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CMGI Forges New B2B Network

Internet incubator CMGI Inc. continued its series of B2B developments Tuesday with the birth of a new firm, CMG-Internet Operating Network.

Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc. will each lend technical support and invest $20 million in CMGion, which will serve as a global network of profile-based services.

Designed to speed up the delivery of applications and content, the new venture will act as an "infomediary" between clients and servers. The incubator said the new network will "mine the flow" of Net traffic by profiling and delivering any type of content, creating an "infostructure" to support personal portals.

CMGI said its newest creation is a move to stay ahead of the B2B curve, in which they believe the linking of content, consumers and information flow is crucial.

CMGI (CMGI) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Wetherell will serve as interim CEO. The new firm will be based in CMGI's corporate headquarters in Andover, Mass.

Novell (NOVL) plans to provide the software platform including protocol, directory and caching services based upon its directory-enabled Net infrastructure model as the core technologies for CMGion. Sun (SUNW) will offer appliances, server platforms and operating system components.

In addition, CMGion will incorporate anonymous profiling technology from Engage Technologies Inc. (ENGA) and services from key network partners such as NaviSite (NAVI), which is deploying an infrastructure as well as allowing CMGion access to its data centers and hosting nodes.

In a conference call Tuesday, Weatherell said the goal of CMGion is to cut out the "middle man" aspect of content provision, which he said the edge servers offered by such Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) and Sandpiper Networks are known for.

The creation of CMGion as a main data network, he said, will make caching and Web hosting much more rapid and personal to clients.

"With the edge servers, you might only get 2 to 3 percent of the content you want," Weatherell said. "What we want to do with CMGion is not rely on replicas of sites to provide content."

Weatherell said there would ultimately be three dozen to five dozen data centers all over the world and that CMGI would eventually allow other firms to connect to the new caching and hosting services for a fee later to be determined.

The latest move comes in the wake of a number of small strategic investments the incubator has made. On Monday, CMGI took a 4.9 percent stake in software firm Netcentives Inc. (NCNT). In March, CMGI formed a $1.5 billion venture fund with Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and Pacific Century CyberWorks.



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