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Consortium proposes Net acceleration standard

MS-backed Akamai sets itself against Sun-sponsored rival

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Web content delivery acceleration specialist Akamai and a consortium of fellow Internet companies have proposed a standard mechanism to bring Net services closer to the user. The scheme calls for the development of a standard called the Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (ICAP), to be submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force early next year. I

CAP will be designed to facilitate the operation of Net services, such as advertising and virus scanning, across multiple client platforms. Essentially, ICAP is about making the Net even more platform-agnostic than it is already. It also standardises mechanisms for sharing content across multiple servers around the globe, allowing users to access data from local systems and so do so more quickly - which is, of course, what Akamai is all about.

Akamai's scheme is supported by Network Appliance, Novell, Oracle, Network Associates, Allaire, Broadvision, Exodus Communications, Open Market and Finjan Software. Akamai is backed and its network used by Apple and Microsoft, so ICAP could well win the support of these companies too, particularly given Bill Gates' recent pronouncements on the future of streaming media on the Net.

Streaming media are probably more sensitive to network lag than any other application, so speeding the connection to the user is key to proving the technology can deliver high quality, full-screen, full-motion video via the web. Cisco is also a major investor in the company - it's looking to incorporate Akamai technology in its routers, so again, Cisco is likely to be very interested in ICAP too. Support from such industry heavyweights would help counter a rival approach from Inktomi and Digital Island, backed by Sun. ®

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