Competition is picking up in the market for services that accelerate Internet application response times.
As larger vendors acquire competitors in the Internet speed-up service space, Netli Inc. says it too is a player in optimizing the user-to-Web application connection.
Netli is offering a service-level agreement that guarantees customers will see an increase of two times in the speed of delivery of content or transactions with the use of its Netli NetLightning service.
Optimizing the wide area network has been an active field as E-commerce has grown. Juniper Networks Inc. bought Peribit Networks Inc. in April. Peribit was a WAN optimization company. Cisco Systems acquired FineGround Networks Inc. in May to help build its Application-Oriented Network technology. Improving the response times of users of Web applications is expected to pay big dividends as Web sites try to attract more traffic. In May, Internet content speed-up service supplier Akamai Technologies Inc. offered Akamai Application Accelerator, which speeds up the response time of applications running across the Internet.
"Competition in this market will continue to escalate over the next year," says Jim Metzler, an analyst at Ashton, Metzler & Associates, which provides IT and employee performance-optimization consulting services.
Netli is making its guarantee of doubling the speed of application response, even though Internet users typically cross more than one carrier to get to their chosen Web site. Most SLAs stop at the edge of the host site's service provider's network because the SLA supplier can't guarantee service will be uniform across the Internet, says Gary Messiana, CEO of 2-year-old Netli, a 50-employee company. Netli can make such a promise because it substitutes its own faster protocol over the top of the public TCP/IP-based Internet, while working through conventional Internet start and stop points.
"We have a very predictable network. We manage the network across carriers," Messiana says.
The Netli network overlays the Internet, making use of its conventions and carrier segments but speeding up the traffic. Instead of 30 round trips for delivery of the typical 70-Kbyte Web page, the Netli protocol uses two to three round trips of message and content delivery to complete the exchange, says Brian de Haff, senior director of product management.
A Netli customer agrees to change the URL reference of its Web site at the Internet's domain name servers. A user seeking the URL, instead of being routed to the customer's site the usual way over the Internet, is routed into a Netli virtual data center nearby. The user's query is then shifted out of the usual TCP/IP, which includes a lot of handshaking between servers, to a more efficient Netli protocol that routes the user query to the customer site by the fastest route available.
Netli designed its initial service for speeding up application responses to the browsers of individual users, but Michael Grubb, LookSmart Ltd.'s chief technology officer, says he convinced the company that its NetLightning would speed up machine-to-machine communications as well. LookSmart.com delivers targeted advertising and sponsored search results to its business partners' Web sites. LookSmart uses NetLightning to speed up the delivery of those results.
"We've seen up to a 60% reduction in long-haul latency," Grubb says. LookSmart needed NetLightning because "the speed of delivery matters to our customers. It means a better end-user experience," he says
Savvis Communications Corp. also offers Internet speed-up as a virtual service, guaranteeing quality of service and service-level agreements for application services delivered around the globe.
Swan Labs Corp. offers WebAccelerator to speed up applications inside the data center. On Monday, it introduced WANJet, which speeds delivery of application results over the Internet.
Application speed-up is different from Internet content speed-up because the application is supplying a specific response, often as a result of inputs from a user, that's geared to that individual.
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