CDN show highlights dynamic content delivery

Speeding the delivery of dynamically generated content is taking a front seat at the Content Delivery Networks (CDN) Conference in New York this week, with several vendors showcasing appliances intended to accelerate on-demand delivery of dynamic Web content.

Dynamic Web page generation taps technologies such as Active Server Pages (ASP), Java Server Pages (JSP), and Servlets to create personalized pages specific to individual users.

Dynamic caching vendor SpiderCache Inc. at the show released Version 1.5 of its SpiderCache product for both Unix and Windows NT. Enhancements include an Optimum Clear Cache feature that allows selective cache clearing based on specific changes from a source file. A finer grain of control over clearing the contents of a cache helps invalidate stale cache content and alleviates the load on the Web server, according to Greg Parker, CEO and president of SpiderCache, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Other improvements to Version 1.5 include automatic monitoring of Web application changes that can trigger cache clearing, a configuration wizard designed to simplify installation, and an Image Optimization feature that reduces the size of images to increase delivery speed.

Dynamic content is becoming an increasingly common component of Web sites, but many content-speeding devices are limited to static content types, according to Parker.

"There is huge growth occurring in dynamic content. People are moving away from static ties to dynamic content-driven sites, and that exposes the bottleneck [dynamic content] causes," Parker said. "[Traditional caches] can't handle the performance required for the speed of delivery of dynamic content."

Another vendor addressing dynamic content acceleration, Chutney Technologies Inc., introduced its Chutney PreLoader Version 2.0, which is designed to cache and deliver dynamic page components that can be reused across multiple user sessions. Examples of these components include product prices and features, top news stories, and weather reports.

Accelerating the delivery of individual components of dynamic Web pages can allow e-businesses to offer personalized content without suffering a hit on performance, according to Greg Govatos, vice president of marketing at Chutney, in Atlanta.

Also on hand at the show, XCache announced XCache 2.0, software designed to improve performance and scalability of a variety of file types, including streaming media, static and dynamic content, database-driven pages, and images. According to officials at the Bellingham, Wash.-based company, new features in XCache 2.0 make it easy for Web administrators to prepare personalized database-dependent Web pages for caching.

Other vendors making news at the show include Keynote Systems Inc., which unveiled a service that measures the performance of CDN services for SLA (service-level agreement) verification. The Keynote SLA Perspective quantifies CDN performance by measuring issues specific to content delivery, according to officials at Keynote, in San Mateo, Calif. For example, the service provides more frequent sampling coupled with measurements of single object delivery and broad geographic and backbone samples.

The Keynote SLA Perspective service is available in a CDN Edition for measuring static content and a Streaming Media Edition for assessing the performance of streamed media.

Additionally, Pumpkin Networks Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., is showcasing its Concerto Web switch and load balancer. Concerto's three-tier load-balancing architecture is capable of distributing a packet stream across multiple physical nodes assigned the same virtual IP address. This allows users to reduce the cost of infrastructure needed to deliver Web applications, according to Pumpkin officials.

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