Web Alliance Offers Fast Delivery, Usage Statistics

Includes major providers such as Inktomi and AOL

Internet access providers that freely serve up information that content producers use to make money may soon have a system that reimburses them for their efforts. The same system promises to give content providers - companies that create commercial Web sites - a way to collect usage information and increase the performance of their sites.

Last month, a group of leading Internet firms announced Content Bridge, an organization and infrastructure that functions much like a toll road system on the public Internet.

Scheduled for launch this fall, the alliance promises a faster trip and smoother ride for Web content.

Alliance members include Inktomi Corp. in Foster City, Calif.; Exodus Communications Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif.; American Online Inc. in Dulles, Va.; and San Francisco-based Digital Island Inc. Adero Inc. in Boston will manage the system.

In return for fees that participating Web hosting companies will pay to Adero, caching companies in the alliance will provide usage information to Web hosting firms, which can then resell that information to their content provider customers.

Adero will share the revenue it collects with caching and content delivery companies that are members of the alliance. Those firms will speed delivery of information from those hosting companies to Web users.

Details of how much Adero will charge for its services haven't been worked out, officials said, but will be based on the number of hits to a site and the amount of content served.

Adero, founded in 1998, has raised $105 million from investors, including Intel Corp., Inktomi, Microsoft Corp. and Reuters America Inc. in New York.

Adero will provide network control, usage statistics logging and payment settlement. Digital Island; Madge Networks NV in Amsterdam; Genuity Inc. in Burlington, Mass.; Exodus; and Digital Island will all provide content delivery and caching.

AOL will provide Web hosting, Web access and caching, while Inktomi will provide underlying caching technology.

Joel Yaffe, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said, "This is a bona fide alliance system that seeks to address a major problem: compensating the different parts of the Web value chain."

Moreover, the system gives content producers as much control over site information that has been pushed out to the caches of access providers as they now have over the content on their own origin servers, said Adero Senior Vice President Al Fink. When information is changed on the origin server, it will be automatically updated on all of the caches of the access provider members, said Fink.

And users should see better Web performance because up-to-date information is served from the cache farms of nearby access providers, Fink said.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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