IBM will today unveil the latest addition to the Internet 2 high- speed IP backbone project aimed at storing and caching advanced applications, such as real time broadcast and video, so that they can be accessed faster by users. The initiative, called the Internet Distributed Storage Infrastructure (I2-DSI), is being led by the Innovative Computing Laboratory of the University of Tennessee and is ultimately designed to enable educational institutions to carry out collaborative research and distance learning using more complex data types, like video. According to Rich Wall, program director for IBM’s Internet 2 initiative, video and audio content cannot be delivered reliably over today’s internet. Typically, he says, such content-rich data is centralized on one server, which makes downloading the sound or images extremely slow. Under the I2-DSI initiative, the University of Tennessee will install IBM’s Web Cache Manager software product, launched last year, at six different university sites. The idea is to distribute the complex applications across the servers, which will speed up the time taken to access and download data, Wall said. Imagine having that same content continually stored and cached on multiple servers, he said, the data is replicated six times so you have much higher performance, higher reliability and higher throughput. Although the initial experiments will focus on digital video applications, the technology will ultimately be used for all different types of data. The experiment will form the basis for how to deploy the technique on the internet proper, which IBM said it expects to see happen over the next three or so years. Advanced applications that have content stored close to the users will dramatically enhance the way people interact, John Patrick, IBM’s VP of internet technology said in a prepared statement, imagine astronomy students from all over the world subscribing to a class on the internet that examines high-resolution images returned from a satellite orbiting Mars. Internet 2 will help make this commonplace. The IBM Web Cache Manager software used in this initial deployment has a combined capacity of almost six terabytes, or the equivalent of around 9,000 CD-ROMs. They will be installed at high performance backbone access points at six universities including the University at Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Indiana University, among others. All hardware and software needed for the experiment will be funded by IBM.