Conxion offers pay-as-you-go caching service

Managed Web hoster Conxion Corp. rolled out a suite of content delivery offerings Monday, including a new caching service that lets enterprises speed specific content, rather than entire Web sites, and pay for it on a per-use basis.

Conxion is placing CacheFlow caches in its data centers in order to provide the new Cache-on-Demand service, which company executives say provides a simpler and more cost-effective alternative to larger content delivery networks.

To use the services, enterprises determine which content they want to have cached and then change the DNS address to point to Conxion's caching network, says Phil Simmonds, director of product marketing at Conxion. The specified content is then uploaded to the Conxion caches. When an end-user requests the content, it is delivered from the cache in the closest Conxion data center, rather than from the origin server. The cache automatically redirects requests for uncached content to the origin server. There is no need to change application code or alter origin servers, Simmonds says, and the service can be up and running in minutes.

The Cache-on-Demand service is available to Conxion customers, as well as to enterprises that either house their origin servers internally or with third-party hosting companies. It is priced as low as US$1.50 per gigabyte delivered, he says.

Simmonds says the service is designed for enterprises that want to deliver specific content such as e-commerce catalogs and video files more quickly and reliably. It's a "stepping stone" for users who don't want to put entire Web sites on a CDN, he says.

Cache-on-Demand is Conxion's first foray into delivering content from the edge of its network, similar to what CDNs such as Akamai Technologies Inc. and Speedera Networks Inc. do with their thousands of caching servers that sit at the edge of hundreds of networks.

H2F Media, a provider of rich media marketing services, has been using a beta version of Cache-on-Demand for more than a month to speed delivery of large video files. A Conxion customer for more than a year, H2F Media uses a dedicated server environment and Conxion's HotRoute technology to accelerate the delivery of its rich media e-mail marketing campaigns. With the size of its rich media files growing, however, H2F Media was looking for a way to move the content closer to end users, H2F Media President Jim Van Kerkhove says. Conxion's HotRoute technology replicates data in servers distributed across Conxion's network and determines the best path to deliver content to end users, but keeps content at the core.

H2F Media Inc. is using Cache-on-Demand to deliver a targeted e-mail campaign that includes an eight-minute video clip to a quarter of a million users. Van Kerkhove says he was impressed with how simple it was to install the service and adds that he has seen a 15 percent improvement in the quality of the files delivered.

Van Kerkhove says he would like to see better monitoring tools available with the service, such as access to media logs for tracking and reporting purposes. A Conxion spokesman says the company is evaluating different software and plans to include a tool to give users access to whatever types of reports they may need.

Other Conxion enterprise services announced Monday include:

-- Conxion Faster Than Light. This service uses the HotRoute technology to accelerate content from shared or dedicated servers in Conxion data centers and is priced based on user configurations.

-- EDU Conxion. This service is designed for universities and colleges that typically pull a lot of content from the Internet. Schools connect to the Conxion network through a dedicated line, such as a DS3 or an OC3 circuit. Users are charged about $250 per megabyte for at least 20M bytes of outgoing traffic, but get up to five times that amount in incoming traffic free.

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