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October 6, 1999

Akamai Unveils Streaming Strategy as Adero Joins the Market

By CBR Staff Writer

By Rachel Chalmers

Competition in the content delivery network space is getting hotter every day. Akamai Technologies Inc and Sandpiper Networks Inc no longer have the market to themselves; iBeam Broadcasting Corp and Mirror Image Internet Inc are rapidly gaining ground. Nor was Sandpiper’s recent addition of streaming media support to its value-added services enough to give it a decisive lead. iBeam added streaming media last week and Akamai has been quick to follow suit. Akamai’s FreeFlow SM is now available for Apple QuickTime, Microsoft Windows Media and RealNetworks RealSystem G2, not to mention IceCast for streaming MP3.

With the ball back in their court, Sandpiper executives boasted that the Footprint network’s open architecture lends itself to integrated services like application delivery in a way that FreeFlow’s proprietary software does not. At Internet World in New York yesterday, Sandpiper made good on those promises by unveiling an open application platform for content delivery networks, including a special service offering that allows Vignette Corp’s popular publishing engine, StoryServer, to be integrated with FootPrint.

Now Akamai retorts that it is the proprietary software in FreeFlow that makes high-quality, reliable and scalable streaming media possible by reducing latency and packet loss. Even when a session is interrupted, the new FreeFlow SM service should be able to redirect the stream without the user even noticing. Company officials say that FreeFlow SM has been in beta for a month and that 650,000 streams have already been delivered. Akamai has also announced a geographic expansion of its service to 1,200 servers across 40 networks in 24 nations.

The company piggy-backs off the IP connectivity and hosting services provided by AT&T, Exodus, Global Crossing, Qwest Communications, Teleglobe and UUnet. It is clear that successful partnerships are critical to the success of any content delivery network, and accordingly, Akamai’s final announcement concerns a new alliance program. This one is aimed at web integrators and application vendors; its first three customers are, Fort Point Partners – and Vignette, which has promised to integrate its StoryServer with FreeFlow as well as the rival Footprint network.

Meanwhile, a new competitor has entered the fray in the shape of Adero Inc, which like Akamai is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company’s new AderoWorld Service is specifically aimed at the problems of global e-commerce. By caching content on 12 internet backbones in 19 countries on six continents, the service seeks to offer rapidly-deployable web serving and virtual mirroring to internet merchants everywhere.

Given the many benefits of distributed caching, it comes as no surprise to find that these services are far from cheap. List pricing for AderoWorld starts at $1996 per Mbps in the United States or on the Pacific Rim, and jumps to a hefty $3195 for the equivalent in Europe. For its part, Inktomi Corp has made a point of noting that Adero is using its Traffic Server as a network cache platform. Little wonder: Inktomi supplies virtually all the players in this market, with the exception of that proprietary upstart, Akamai.

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