Novell and partners launch $80 million start-up

A group of technology vendors led by Novell Inc. is launching a start-up that boasts it will offer services and products that ultimately will boost Web content delivery for enterprise networks.

Representatives from Orem, Utah-based Novell; Brampton, Ontario-based network gear maker Nortel Networks Corp.; and Chicago-based consulting firm Accenture today formally announced the creation of Volera Inc. The 6-month-old, $80 million firm, with 170 employees, is based in San Jose. Its executives said Volera will offer enterprise networks and Internet service providers (ISPs) integrated caching and content-management products and services designed to boost the quality and speed of the delivery of secure multimedia Web content.

Novell will be chief equity partner, as well as a contributor of technology and personnel from its Net Content Services Group, said Simon Khalaf, Volera's president and a former Novell executive. Novell CEO Eric Schmidt will be chairman of the board for Volera. Novell had previously hinted of its intention to spin its Net Content division into a separate company in the fall (see story).

As part of the deal, Novell will be turning over to Volera its Internet Caching System (ICS) software, which will subsequently be known as Excelerator.

ICS-enabled appliances, such as a Compaq Computer Corp.'s C-Series TaskSmart Web acceleration server, can cache popular Web pages and serve them up directly to users without having to go to the original Web server. Volera will also offer Novell's Content Exchange Web acceleration and redistribution service for Web hosting centers, said Khalaf. However, the Volera Web site states that the company will also be working to develop its own offerings, and won't be dependent on Novell exclusively for technology.

Although the road map is a bit vague, Volera will be selling its technology to Web appliance makers that will then resell it under the hood to corporate end users, said David Willis, program director of global networking strategies at Meta Group Inc., a Stamford Conn.-based consultancy. It will also be selling its content exchange services hand-in-hand with content delivery service providers such as Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies Inc.

Depending on the quality and success of Volera's offering, there could be an indirect impact on enterprise users who need to manage large amounts of Web traffic internally, particularly in the form of bandwidth-gobbling streaming media signals.

"There is a trade-off between bandwidth consumption and the cost of moving content to the edge of the network," said Willis. Multinational companies that are dealing with high bandwidth costs and want to distribute the content regionally may find Volera-based solutions attractive.

Also significant is Novell's move to offer products through a third party. "Historically, Novell's brand has been sacred to them," said Willis. "Now they've realized, perhaps a bit too late, that the Novell brand has so many legacy connotations they have to separate themselves from it."

Volera will start to deliver streaming media, security and other products sometime in the next four weeks, said Khalaf.

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