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PreCache 'Pushes' New Messaging Platform

Is "push" technology making a comeback in the Internet world? Haters of spam -- the ultimate push technology used over the Internet -- would argue it never went away.

Others say the concept is but one part of the Web Services movement, which is fundamentally about making applications interface over a network such as the Internet, rather than using the traditional client-server model, whose constant need for Web page-refreshing places heavy demands on multiple servers, which can lead to bottlenecks.

PreCache, Inc., a messaging/push technology company funded by entertainment giant Sony , said despite the wide reach of today's Internet, pervasive-computing services (which "push" real-time information to millions of people according to their preferences) have been impractical on a wide scale.

That's because the Internet is not an effective "one-to-many" medium such as broadcasting, which pushes content to the recipient whether or not it's requested. Many forms of push technology end up creating network bottlenecks.

But the Bridgewater, N.J.-based PreCache said it has found a way around the problem with its introduction of NetInjector, a publish/subscribe platform for sending information nuggets to many Internet-connected devices. The product is aimed at helping infrastructure providers, services providers and device manufacturers to deliver pervasive-computing and Web Services applications.

For starters, PreCache moved its publish/subscribe technology from the server to the network through event routing, a technology that works to bypass repeated, bandwidth-hogging browser requests for information and data. The core of the company's platform is built on three technologies: intelligent message routing, event agents/adaptors, and distributed channels, the company said.

The event routing core uses content-based routing algorithms, which are baked into software or a chip and run on application servers or within networking devices themselves.

The second piece of the technology uses an event agent, which PreCache calls the equivalent of an application's IP stack. The agent is where the application programming interface (API) resides, and which connects the application software to its event routing core. The agent runs on end-devices, including servers, desktops, laptops, cell phones and set-top boxes connected to NetInjector-enabled networks.

The third component involves channel services, or the equivalent of a domain naming service for publish/subscribe communications, PreCache said. Deployed on servers and/or appliances, the channel services are where names of publishers and subscribers on the "push" service, and the data they are requesting or serving, are mapped to other network addresses.

Unlike the IP-polling method of messaging, PreCache's publish/subscribe platform is built to enable continuous flow of information.

The idea of "pushing" information got a bad rap in the late 1990s because the applications use to send automated information requests to clients placed heavy demands on servers and bandwidth.

But companies are increasingly building persistent applications that build on the "push" technology of years ago, such as Juice Software, which creates application extenders that pipe real-time market data into Excel spreadsheets.

KnowNow, in Mountain View, Calif., is another company that specializes in message-routing software. Its event router technology also uses client-side code embedded in browsers and applications in order to create communications that resemble client-server requests that maintain persistent connections between browsers and applications.

In May of 2002, Openwave Systems , which builds software for wireless portals, launched its WAP Push Library (Java Edition 1.0), where mobile developers can access information and resources about push technology for mobile services such as multi-media messaging services (MMS), instant messaging and multi-user games.