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MIT Scientists Develop Content Distribution System

A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have launched a new company to market and manage what the group calls the world's largest fault-tolerant network for distributing Web content.

Akamai Technologies Inc. has developed a proprietary network using patent-pending technology developed over the last three years at MIT. The network is used to speed the delivery of richer Web pages, allowing content providers with large audiences to serve visitors reliably and economically using servers located near the end users.

The team of researchers was led by Frank Thomas Leighton, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, now the company's chief scientist.

The company has already released its first product, called FreeFlow, which uses the technology the group developed to shift the most complicated aspects of Web content distribution away from the content providers to Akamai's network of global servers.

"Our technology is revolutionary in terms of its ability to distribute and manage content over a large network without disrupting the content provider's direct relationship with the end user," Leighton said.

"Akamai's FreeFlow content distribution service is designed to be fault-tolerant and highly-responsive to our clients' needs. It promises to be a boon for a wide variety of Internet entertainment and information providers as well as many e-commerce and online businesses."

Akamai said its global network of hundreds of servers allows Web sites to handle quick peaks in demand that can sometimes overwhelm servers, making it impossible for them to efficiently handle traffic.

FreeFlow is compatible with any Web server or site design, including e-commerce and database applications.

Akamai has received more than $8 million in initial funding from two Massachusetts-based venture capital firms. Several private investors have also contributed money for the first round of financing.

Akamai's board of directors include George Conrades, now a venture capitalist at Polaris Venture Partners. Conrades was previously president of GTE Internetworking.



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