Novell Aims at Content-Delivery Market Space

SAN MATEO (06/30/2000) - Novell Inc. has taken its Internet services vision into the content-delivery and acceleration area, launching Novell Content Exchange, a service that accelerates content moving between the origin server and CDNs (content delivery networks).

Content Exchange, emerging from the new Net Content division formed during Novell's May reorganization, sits at the data centers of Web hosting companies and speeds up the flow of content between origin servers and the spot where CDNs, such as Akamai Technologies Inc. or Mirror Image Internet Inc., pick up -- an area Novell terms the "first foot" of the Internet.

"Successful Web sites are beyond what they can handle from a capacity standpoint, and they cannot continue to add Web servers," said Simon Khalaf, vice president and general manager of Net Content at Novell, in Provo, Utah.

"They just don't have the human power to manage the machines. We give them that scalability through Content Exchange: We just took a pipe and made it bigger so they can serve more people," he said.

The service acts as a front-end processor to the site, alleviating bottlenecks formed at overworked Web servers and bypassing the need to alter content for delivery by CDNs, Khalaf said. Novell will not compete directly with Akamai and similar CDNs but will complement them as a side-by-side service.

"The way I see it, [CDNs] are the long-distance carrier; we are an RBOC [regional Bell operating company]," Khalaf explained. "I'm delivering a service and charging on consumption, which is what the local phone company does."

Khalaf said Content Exchange not only serves up content from caches but also sustains multiple connections for longer time periods so a company can handle more simultaneous content requests.

Martin Marshall, managing director at Zona Research Inc., in Redwood City, California, believes Novell has done well by choosing to point Content Exchange at the higher level of CDNs, serving as "the networker of the networkers" in an area with room for growth.

"[Novell] has identified an important area, and content distribution is riding the curve now that the Internet was riding a couple years ago: the curve of exponential adoption," Marshall said. "This is a theme we're going to hear played for years to come as people recognize the importance of middleware and the speed and deficiency of it. In this case, this group at Novell has their heads screwed on and is doing it right," he said.

Novell will pursue deals with hosting providers to ramp up deployment of Content Exchange during the next few months.

Khalaf said future plans include creating a "great network of application developers injecting their services into the flow of traffic -- in the security space, the advertisement space, in the scalability space."

The commercial version of Content Exchange will be made available in the fall, most likely near the time of the larger, fall tradeshows in October and November, and will be priced based on monthly consumption.

'First foot' rivals?

As the content delivery market grows, these companies may challenge Novell in the "first-foot" space.

Speedera Networks Inc., a traffic management/ content-delivery service providerAlteon WebSystems Inc. Services, a "Web switching" company that controls traffic and processes Web sessionsSurgient Networks Inc., a content-delivery infrastructure providerF5 Networks Inc., a traffic and content management product company

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