Inktomi Puts Some Cache in Compaq

Compaq Computer Corp. Wednesday agreed to implant Inktomi Corp.’s caching and media distribution software platforms into its content-networking server appliances.

Specifically, the companies will fit Compaq TaskSmart C-Series content acceleration appliances with Inktomi Traffic Server network caching software and Inktomi MediaBridge media distribution software.

Michael Hoch, senior analyst of Internet infrastructure at Aberdeen Group, said the deal was not really surprising.

“Inktomi was the only software-focused vendor left in the caching market,” Hoch told Wednesday. “They’re finding a way to optimize on Compaq’s hardware.”

To that end, Inktomi seems to have won out with this Compaq deal over possible contenders such as the Novell Inc. caching spinoff Volera Inc., CacheFlow and Infolibria.

Compaq and Inktomi seek to take network acceleration systems up a notch with this agreement, as they plan to co-create content-aware appliance solutions designed to optimize streaming media and other file types, such as e-mail or customer orders. The goal is to offer service providers and enterprises a deeper level of quality of service by situating transparent content-aware networks from Inktomi on top of Compaq’s existing infrastructure hardware.

Essentially, Compaq would sell the servers to small- and medium-sized businesses or service providers, which would in turn use the TaskSmart’s, loaded with Inktomi’s popular caching platform, to keep data closer to end users for fast recall.

This is no small detail for service providers who want to make sure their end users get served their up-to-the-minute Web pages at a moment’s notice.

According to research firm Cahners/DataMonitor, Internet users spent an extra 2.5 billion hours waiting for Web pages to download in 1999. The outfit also found that 78 percent of all attempted Web transactions are discontinued due to slow response times each year. More than $1.6 billion in additional revenue could have been made if businesses worldwide had better Internet infrastructure services.

Under terms of the agreement, for which financial terms were not disclosed, Compaq and Inktomi will collaborate on a range of engineering and marketing programs. Compaq, who with the deal also linked arms with Inktomi as the software maker’s “premier design partner” for networking platforms, plans to introduce the first of its TaskSmart C-Series server appliances based on Inktomi Traffic Server engine in the second quarter of 2001.

Since their inception in July 1999, Compaq’s TaskSmart server appliances have been a dominant force in the server appliance market, which features Hewlett Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp., IBM Computer Corp. Oracle Computer Corp., and for a short while, Intel Corp.

However, in January 2001, Compaq, along with other original equipment manufacturers, took on the task of reselling Intel’s NetStructure appliance line, as the chipmaker was forced to shift its strategy in November 2000 among customer complaints.

Research firm IDC pegs the server appliance market to break the $11-billion barrier by 2004.

Such content acceleration deals between caching specialists like Inktomi and major hardware or software makers are becoming increaingly common.

Also Wednesday, software application outfit Corel Corp. tabbed Digital Island’s popular Footprint content acceleration service to speed up e-commerce transactions, software downloads and access to the Corel Web site.

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