Friday, October 22, 2004

George Conrades, Akamai Kahuna on Computing Trends

Earlier this week, we attended a session presented by George Conrades, CEO of Akamai Technologies, part of the "Leadership Speaks" series sponsored by the Mass Software Council. Simply put, Akamai has servers around the Web that load balance traffic so that websites get better performance. (Sorry George, if that's too simple.) The company routinely handles 15% of total Internet traffic. Clients include companies like MSNBC and Symantec. One can imagine the volume Symantec generates when a new virus patch needs to go out to thousands (or perhaps millions?) of customers instantaneously.

Conrades humorously noted that he's been in the business for over 43 years, and he's witnessed three major life-changing shifts. (We were glad to see rock & roll top the list.)

'50s - Widespread adoption of rock and roll, some of which we still listen to, and even kids today listen to.
'60s - The computer changed the business marketplace.
'90s - Widespread adoption of Internet technology by the mainstream.

He noted that he's often asked, "Are there any big computer-related discoveries left?" He's not certain of the next big thing, but he believes there is still much room for improvement on the Internet platform (in terms of performance and reliability) and believes that Web services hold considerable promise. On another front, only 7% of songs have been digitized, so there's still going to be tremendous growth in the distribution of digitized songs, films and other content, driving demand for bandwidth and storage. You will be able to store the Library of Congress on a PDA-sized device.

What keeps him awake at night (besides dreams of riding on his Harley)? He is serving on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (visit and search on NIAC). NIAC provides advice on the security of information systems for critical infrastructure supporting other sectors of the economy: banking and finance, transportation, energy, manufacturing, etc. He notes that the Internet is the common denominator across these verticals and we have a long way to go on the hardening of the Internet. In addition, he noted that crime is moving to the Web, and we need to better fund law enforcement agencies to address it.