Exodus Ups Caching Ante

FRAMINGHAM (03/03/2000) - Exodus Communications next week will team with start-up switch maker ArrowPoint to offer new caching services that promise to speed Web site performance, reduce bandwidth costs and simplify site integration issues.

Exodus will significantly expand its flagship ReadyCache service - from about 20 data centers today to 50 - using ArrowPoint switches. The ReadyCache service speeds access to customer Web sites and reduces bandwidth costs by placing Web site content closer to users. With ReadyCache, as requests for content are made, the content is stored locally on Exodus servers and reused as new requests come in.

The ArrowPoint switches route requests based on server availability and the nature of the content being requested using URL addresses, which speed transactions and balance server workloads. The Exodus/ArrowPoint combination should help users more efficiently distribute everything from Web pages and large files to graphics-rich content and streaming video.

The firms will also announce an agreement in which Exodus users will be able to buy ArrowPoint switches, service and support through Exodus, eliminating the need for customers to have to deal with multiple vendors as they set up e-commerce sites. By hosting content on Exodus clusters, users can free up their main Web servers to handle dynamic requests, such as transaction processing, and rid themselves of supporting their own server farms and networks.

Observers say Exodus' managed services enhancements are a response to the explosive growth in e-commerce and the demands it places on networks and servers. A recent Network World survey of 500 companies indicated that they expect a whopping 40.8% of their revenue to be derived from e-commerce within two years. The same companies also expect that two years from now the median amount of money dedicated to their e-commerce sites will be $4 million.

Meanwhile, the worldwide Internet caching market, including service providers, is expected to grow from $269 million in 1999 to nearly $2.2 billion in 2003, according to Internet Research Group of Los Altos, Calif. Enterprise sales are expected to increase from $110 million to $1.4 billion.

"Our traffic has grown tremendously - sixfold since last year," says Peter Park, lead digital architect for retailer Sharper Image. He says the company went to Exodus for Web hosting for its auction and products Web sites, and for the comprehensive set of services Exodus could provide to maintain those sites.

Sharper Image uses ReadyCache for many of the graphics-intensive images on its Web site, reserving its main servers for dynamic content serving.

Park says Exodus' ability to fully integrate Sharper Image's e-commerce sites and provide distributed content services all on its own network were a big factor in choosing Exodus and ReadyCache.

Park said that he would have hesitated to use a separate content distribution company: "With a third party, we wouldn't have been as willing to go this way because it would have taken too long to implement and execute."

Exodus isn't alone in its quest to offer high-demand strategic cache services.

Akamai, Sandpiper Networks and Digex are also offering distributed content services, but aren't as big in the Web hosting arena as Exodus, says Courtney Munroe, an analyst with IDC, a consultancy in Framingham, Mass.

"Exodus has a very good chance of succeeding in these types of managed services because they are building data centers faster than anyone else and also in terms of being able to actually deliver managed services on time. They are one of the few who can," Munroe says.

Exodus Internet Data Centers typically support multiple OC-3 and OC-12 links providing an Internet data exchange rate of more than 7.2G bit/sec, the company claims.

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