Renaissance, Apple NZ explore Akamai opportunities

Having helped introduce Akamai and Clear Net to each other, Apple Computer distributor Renaissance is exploring what leverage it can gain from the local presence of an Akamai Web content delivery server.

New Zealand Apple Computer distributor Renaissance is exploring what leverage it can gain from the presence of an Akamai Web content delivery server in New Zealand.

Akamai recently added New Zealand to the list of sites for a network of 9000 servers based on its FreeFlow media cacheing software. The server is hosted by Clear Net.

It was Apple NZ general manager Paul Johnston who made the initial approach to Akamai, immediately after returning July's Macworld Expo in New York, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple had contracted Akamai to carry its QuickTime TV streaming content from Disney, ESPN, ABC News, Rolling Stone and the BBC.

Apple announced shortly after the expo that it had also invested $US12.5 million in Akamai. That small investment paid off last week, when Akamai staged the year's most spectacular IPO. Apple's initial investment, equivalent to a 4.7% stake in the company, was worth over half a billion dollars on paper - equal to Apple's profits for the entire fiscal year. Akamai, which has yet to make a profit, currently has a larger market capitalisation than Apple itself. Fellow investors Microsoft and Cisco have reaped similar windfalls.

Johnston says that although he provided Akamai with a general overview of potential partners in New Zealand, Renaissance's existing service relationship with Clear Net was the clincher.

"We weren't sitting there brokering the deal or anything. We were talking to the Akamai guys and they'd just moved into Australia and wanted to move into New Zealand. They'd just moved into Australia at that point. I believe they're going to have around nine servers in Australia.

"[Renaissance IT head] John Hayson was talking with Clear about a couple of things and mentioned it to them. From there, the discussion between Clear and Akamai must have been reasonably short. The whole thing seemed to come together very quickly.

"To me it ties in nicely in that it involves a company that Apple's involved with worldwide and a company that we're involved with in New Zealand.

"So once everything's settled down we'll be sitting down to work out how we can all benefit from this.

"We've started some discussions with the local office of one of the content providers that's up on the Apple site that does some streaming. They themselves don't have a full picture of what's going on internationally so they've gone upstairs to find out how to deal with this on a local level. It's one of the issues that those companies are going to have to discuss."

Among the Web content providers to have been "Akamized" recently are CNN, Yahho and Disney's Go Network.

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