aren’t using it yet, think of it as door number three: Door number one is the familiar browser-based Luna Control Center; Door number two is your programmatic access through Akamai APIs; Door number three is the Akamai CLI.
The Akamai Command Line Interface (CLI) allows you to access our APIs without using a programing language. By typing short keywords on the command line, the CLI simplifies some of the most common operations for the supported APIs. For example, instead of making three or four API calls to the Property Manager to create a new property, you can simply use a single command like:
akamai property create qa.example.com --clone www.example.com
The CLI went through massive changes on it’s way to a one-dot-oh: autocomplete, package discovery, INI-file configuration support, and a lot of new packages. I don’t want to take the wind out of Davey’s sails, so please see his blog post on what is the coolest tool you probably aren’t using (yet).
Promotional Deployment (Beta)
This feature gives you the ability to automate promotion of changes across different development environments, typically from development, to QA, to staging, and then production. You can learn more in the DevOps overview post here, or jump straight to an awesome video about it.
You use Akamai because your customers demand reliable, secure access to your website, right now. With the 2018 Spring Release, we’ve got new web performance features that make fast even faster.
Adaptive Acceleration: Script Management (Beta)
This release includes a better UI, and new workflow-based user experience. You’ll find it’s easier than ever to discover and understand the impact of first- and third-party scripts. If you’re scratching your head on that one, you definitely want to read our recent blog post on third-party scripts.
Brotli From Origin
Brotli gives you better compression than GZIP, reducing page weight and bytes transferred. This is awesome because Akamai now has a comprehensive Brotli solution which supports origins that provide Brotli compression, and origins that do not. For origins that don’t, Akamai can now automatically provide Brotli compression. You can learn more in our blog post here.
API Gateway (Beta)
Save round-trips to origin for client authorization. API Gateway enables users to administer API endpoints directly, and perform common gateway functions at the Edge, closer to API clients.
Image Manager (Beta)
The 2018 Spring Release has a couple new features that make Image Manager faster and easier to use. For one, you can now use query string parameters (QSPs) to apply dynamic image policies, so no more futzing around in the UI. And you can also leave your code intact by mapping Image Manager policies at the Edge.
New transformations include auto-cropping based on facial recognition, sharpening, blurring, and trimming. And the 360 Media Viewer Integration allows you to deliver an interactive experience, with the ability to zoom and 360 spin.
Digital Performance Management
mPulse has a bunch of new features for you, but these are coming in May, right after this 2018 Spring Release announcement. Rather than tell you about them later, I’ll spoil the surprise and tell you now.
New Timers (5/2018)
First off, you’ll see three new timers: time to visually ready, time to first interaction, and importantly, the time to interactive stat we blogged about recently. In addition, there are new timers (Beta) for new interactions, such as keys, clicks, and even no interactions (long delays). And finally, if you’re interested in tracking rage clicks (repeatedly clicking on the same thing), you’ll get that, too.
Page Construction Metrics (5/2018)
We’ve included new page construction metrics that help you fight page bloat. You’ll get to see the transfer size, decoded body size, compression ratio, and resource size by type (images, CSS, scripts, etc.), among others. You can also inspect the HTTP request count to help you reduce DOM complexity.
New Metrics (5/2018)
We’re releasing a bunch of new metrics as well, including round-trip time and several new CDN dimensions (IPv4/IPv6, HTTP protocols, etc). I’m excited to take a look at the Edge Time metric, which shows the overall time the page spends on the Akamai network, and Base Page Offload, which shows how well browser and CDN caching are being used at the page level.
All of these features are covered in more detail in a separate blog post.
Mobile App Performance
The MAP SDK has several new features for native Android and iOS mobile apps. Many of these features are in Tech Preview, and so you can activate and configure them in the UI already. I’ll hit a couple high points here, but you’ll want to read all about it in the MAP SDK Updates for the 2018 Spring Release.
Purge for Universal Cache (Tech Preview)
Universal Cache replicates browser-like caching rules within the mobile app. We’ve now added a purge button so you can quickly purge content from the device, either entirely, or by a list of URLs.
New Reports (LA)
You can create custom timing events to measure things like how long it takes to load the home page or perform a checkout. The MAP SDK team recently added a summary report for a quick overview of your custom reports, which is really useful when you’ve got a bunch of them.
Image Manager Integration (Tech Preview)
If you’re already using Image Manager, you know it optimizes images for the display type and connection. MAP now supports Image Manager to optimize images for your native mobile apps.
A/B Testing (Tech Preview)
You can now test different MAP features or configurations and see how that affects your users. This allows you to try out various features you may not be using (like Image Manager), or validate MAP features against a holdout group.
That’s a glimpse of what’s new for the mobile app performance category in the 2018 Spring Release, to get more details on Mobile, see Paul’s blog post.
Let’s take a look at the updates for Kona Site Defender first, and then I’ll go into other notable security features.
Kona Site Defender
New Security Configuration APIs (Beta)
You can now make changes to security configurations programmatically through Akamai APIs and a new Akamai CLI command:
appsec. With this initial release, you can do things like add a new hostname to existing security configuration, create, change, or remove a custom rule used as a virtual patch, and update match targets like /foo as new services come online.
Originally we only offered fast activation for changes made through Property Manager, but with the 2018 Spring Release, we’ve added security configuration and network list changes as well. Fast activation allows you to push to your active users in minutes, and the entire Akamai platform in less than 10 minutes. This is a significant upgrade from the 25-50 minutes it used to take.
Web Security Analytics (Beta)
This is a new analytics tool within Security Center that consolidates attack events for your Cloud Security Products like Kona Site Defender, Bot Manager, and Client Reputation in a single place. This provides both a high-level dashboard for trending insights and rapid drill-down analysis with request-level visibility.
That’s a quick recap of Kona’s updated capabilities, now let’s take a gander at some other security features.
Bot Manager Premier Mobile Protection Module (Beta)
This feature is particularly cool. It uses device sensors on your phone (accelerometer, touch, position, and whatnot) to determine if the activity is from a person or a bot, and integrates with our already awesome Bot Manager Premier. Finally, you can have high-powered bot detection and mitigation for your Android and iOS apps. To learn more about Bot Manager Mobile, check it out here.
You can now ingest security events from Akamai’s Bot Manager, and Web Application Protector directly into your security information and event management (SIEM) solution. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then definitely take a sip while you read our recent post on Build and Automate Actionable Threat Intelligence With Akamai and Splunk.
It’s kind of hard to get developers and admins excited about Prolexic because you’re not writing code or configuring it; you flip a switch, and that’s the beauty of it. However, if you’re using Prolexic, then you’ll be happy to hear that we’re more than doubling the number of scrubbing centers in North America and Europe (up to 16) and have improved the dashboards to help you understand attacks. There’s more, and to learn about the latest Prolexic features, see What’s New with Prolexic.
Enjoy the 2018 Spring Release!
That about wraps things up for my tour of the Akamai 2018 Spring Release. I encourage you to delve into the linked posts above and register here for the 2018 Spring Release Webinar. If you’ve read this far down, then let me add a final plug and ask you to join our Akamai Developer program. You’ll get the latest updates on our products and developer tools, a subscription to our newsletter, special invitations to events, and more.