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February 14, 2024

Akamai bets on Gecko to slay its hyperscaler rivals

Akamai’s Gecko, or ‘Generalised Edge Compute,’ will significantly increase the size of the cloud computing firm’s global network.

By Greg Noone

Akamai has launched a new platform to weave cloud computing capabilities into its edge network. Known as ‘Generalised Edge Compute,’ or ‘Gecko,’ the firm claimed that it would afford users better experiences by running their workloads closer to devices, data sources and end users. It marks the latest stage of a plan by Akamai to expand its cloud computing services generally after its acquisition of Linode for $900m last year.

“We began delivering on that roadmap with the launch of Akamai Connected Cloud and the rapid rollout of new core computing regions around the world,” said the firm’s co-founder and chief executive, Dr Tom Leighton. “With Gecko, we’re furthering that vision by combining the computing power of our cloud platform with the proximity and efficiency of the edge, to put workloads closer to users than any other cloud provider.”

A man holding a mobile phone with the Akamai logo on its screen, used to illustrate a story about Akamai's Gecko platform.
Akamai has positioned its new Gecko platform as a potential hyperscaler-slayer. (Photo by Maurice NORBERT / Shutterstock)

Akamai’s Gecko bringing cloud to the edge

The rollout of Akamai’s Gecko platform will happen in three phases, with the firm aiming to embed support for 100 virtual machines across its network by the end of 2024. These deployments will be scattered across locations that it argues are currently underserved by its hyperscaler competitors, including Hamburg, Marseille, Denver, Houston and Bogota, and burnish its existing network of 4,100 separate points of presence.

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“Current industry architectures treat cloud and edge networks separately,” said Akamai. “Gecko is designed to enable generalised compute to be deployed on top of Akamai’s existing worldwide edge network, taking advantage of existing tools, processes, and observability to provide a consistent experience across the entire continuum of compute from cloud to edge.”

Akamai jousting with the hyperscalers

Several enterprise customers had already been using Akamai’s Gecko platform on a trial basis, said the firm, adding that companies engaged in providing multiplayer gaming, social media, streaming and AI inference services are best placed to harness the new platform. Akamai also envisions use cases across spatial computing, data analytics, immersive retail and industrial IoT. 

Gecko’s launch was explicitly portrayed by Akamai as a shot across the bow of Microsoft Azure and AWS, both of which dominate the cloud computing market. “Hyperscalers have dominated the market based on a decade-old centralised cloud model that emphasised scale-up compute power at the expense of reach,” said the firm, emphasising the portability and affordability of its alternative model. Even so, Akamai remains a relative minnow in the cloud computing universe compared to AWS. Yesterday the former announced sales of $471m in the fourth quarter of 2023, slightly undercutting market forecasts. During the same period, AWS generated sales of $90.8bn

Read more: Have the hyperscalers broken the UK cloud market?

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