Collaboration Architecture: Building on Security and Performance with Akamai

I just returned from speaking at the Akamai Customer Conference as a member of a panel called “Accelerating Global Collaboration across the Enterprise.” It fell into the first of three tracks at the conference: 1) Enterprise / High Tech, 2) Media & Entertainment, and 3) Commerce.

11 November 2009

I just returned from speaking at the Akamai Customer Conference as a member of a panel called “Accelerating Global Collaboration across the Enterprise.” It fell into the first of three tracks at the conference: 1) Enterprise / High Tech, 2) Media & Entertainment, and 3) Commerce. (Incidentally, I noticed the panel had a much higher number of attendees this year than in the past. Is this a direct correlation to my participation?)

Overall, the conference was attended by roughly 450 professionals who were there to learn about Akamai’s product roadmap, to hear how other companies are currently utilizing Akamai, and to meet partners and vendors in complementary spaces. I certainly enjoyed participating in my panel session, which included an excellent moderator and some great panelists. I thought that the entire panel brought a unique viewpoint to the session, and that the discussion flowed nicely through the topic of collaboration in today’s world.

From my perspective, Intralinks offers an interesting vantage point on collaboration because we are at the center of huge amounts of information flowing in both directions through a variety of collaborations—and both within organizations and between enterprises. In other words, Intralinks has a unique perspective in that we specialize in collaboration between organizations.

This creates unique performance requirements for our application. We may have collaboration partners working in a large multi-national enterprise, let’s say, who interface with participants in Chicago, New York and Paris, while at the same time need information from a partner in Dubai. This cross-organizational collaboration creates a number of challenges, which inherently requires a rich feature set and established community of participants. But there are more than those two components to accelerating global collaboration, like security, performance, and group membership support.

Security has been a pillar of Intralinks’ platform since we were founded in 1996. From start to finish, everything we build must meet stringent security guidelines that are required by the markets we serve today and the type of information we store on our system. For example, high-value business transactions (in some cases quite time sensitive) are often conducted on Intralinks. This means we have to balance usability and security. Intralinks tends to opt for the highest level of security, balancing the customer experience with easy-to-use user interfaces, the right mix of software and SaaS services, and accelerated performance with products like Akamai’s SXL (IPA) service.

One example of how Intralinks builds features with both security and ease-of-use in mind is our Document Locking & Protection capability, which offers users the option to stamp a document with the appropriate rights management watermarking, and more. This ensures only the people intended to read something will read it; creating a secure tunnel through the internet is the only appropriate mechanism for exchanging the types of information we serve.

Akamai offers multiple services aimed to meet this need and Intralinks has architected our solution with two different Akamai services that maximize the security while improving performance. I received a lot of interest from conference attendees when I discussed this approach, and perhaps there will be a follow-up session at next year’s conference to address the mechanism we use to split traffic between services.

The global nature of the collaboration that takes place on our system means we must rely on advanced techniques to ensure the appropriate level of performance is maintained regardless of location. Intralinks has a number of performance practices that we use to exceed our customer’s expectations, one of which is built on Akamai’s SXL and WAA services. The WAA services ensure that some data can be cached closer to the endpoint and the SXL services guarantee that the fastest route to Intralinks is followed – no matter where you are. There are also a number of proprietary techniques that we utilize to maintain a level of performance which exceeds our user’s expectations.

With a strong foundation in place on Intralinks architecture, we add a layer of support to global collaboration with 24x7x365 support in over 140 languages for our customers and our customer’s partners, clients, auditors, and outside council. This is a true collaboration accelerator. Collaboration is only as strong as its weakest link, and if one link in the chain doesn’t understand their part of the process, any business process collaboration will stall or worse yet, will die. It takes a true multi-tenant platform with a collaboration tilt to provide this type of capability, and it has to be supported by a world class support organization.

I would like to thank my fellow panelists and the Akamai team for inviting me to join them for a fine afternoon of discussion. I am looking forward to more conversations in the future as we continue to seek out ways at Intralinks to accelerate global collaboration across many enterprises.

John Landy

John Landy

John Landy is the chief security officer at Intralinks. Having served as chief technology officer at Intralinks for the past 5 years, he utilizes his technical background to work with clients to understand their security needs in sharing and storing sensitive information. John has been working on internal Intralinks controls for enterprise security and corporate risk and oversees a function comprising Customer Engagement, Security Architecture and a Security Operations Center.