Personalizing webpages with Akamai EdgeWorkers

adam conn
Adam ConnPosted on Jun 29, 2022
2 min read

Brands often report that performance is one of the main obstacles to widespread adoption of personalization, which slows down websites and adds to the server load. With Akamai EdgeWorkers, you can run custom logic—from processing to decision making, such as personalization—at the edge. This article focuses on personalization. 

What is “the edge”?

As you well know, people visit a website on a browser that connects to the site. For content delivered through a CDN like Akamai Ion, instead of connecting directly to your site, the browser links to a copy of it created by the CDN. Such a setup yields two advantages:

  • The greater the physical distance between a visitor and a site, the more slowly the site loads. Since your site likely resides in a data center, it’s close by some visitors but far away from others. Gratifyingly, a CDN hosts your site in numerous locations (called points of presence) worldwide, minimizing the distance for all visitors.

  • CDN vendors have spent years—or, in the case of Akamai, decades—optimizing their networks for speed. More likely than not, therefore, CDNs can handle visitor requests faster than your site.

The edge refers to the fact that visitors connect to the part of Akamai’s global network that’s closest to them geographically—literally the network’s edge.

Akamai EdgeWorkers

What are the limitations of the edge?

Since visitors connect to a copy of your site, your CDN only delivers copies of your webpages and cannot dynamically generate pages as a regular web server can. EdgeWorkers effectively resolve that issue. 

What is an EdgeWorker?

An EdgeWorker is a lightweight application that you deploy to Akamai’s network after configuring Akamai to leverage EdgeWorkers for certain webpages.

How do you personalize experiences with an EdgeWorker?

Personalization involves two activities:

  • Configuration, which can be a manual process, an automated one, or a combination of the two. EdgeWorkers cannot handle this task, but tools like Uniform can.

  • Implementation, which an EdgeWorker can tackle. When a visitor requests a webpage after you’ve embedded the configurations for personalizing your webpages, the following process takes place:

    1. Akamai determines that an EdgeWorker should handle the request and runs an EdgeWorker.

    2. The EdgeWorker determines which page the visitor requested and retrieves it from the Akamai cache.

    3. The EdgeWorker personalizes the page according to the configurations you specified.

    4. The EdgeWorker serves the visitor the personalized page.

What is Uniform’s role in edge-side personalization?

Uniform performs two important tasks for personalizing webpages on the edge on Akamai:

  • Enables brands to specify the details of personalization with other stack components, e.g., a CMS, commerce, or a CDP.

  • Offers an EdgeWorker for applying those configurations. 

Subsequently, personalized pages emerge—lighting fast. Interested in learning more? Contact us for a demo.

Uniform has been named in the

2022 Gartner® Cool Vendors™ in Digital Commerce Report