Novell Tackles Web Content Management

SAN MATEO (06/29/2000) - Novell Inc. has taken its Net services vision into the content delivery and acceleration area, launching Novell Content Exchange, a service that accelerates content movement between an origin server and the CDNs (content delivery networks).

Content Exchange, emerging from the new Net content division formed during Novell's reorganization in May, will sit at the data centers of Web site hosting companies and speed 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.

"The Internet is growing at an enormous rate; 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 services 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."

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 be competing directly with Akamai and similar CDNs, but it will complement them as a side-by-side service.

"The way I see it, they 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 amounts of time so that a company can handle higher numbers of simultaneous content requests.

"The Internet economy expects a service. Quality of service is what's important here, not, 'How many boxes can you ship me?'" Khalaf added. "We're bringing the technology, the networking expertise; it's a new business model for us. Finally we're [moving] at Internet time."

Martin Marshall, managing director of Zona Research Inc., in Redwood City, California, opined Novell has done well by choosing to target Content Exchange at the higher level of CDNs, serving as "the networker of the networkers" in a market that has lots of growth room.

"[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 the middleware and the speed and deficiency of it. In this case, this group at Novell has their head screwed on straight and is doing it right."

Content Exchange marks the addressing of an issue farther away from Novell's traditional focus on directory services and NetWare, building instead upon the Novell Internet Caching System, which Marshall asserts is a good move for the company that will help increase its presence in Internet markets.

GlobalCenter Inc., a Sunnyvale, California-based Internet services company that holds a piece of the Web hosting market, will be rolling out Content Exchange for its customers during the next few months. Khalaf said future plans also 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 around the time of the larger fall tradeshows, and will be priced based on monthly consumption.

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