A collection of CDN (content delivery network) companies, content providers, and hosting companies are creating a single content delivery platform that combines all their networks to improve Web performance.
The proposed service, called Content Bridge, will be a joint effort by Inktomi, Exodus Communications, America Online, Adero and other companies to give content providers more control over their content at the edge of the network.
"This transforms the Internet from a bit-machine to a seamless content delivery platform," said David Peterschmidt, president and CEO of based Inktomi.
Inktomi will provide the core network software technology for Content Bridge.
Using their new EdgeFusion services, Boston-based network services provider Adero will take on operational duties, oversee Content Bridge's revenue-sharing model, and provide centralized billing and settlement services for cross-network transactions.
"We don't actually take the content; we don't actually ever pass the content through our systems," said Al Fink, senior vice president and general manager of Adero content management services. "We manage all the control signals and logging data necessary to support control and performance and provide visibility to the logs and information sharing at the edge of the network."
Content Bridge marks a radical departure from Adero's previous model as a content delivery company to this role as service enabler. Fink said the move was "a logical progression" for Adero to leverage their CDN expertise in a crowded market.
However, Alex Benik, an analyst at the Yankee Group Inc., in Boston, said he is still "a bit apprehensive" and views Content Bridge as "the latest move in the Inktomi-Akamai battle."
"This is Inktomi's play on content peering," Benik said. "I think the idea here is to take [the companies], add them up, and see if the sum of that equation is greater than Akamai."
Benik added that the endeavor's success rests on how many major network service providers the group can sign up, which could be difficult until Content Bridge proves its vision works well in the CDN world.
To use Content Bridge, content providers send content to their hosting company or CDN. The hosting company/CDN signals Adero that content has changed, Adero relays that signal to the edge networks, and the edge caches update by retrieving the new content from the hosting company/CDN. Adero also monitors the edge networks and content usage data, sending that information back to the content providers.
Terho Uimonen is a Scandinavian correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.
Content Bridge expects to expand this initial participant list.
* Inktomi: network software technology
* Adero: operational services
* Exodus, Madge.web, Genuity Corp.: hosting* NetRail, AOL: access providers* Digital Island Inc., Mirror Image Internet Inc.: CDN providers