Why is Akamai moving its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud?

Akamai Technologies is a content delivery network and cloud services provider, so you might think Akamai is totally cloud-based. But, of course, it has the same legacy systems — HR, sales, marketing, databases – as any company founded in 1998.

But Senior Vice President and CIO Kumud Kalia is determined to change that. Kalia’s ambitious goal is to move all of Akamai’s IT infrastructure to the public cloud.

Speaking at the Gartner ITExpo, Kalia said that people throw out lots of reasons for going to the cloud and he ticked off which ones were valid and which ones weren’t, based on his experience of having successfully moved around half of Akamai’s IT infrastructure to the cloud.

  • Cost. Kalia says he has not saved money by going to the cloud and, in fact, says he’s probably spending more on IT than he was before.

  • Quality. While enterprise data centers are able to build in enough redundancy to deliver `four nines’ of reliability, cloud service providers are far more susceptible to outages.

  • Control. Again, if you want to keep a tight grip on everything, if you want to know exactly where your data is, if you don’t want to accept the types of SLAs you typically get from cloud vendors, stick to on premise computing.

  • Security: Kalia considers it a wash. Some argue that cloud service providers do a better job than the average enterprise because they have more to lose in the event of a breach. But Kalia says some cloud startups could actually be worse than the average enterprise when it comes to security. “Everybody is vulnerable,” he says.

  • Speed: This is where cloud computing shines. If you’re looking for speed, cloud is where it’s at.

  • Flexibility: Again, flexibility is at the core of why Akamai is moving to cloud. Cloud allows Akamai to try out new things, “turn stuff on and off,” etc.

  • Competition: Kalia argues that moving to the cloud helps Akamai both compete against challengers within its industry, as well as help it enter new markets.

When it comes to actually moving apps to the cloud, Kalia says it all started with Salesforce.com and the Salesforce ecosystem and then expanded out from there.

Kalia first moved all of his customer-facing apps to the cloud, a process that took two years.

He uses Remedyforce for ITIL-based service management, Financialforce for ERP, Apptus for contract management. Developer tools include Jira, Zephyr and Jenkins.

Kalia says he’s currently evaluating cloud access security brokers, with plans to select a vendor by the end of the year.

He concedes that there are still some stubborn problems to overcome when it comes to moving everything to the cloud. There’s an in-house VoIP system, VDI, databases and legacy apps.

But Kalia hopes to be completely in the cloud by 2020.