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8/30/2011
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Google, OpenDNS Team To Speed Web Traffic

Collaborative project with content delivery networks aims to change the way content gets served to users.

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Driven by a desire to ensure that Web apps respond as quickly as desktop apps and by the understanding that faster network response times lead to happier users, Google has joined a collaborative initiative to make the Internet faster.

Google is simultaneously pursuing related efforts, such as Google Fiber for Communities and Google Public DNS, not to mention code improvements in its Chrome browser. In July, Google began offering its Page Speed Service, which the company said could accelerate page load times from 25% to 60%.

But Google's insatiable need for speed has brought it together with OpenDNS, an alternative domain name system (DNS) service, and a group of content delivery networks (CDNs).

On Tuesday, OpenDNS said that it is working with Google, BitGravity, DNS.com, CDNetworks, Cloudflare, Comodo, and Edgecast on what the group is calling the Global Internet Speedup initiative.

"Google is committed to making the Internet faster--not just for our users, but for everyone," said Google distinguished engineer Dave Presotto in a statement. "We will do that any way we can, by improving protocols, browsers, client software, and networks."

The goal of the project is to make the DNS route time-sensitive Internet traffic--like streaming video--more efficiently. If you've ever been watching a Netflix streaming video that has paused unbidden, you can probably see why the project could be helpful.

CDNs evolved to help deliver commercial and time-sensitive content by placing high-volume servers near large groups of users where there's fast Internet connectivity and serving content from the closest CDN location. But CDNs traditionally make their routing choices based on the location of user's DNS server rather than the location of the user. If a user is not located near his or her DNS server, then content delivery may be slowed down.

The Global Internet Speedup initiative aims to help CDNs make better decisions about how they route Internet traffic. The goal is to serve content that users request via the most efficient route, regardless of whether users are near or far from their DNS provider.

OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch said in a statement that the initiative is based on open standards and that other Internet companies can participate.

There are potential privacy implications. The new system exposes a portion of the user's IP address called the edns-client-subnet that was not previously transmitted in HTTP requests. This raises the possibility that DNS providers could get more information than they presently do. The group however offers recommendations about network configurations that would limit the ability of third parties to see IP address information.

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