Akamai Edge Connect

Get simplified, secure, real-time messaging and data streaming for IoT devices.

With the tremendous growth of smart devices on the internet, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a prime area of focus for more developers and admins than ever before. In the IoT arena, Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) has emerged as the new standard; it's a lightweight publish/subscribe (“pub/sub”) messaging transport protocol that’s ideal for the resource constraints most IoT implementations face.

Here’s a bit of background on MQTT, because it’s critical to understanding the value that Akamai Edge Connect can deliver for you:

In every MQTT transaction, there are two parties: an MQTT client, and an MQTT broker. An MQTT client is any IoT device that connects to an MQTT broker over a network. An MQTT broker distributes information, within all the parameters you've set, to the MQTT clients.

Akamai Edge Connect offers you the industry’s only enterprise-scale ISO-compliant* MQTT broker which connects to IoT devices to provide real-time messaging and optimized data buffering.

*What is ISO compliance and why is it important?

Akamai Edge Connect is the only enterprise-scale ISO-compliant MQTT broker from a cloud provider, which means that it uniquely meets the standards required by OASIS, an industry-wide consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of open standards in accordance with the International Standardization Organization (ISO). The MQTT architecture standard set by OASIS specifies a robust set of features that exceeds non-compliant MQTT brokers and can enable you to connect into systems more seamlessly.

The advantages of Edge Connect

First and foremost, Edge Connect is designed for simplicity; it’s simple to implement and simple to use. In addition, Edge Connect leverages the robust security and global scale of Akamai’s IoT Edge Cloud Platform which allows you to focus on building your application without worrying about security or scale.

Edge Connect supports ISO-compliant MQTT client software like the Paho client, so you don’t need to learn a proprietary SDK. Also, Edge Connect provides you with powerful message-delivery support out of the box, so you can be confident of fulfilling your delivery guarantees.

The diagram below gives you an overview of the Edge Connect architecture:

architecture overview

How it works

Edge Connect allows developers to provide end users with a complete and productive MQTT experience via a rich set of features and capabilities in these four areas:

  1. Security
  2. Optimized data transfer
  3. Reduced complexity
  4. Fully managed service

1. Security

All developers understand that as data travels to, from, and between IoT connected devices, the delivery must be secure, allowing access to only authorized users. Akamai Edge Connect handles this for you in two ways:

  • Mutual authentication: Mitigate security risks with mutual authentication, where you can customize your own managed TLS environments that include TLS versions and cipher suites.
  • JWT Tokens: Managing the access for many devices—sometimes numbering in the millions—is complex, and labor- and infrastructure-intensive. Akamai’s Client Access Control API, which can be used with Edge Connect, allows developers to move authentication functionality to the edge rather than requiring these decisions to be made through client applications located at origin. By employing technology that securely and proactively manages access, the Client Access Control API can reduce complexity and associated support costs. In addition, unique users can be redirected to default white or blacklists to further reduce the origin server load.

The Client Access Control API enables you to write code for your clients without worrying about access control issues. All you have to do is configure your ACLs and then the Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform will provide DDoS resiliency, bad actor (from your client ID blacklist) protection, and topic protection.

2. Optimized data transfer

The number of connected IoT devices—and the number of locations where they originate—are increasing every minute. This rapid increase, along with constant resource constraints, makes the optimization of your data’s size and transferability a critical challenge.

Edge Connect’s MQTT brokering capabilities, as discussed above, are an ideal solution for this challenge. For starters, MQTT includes three levels of Quality of Service (QoS) that determine how your content is managed; higher levels of QoS are more reliable, but they have more latency and bandwidth requirements. QoS, therefore, allows you to choose optimal levels for different kinds of data and delivery:

  • QoS 0: No guaranteed delivery; useful for uploading diagnostics information, etc.
  • QoS 1: Guaranteed delivery; useful for command-and-control, etc.
  • QoS 2: Guaranteed delivery exactly once; useful for transactional requests, etc.

In addition to MQTT’s QoS feature, Akamai Edge Connect delivers optimized data transfer via two key features: Edge Messaging and Edge Data Stream.

Edge Messaging: IoT implementations can require real-time, concurrent communication between millions of devices. To handle this intensive workload, Edge Connect’s Edge Messaging feature spreads the connection load across an optimal number of Akamai’s 240,000 edge servers located all over the world at the edges of the Internet. This load-sharing (sometimes known as “decentralized messaging”) reduces radio usage by terminating connections quickly at the edges of the Internet. Messages are thus routed reliably and efficiently (i.e., low latency) without incurring unnecessary retries and drops by the device.

edge messaging

Edge Data Stream: Due to the inherent mobile and global nature of connected IoT devices, congested networks and data loss are ongoing challenges. Edge Connect’s Edge Data Stream feature provides real-time access to data to allow backend systems to efficiently read and process messages. This is useful for scenarios such as ETL, loading analytics engines, and short-term (<7 days) investigation and forensic examination. Edge Data Stream can provide consistency and recovery across multiple backend data centers and ensure that data is transmitted smoothly and efficiently across multiple networks so that you get consistent performance regardless of device location or network structure.

edge data stream

3. Reduced complexity

The management of millions of IoT devices—including auto-scaling, failover, data synchronization, and other challenges—can be overwhelming. Edge Connect leverages the IoT Edge Cloud Platform (which is part of the 240,000-server Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform) to solve these challenges. Unsurpassed scalability, security, and reliability are built into this single, logical service, globally distributed platform that simplifies many of your IoT complexities. Just develop your application and deploy it to the clients. Whether it’s a thousand clients or a million clients, the software design is the same with Edge Connect and the Akamai platform.

4. Fully managed service

Edge Connect is fully managed, which means you have a team of IoT experts along with a suite of built-in automation features working 24/7/365 to help your IoT implementation be seamless, productive, and successful.

Here’s an example of why this fully managed service matters: maintaining connectivity to the nearest data center for millions of mobile IoT devices is challenging and labor-intensive. Edge Connect automatically connects IoT devices across the globe, and automatically maintains those connections as the devices move around. Edge Connect also adjusts your connections among Akamai’s edge servers to maintain optimal path and performance even when conditions change. The result? No more tracking and reconnecting devices as they move geographies. No more moving devices from one data center to another for load balancing or availability.

Meanwhile, your Akamai IoT team stands ready to help should any issues arise. That’s fully managed service.

Getting started

You can work with Edge Connect free for 30 days to see how it can make your IoT deployments faster, more reliable, and more secure. With this free trial, you can:

  • Connect up to five users for testing
  • Select the geography in which you want to deploy
  • Try a quick-start with our sample clients

Neither you nor your company needs to be an Akamai customer to access the Edge Connect trial. To get started, view the Edge Connect getting started guide.

Additional resources

Watch the Edge Connect overview video

Read the “Security and Mutual SSL Identity Authentication for IoT” whitepaper