A Massachusetts based startup is beta testing a new service to boost the speed of Web content distribution.
Akamai -an Hawaiian word, which means intelligent, clever and cool - has developed a service called FreeFlow and set up hundreds of Internet servers worldwide to form a fault-tolerant infrastructure.
The aim of FreeFlow is to shift the burden of distribution from the content provider to Akamai's network of servers to make access to Web content more reliable.
Paul Sagan, Akamai?s chief operating officer, said that proprietary software, which was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), drives the servers and removes the need for a centralised distribution system.
"This boosts the speed and quality of information and eases Web traffic," he claimed, but would not disclose where the servers are currently situated because the technology is still being tested.
He also attested that Akamai customers would be able to post more complex Web pages to their sites because the system has a faster response time than the Internet. This means they would not have to worry about users getting frustrated while they wait for downloads.
FreeFlow is able to deal with surges in demand, but can also make downloads faster because at least one of the servers on Akamai?s network is likely to be closer to a user than one of the individual servers on the Internet could be.
Customers can also monitor in real time where hits are coming from and which URLs are being requested.
To use Freeflow, users simply install Akamai?s software, which tags the Web pages they want the service to handle.As a result, users can choose which pages they want to handle directly themselves from their own servers and which pages they want to turn over to Freeflow.
Sagan said Akamai has already enlisted 10 Web content providers to use the technology in the development stage, but he expects the company to start generating revenues by the second half of this year and to have deployed more than 1,000 servers globally by the end of 1999.
MIT licensed the technology to Akamai in return for an equity stake in the company, and Akamai has already received more than $8 million in venture capital.
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