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FineGround Networks: Meet the Condenser

A new caching solution created for speeding up content delivery was launched at DEMO 2001 in Phoenix, Ariz. Monday.

Billed as the go-to product in FineGround Networks Inc.'s fledgling arsenal, FineGround Condenser is the end result of a new technology that enables content and service providers cut down on costs while granting clients extremely fast content delivery.

Dubbed Condensation technology, FineGround's intent is not to replace Web caching, but to complement it. True to its name, the product works by miniaturizing dynamic content in real-time. For instance, dynamically generated Web pages that are visited regularly by a user or a group of users typically change only by a few percent between successive visits.

FineGround Condenser transmits only the changes in the page between successive visits, which eliminates extra network traffic. This often results in bandwidth savings of up to 95 percent and accordingly, an improvement in the end users' online experience.

The software is installed at the content provider between the content server and the Internet. It is also self-sufficient: condenser automatically minimizes content without requiring any changes to the content, content server, or end users' Web browsers.

What makes Condenser important?

Nat Kausik, chief executive officer and president of FineGround Networks, acknowledged that although the Internet generally provides a sufficient platform for the intelligent delivery of static content, it lacks the network intelligence required to handle dynamically generated content such as e-business transactions, news and stock quotes that are continuously updated on a Web site.

"Our mission is to deliver scalable content acceleration solutions that not only impact the quality of service delivered to end-users, but also reduce bandwidth costs by an order of magnitude for our customers," Kausik said.

FineGround's contention is that users will pay the $50,000 (base price) for the Condenser to scale back bandwidth costs. Targeted to embracers of the open-source movement, the product is currently available on Linux platforms.

With Monday's news, FineGround became the latest content delivery firm to tantalize the industry with a new offering.

A couple of weeks ago, Novell quietly morphed its caching engine division into a what it hopes will be an all-purpose content delivery platform, called Volera Inc. The outfit is co-backed by Accenture and Nortel Networks.

On Monday, Volera lifted the secretive veil from its new products, the purpose of which sounds very much like Condenser's goals: Volvera aims to combine caching and content management services to create a creating a platform that speeds content delivery.

Volera, like FineGround, acknowledged that the Internet is sufficiently suited for low-bandwidth purposes, but that it must be improved if more advanced technologies -- streaming media, decentralized Web sites, or broadcast events -- are to thrive.

Those in the CDN space who listen to Volera's investment bank Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter have reason to be encouraged: the bank estimates the market for content networking, which includes caching, content distribution services and switching infrastructure, will reach $22 billion by 2004.