Novell, Akamai cache in on Web content delivery

At a time when speedy delivery of Web content can make or break critical business functions, two content delivery heavy hitters, Akamai and Novell, joined forces last week to integrate technologies and offer combined services.

The deal allows Provo, Utah-based Novell Inc. to integrate Akamai Technoloy Inc.’s Akamaizer software into the Novell Internet Caching System (ICS) and Content Exchange products. Novell developed its own flavor of Akamaizing software from Akamai’s development kit. Novell officials said the integrated ICS and Content Exchange products will be available in 90 days and 60 days, respectively.

The Akamaizer software automatically translates Web content so that it can be sent via Akamai’s network of 4,200 servers, and then it finds the most efficient route to send data via the Internet, according to officials at Akamai, in Cambridge, Mass.

When coupled with Akamaizer software, Novell’s ICS caching appliance will speed the process of sending content through Akamai’s content delivery network, Novell officials said.

Novell’s Content Exchange is a Web server acceleration service that makes content routing decisions based on business rules and server availability among the content delivery networks of Akamai, Digital Island, and Mirror Image. The addition of Akamaizer technology allows Content Exchange to customize data automatically for Akamai’s network.

Martin Marshall, managing director at Zona Research, in Redwood City, Calif., said he expects Novell to strike similar deals for its Content Exchange with the other two content delivery vendors, Digital Island and Mirror Image, early next year.

As part of the alliance with Akamai, Novell will also offer to its customers Akamai’s FreeFlowSM Streaming services, designed to accelerate multimedia content delivery.

Accelerating the delivery of streaming media is gaining momentum with several vendors in the content delivery market.

Last week Sunnyvale, Calif.-based caching vendor CacheFlow acquired streaming content provider Entera, based in Fremont, Calif., for US$440 million. The CacheFlow-Entera caching products will allow enterprises to build dedicated content delivery networks for streaming audio and video, CacheFlow officials said. Entera’s technology brings streaming content management spanning from the content producer to the end-user.

In addition, Sunnyvale-based Network Appliance recently added support for streaming media to its NetCache 5.0 software, which can deliver video on demand by storing and streaming video files from the edge of the network.

The company has also released ContentDirector and ContentReporter software that provides single point control over distributed content, including video and audio files, from the data center to the network edge.

As technologies such as streaming media and video on demand take root in enterprises, there will be an increasing need for devices that can speed up dynamic content delivery, Marshall said.

“We will see a good deal more streaming media content [in enterprises], so there is a growing need to have it cached,” Marshall said.

Addressing this need, content delivery technologies are beginning to take on some of the thorny issues involved in delivering dynamic content, according to Marshall.

“The caching of dynamic material has always been a problem. Banner ads are almost impossible to cache, and streaming media is a lot of bits and is very time sensitive. Additionally, more interactive applications are being driven by databases, which brings up issues with how to handle the fact that the queries change over time,” Marshall said.