Oracle and Akamai team on caching initiative

Oracle Corp. and Akamai Technologies Inc. planned to announce their first technology collaboration on Monday, a jointly developed markup language dubbed Edge Side Includes (ESI) that is intended to speed delivery of dynamic Web pages.

ESI uses HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)-like tags to enable the dynamic assembly of page fragments, allowing static page elements to be cached and shortening the overall delivery time of a Web page. The two companies said they would submit ESI to a standards organization in May, although they wouldn’t say yet which standards group. In the meantime, Oracle and Akamai will publish the specification on their Web sites.

Oracle plans to implement ESI as part of the built-in Web caching system of the next version of its Oracle9i Application Server, scheduled to ship worldwide in May. Also in May, Akamai will incorporate ESI into its EdgeSuite package of services for Internet content and applications delivery.

“ESI can dramatically reduce the infrastructure costs when you’re serving Web pages and Web applications,” said John Magee, Oracle’s senior director of product marketing for Oracle9i. Akamai said the technology would help its customers by improving their Web sites’ user experience and lowering their costs.

ESI will function with either Oracle’s technology or with Akamai’s. While the companies hope customers will use their products in tandem and emphasized the additional performance gains in doing so, products from both are not required.

International Data Corp. (IDC) analyst Lucinda Borovick applauded the initiative. “For the first time, in one bundled package, the content developer can take part in the content delivery network, both from a static and dynamic content standpoint,” she said.

She expressed doubts, however, about the companies’ ability to perpetuate ESI as an industry-wide standard. “I’m certainly skeptical about widespread adoption outside of the Oracle base,” Borovick said. “But they’re one of the leaders, and it will only help Akamai gain a foothold.”

(IDC, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.)

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., can be reached at Akamai Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass., can be reached at IDC Corp., in Framingham, Mass., can be reached at