How work could change, says Akamai vice president of network technology


When historians think back to 2020 and its impact on work and leisure, they will probably rack their brains and wonder what happened.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything from workplaces to the amount of entertainment we consume. Platforms like Disney +,

Netflix
and a number of video games, including Among Us, have benefited from the overwhelming desire to be diverted from the horror of growing death tolls and rising infection rates. At the same time, we spent more hours at

Zoom
and Microsoft Teams meetings than ever before.

Keeping it all running has been the job of companies like Akamai, a content delivery network provider for large corporations, including big banks and corporations around the world.

But to keep other businesses running as they made the great online migration, Akamai needed to make sure it was able to successfully move its employees to adapt to the pandemic.

“One of the biggest challenges has been all around people,” said Christian Kaufmann, vice president of network technology at Akamai, and one of Business Insider’s 100 people transforming business in Europe.

“Some people who were working from home had a little home office in the basement and everything is fine and they continue,” he said. “Then other people really relied on the interaction with the team that they haven’t seen in six months. They have a small apartment that hasn’t been set up for working from home. So now , they’re working at their kitchen table and the kid is running around. “

Kaufman thinks this should continue into the next semester of 2021. “I don’t think there is any fundamental change in the way we work. What we have now is a new approach for at least the nine. next few months, ”he told Business Insider. in October. “It’s not a short, middle-of-the-road thing. I think businesses will use it to put more online and get ahead in this regard.”

This means that there will be more load on the 300,000 servers Akamai runs around the world. When the world went on lockdown between March and April, global internet traffic increased by about a third, according to Akamai CEO Tom Leighton.

A long-term strategy

But the initial peak was the most embarrassing time, Kaufmann says. This is something the company has dealt with before, and now they are keeping the internet online by building future capabilities even more.

“There was the great growth where everyone was at home and adjusting to the situation. Now they have adapted to the situation: 20% office, 80% home office, ”says Kaufmann. “It doesn’t really change anymore. You get bigger files and you definitely get more streaming, but I don’t think it’s a blast again.”

The overall file size for downloads and streaming may increase as theaters close and streaming services start delivering their movie listings over the internet, rather than through movie channels, but this has minimal impact.

The company is liaising with major Internet service providers to provide more fiber optic connections to customers. This has proven to be more difficult than normal as ISPs tackle local bottlenecks and staff shortages.

“If this one is stuck or busy going to the other companies and connecting everyone, it takes a while,” Kaufmann said. “So that’s definitely something we had to tone down and tone down with them.”

But the potential impacts of not meeting end-user traffic demands mean ISPs have been working quickly to help end users stay connected at increased capacity. “They are motivated to give us a little attention and help us increase our capabilities, otherwise they will suffer,” Kaufmann said.

For those worried that further blockages or spikes in cases could send their internet off in the blink of an eye, Kaufmann has some reassuring words. Akamai went through 2020 unscathed and unscathed. “The traffic increased a lot and then stabilized,” he says. “We had the headroom. It was eating up the headroom and we tried to catch up, but the traffic was increasing more or less steadily. It didn’t increase exponentially.”

Kaufmann is also a realist. “You don’t have more eyes or more time,” he said. “The traffic has stabilized at a certain level. With the catching up, and the supply chains and pretty much every country we operate in is not locked down right now, so good. no particular challenge to that. “


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