Started in August of this year, the Content Bridge was a content distribution initiative of monolithic proportions: A collection of content delivery network companies, content providers, and hosting companies working to create a single content delivery platform.
Headed by Foster City, Calif.-based infrastructure developer Inktomi and portal giant America Online, the initial alliance was a major bell tolling the re-integration of the old “content is king” axiom; a standard many pundits (and a few online journalists) have complained was lost in much of the technological uprising of the Net during the past 10 years.
Now three more heavyweight Silicon Valley technology plays have crossed the Bridge, with San Jose-based Alteon WebSystems, Santa Clara-based Intel, and Palo Alto-based Sun Microsystems the first of several planned technical advisory members to help drive web-wide standards for content internetworking. As initial members of the Bridge’s Technical Advisory team, the companies will be tasked with identifying and proposing technology standards that will enable member networks using different technologies to integrate into the Content Bridge. These standards would allow member sites to more easily partner through content sharing models, as well as incorporate high-end technologies and audience reaches from the likes of Inktomi and AOL. Once standards are developed by Technical Advisory Members, the team will submit proposals to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and other standards-setting bodies, in the hopes of eventually extending the Bridge’s span across the entire web.
The Bridge joins the ranks of hundreds of “personalized” content channels trying to tap into markets throughout the web, as well as an amalgamation of syndication houses like San Francisco-based iSyndicate and iVendor. With its strong (and growing) backing, as well as its focus on all ends of the development and sharing process, however, the Bridge may already have crossed its biggest hurdles.
The only question is how far it will reach.
“There is always going to be some resistance to content sharing,” says Forrester Research Senior Analyst Brook Newcomb. “Every firm wants to be the place where consumers aggregate their information, but nobody wants their information aggregated to other sites. Our take is that sites are going to have to get used to it; it’s something out there that major players are adopting.”
Under the current plan, Inktomi will deliver core network infrastructure technology at the backbone of the Bridge, while Adero will be tasked with ensuring content is updated across all member networks, as well as providing centralized billing and settlement services for cross-network transactions. Big poppa AOL will sit back and deploy Content Bridge technology through its extensive network, reaching out to more than 23 million users.
“Adding key technology companies to the Content Bridge alliance should further facilitate the development of standards to enable content internetworking among multiple providers,” says Peter Galvin, VP and general manager at Inktomi and chair of the Content Bridge Executive Committee. “Three of the largest providers of scalable network technology, Alteon, Intel and Sun, bring considerable intellectual capital to the Content Bridge alliance.”
Initial members of the alliance include Adero, Digital Island, Exodus Communications, Genuity, Madge.web, Mirror Image Internet and NetRail.