Vendors to Speed Web Content Delivery

FRAMINGHAM (07/07/2000) - Alteon WebSystems Inc. and InfoLibria Inc. next week will separately roll out hardware and software aimed at speeding users' e-commerce Web sites.

Alteon will announce the first two products in its new iSD family, which will feature encryption processing and automated content delivery to speed Web site response. For its part, InfoLibria will roll out the DynaCache 40 cache device, a high-end hardware and software product that provides about twice the processing power and memory of its current products, with dual 700-MHz chips and 2G bytes of memory. The cache has redundant power supplies and mirrored disks for higher availability.

While InfoLibria's and Alteon's announcements address different needs for e-commerce and business-to-business Web sites, they are related in that they both aim to speed the process of serving up content.

The first two Alteon iSD products are the iSD Accelerator, aimed at offloading Secure Sockets Layer security processing functions from a Web server, and the iSD Akamaizer. By offloading the security processing, a Web server could be freed up to handle other content requests more quickly. The Akamaizer is designed for Akamai Technologies Inc. network users who want to automate the process of putting Web content on Akamai's delivery network. Both products connect to an Alteon Web switch.

The Akamaizer also lets network professionals set policies on content to be placed on the Akamai network. That process normally would require manual coding, but the Akamaizer automates the procedure.

Alteon will announce other iSD products aimed at speeding and simplifying management of e-commerce and Web sites but would not disclose when those will be introduced.

Unlike stand-alone devices that allow for encryption-related processing, the iSD products can be managed through the same tools used by an Alteon Web switch, say sources briefed by Alteon. They say iSD products should let users deploy new services more easily than if they deployed stand-alone devices that need to be maintained and configured individually.

The products differ from Alteon's Web switches, which provide Layer 4 through Layer 7 network functions such as URL-based switching. Sources say the new products mark Alteon's entry into the e-commerce services market, with offerings that let network managers provide features such as automated content delivery and higher-speed secure transaction processing.

At Computer.comInc., Alteon's new products are drawing interest for their ability to take the weight off Web servers and speed response time for customers. "One of the things we have noticed is that when we push secure pages out, they take up enough bandwidth to notice - about 10% more CPU utilization," says d'Mitri DeVos, manager of system operations at Computer.com, a resource site for computer users. "We want to offload that processor power and let the Web servers focus on serving up the content they need to."

InfoLibria says DynaCache's improved file system on its operating system software can handle Web server caches more intelligently than previous InfoLibria products do.

For network managers who are putting caches in front of their Web servers, the improved file system means faster response times for customers, says Kevin Lewis, marketing director at InfoLibria. That's because the cache now knows how to store related objects close to one another - reducing the amount of time it takes to put the objects together that make up a page.

InfoLibria's DynaCache 40 is designed to sit in front of a Web server to provide content that is frequently requested or is static. Cache devices speed response time for requests by storing that static or popular content. They offload the task of putting the objects together and serving them up as Web pages, which frees the Web server to complete more compute-intensive tasks, such as putting together dynamic content requests like shopping carts and security-related functions.

Alex Benik, an analyst with The Yankee Group Inc. in Boston, says the DynaCache 40 serves a growing need for companies with e-commerce and Web sites: the ability to address requests based on the type of content they are serving and the type of network they have deployed to handle requests. For example, the DynaCache 40 has been optimized to handle requests for caches in front of a Web server.

"When you put a cache in front of the Web server, it's going to get much higher hit rates," Benik says. "Using caches to front Web servers is a growing trend because it frees up your Web servers from having to deliver static content, so you can concentrate them on doing database and processing transactions."

Benik also notes that the DynaCache takes up four rack units - making it an economical use of expensive host space in a data center.The DynaCache also allows network managers to block URLs with inappropriate content from being posted.

Alteon's iSD Accelerator and iSD Akamaizer, which will be priced between $15,000 and $25,000 when they ship in the fall, can be connected to an Alteon Web switch. InfoLibria's DynaCache 40 is available now and costs $44,995.

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