Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Akamai Names Chief Scientist Tom Leighton as CEO

tom_leighton_akamaiAkamai, the company behind the scenes that keeps the Internet running smoothly for so many companies and organizations, said today that chief scientist Tom Leighton will be its next CEO.

Leighton will take over from current CEO Paul Sagan on Jan. 1. Sagan will remain on Akamai’s board of directors. Leighton was one of Akamai’s founders in 1998, and has been responsible for much of its technology strategy.

At this point, it’s worth remembering what it is that Akamai does. I interviewed Leighton in September. He summed up the company’s mission like so:

“Our mission is to make the Internet work the way you’d want it to for business. We want it to be really fast, really reliable, really secure, really scalable and really efficient. And we do that as a service, and the way we do that is with a platform of more than 100,000 of our servers located in more than 1,000 places around the world. But they’re also inside more than 1,100 different networks. And the platform is extended with software that lives on tens of millions of client machines to help with the delivery of software and the playing of video and the fast delivery of business applications.”

It’s also pretty active in the area of Web security, as he described in the same interview:

“We are the largest consumer of bandwidth on the Internet, and in some networks, we’re the majority of their bandwidth. By delivering that bandwidth from the edge, we take a lot of the load off the customers’ core infrastructure, which is what allows the Internet to grow into scale. But we defend a lot of the major Web sites against attacks. In the case of a denial-of-service attack, we’ll provide the customer with the volume needed to defend against the attack. In the case of more nefarious attacks, where people are trying to sneak in and change content or trying to take control of the site somehow, we’ll filter out those attacks before they get anywhere near the data center …”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik