FRAMINGHAM (03/29/2000) - Akamai Technologies Inc. and CacheFlow Inc. are teaming to offer users a product that will speed Web access, simplify Web site management and reduce the number of servers needed to meet growing site demand.
The companies this week signed an agreement that will let CacheFlow incorporate Akamai's Akamaizer software into its caching servers. The software lets network executives get important content onto the Akamai FreeFlow worldwide network of more than 2,000 servers - pushing content closer to the customers requesting it. The combination also adds a layer of policy-based traffic management not available using Akamaizer software alone. Those policies determine which types of content should be put on the Akamai network without the customer having to manually code it. A CacheFlow device sits in front of a Web server farm, typically behind a Layer 4 switch.
The deal highlights the problems related to performance and content availability that many corporate intranet and e-commerce sites have experienced due to heavy traffic.
What Akamai and CacheFlow are doing is a relatively new approach to scaling Web site performance but may soon become more popular, says Peter Christy, Jupiter Communications' Silicon Valley research director. That's because the combined technologies can lower a company's overall e-commerce costs and speed important content to customers. Christy says using the combination of Akamai's content delivery services and CacheFlow's devices can also help lower Web site costs by reducing the number of servers required to meet customer demand.
At ProFlowers, an online flower shop, the combination of CacheFlow/ Akamai technologies will save on server purchase costs and reduce the amount of time it takes to get popular content pushed closer to users on the Akamai FreeFlow network, says Yoshio Kurtz, ProFlowers director of development.
ProFlowers, says Kurtz, has "peaks and valleys" in terms of demand for content.
For instance, the Valentine's Day period drew 1.5 million site visitors looking to send flowers. Using the CacheFlow software, Kurtz can now manage what content gets onto the Akamai network without programming changes - saving a great deal of time and labor.
Kurtz also estimates that a single CacheFlow device can save him up to $35,000 - what it would cost him to tack five more servers onto his Web farm to meet increases in demand for content. A single cache device costs about $3,000.
Christy estimates that pushing content out to the edges of the Internet where it is closer to user requests is much more cost-efficient than allowing requests to come into a central server farm, because it eliminates long-distance charges. Those charges can be 100 times more than the costs associated with serving up Web content in remote locations.
CacheFlow: www. cacheflow.com.