Akamai's CDN is coming to Azure thanks to expanded partnership

It's an attempt to 'face down' AWS’s offering, one analyst says

Azure users have already had access to the homegrown content delivery network services Microsoft offers in both standard and premium versions, but thanks to a newly expanded partnership, they'll soon be able to tap CDN services from Akamai as well.

Microsoft will fully integrate access to the Akamai CDN into Microsoft Azure, it announced Tuesday, so as to optimize performance of content and applications deployed and delivered on its cloud platform.

Microsoft is also planning a series of first-party services that include Akamai's CDN, acceleration and security offerings, it said. Microsoft enterprise customers will be able to purchase any Akamai offering as a "self-select" option through the Azure portal or as part of their organization's Microsoft enterprise agreement.

Integrated, one-stop service and support will be available from Microsoft and Akamai.

Microsoft customers will be able to purchase an Azure CDN offering and deploy onto the Akamai Network architecture starting in early 2016. A managed rollout of the new first-party services will be available to targeted enterprises next month.

"This is another indication of the need for erstwhile competitors to band together," said Carl Brooks, an analyst with 451 Research.

The partnership is "one way to attempt to face down AWS’s CDN network, which is on a scale with Akamai’s, despite being much younger," Brooks said.

Akamai lacks the compute and developer services that Amazon Web Services and Azure have, and Azure "does not quite have the scale" to compete against AWS on CDN, he added.

"That makes this a marriage of opportunity, and frankly, users are never sad to see more choice in their cloud buying options," Brooks said.

Microsoft actually made a preliminary announcement of the news at its AzureCon virtual event last month.

"With Akamai, Azure customers will enjoy an expanded global footprint and reach, particularly in Latin America and Asia, as well as access to more capabilities and advanced features," wrote Sudheer Sirivara, partner director for Azure Media and Azure CDN Services, in a blog post at the time. "Public sector customers will also enjoy more convenient access as both platforms have achieved the FedRAMP JAB’s highest certification."

Akamai and Microsoft have also collaborated on major software downloads, such as for Windows 10, as well as on large online events, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 NFL Super Bowl.

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