Peter Cranstone: WebReference Featured Interview | WebReference

Peter Cranstone: WebReference Featured Interview

Interview with Peter Cranstone, CEO of Remote Communications

Many of you asked about our HTTP compression story: "That's great, but where's the software?" mod_gzip is now available for Apache! This open source server module acts as an Internet content accelerator and seamlessly speeds up your site. This updated overview of HTTP compression now includes mod_gzip test results, and where you can download the code. By Peter Cranstone.

We interviewed Peter Cranstone about mod_gzip, which his company released to the public Friday. Peter is the founder and CEO of Remote Communications, a Colorado-based company specializing in accelerating content delivery for wired and wireless applications.

WEBREF> What's the response been to releasing mod_gzip last week?

PETER CRANSTONE> In a word, overwhelming. Almost all of the response has come from outside the United Sates. It seems like everyone has been waiting for this product for years. We have a person using it on Slovenia and most of his customers access the web at between 6400 and 9600 baud, so compressing the HTML pages by 80% makes and incredible difference. (BTW, Wireless connections in the US are about the same speed)

WR> Tell us about mod_gzip, how does it work?

PC> It's a very straightforward module. It's purpose in life is compress HTML documents in compliance with the IETF content encoding spec. (This spec allows browsers which are HTTP 1.1 compliant to decompress gziped content). A user makes a request for a static document from an Apache server. If the user's browser is HTTP 1.1 compliant (we can tell this from header information the browser transmits with the request) then mod_gzip compresses the data and transmits it to the user.

WR> Does it works with dynamic content and ad software?

PC> The module does not work with dynamic content, however it will compress HTML ads which are static. Let me expand a little further. While it's true the Apache modules communicate with each other on a limited basis, the modules which generate dynamic content, mostly mod_perl, mod_cgi are not able to communicate with mod_gzip. The new version of Apache (2.0) which is on the drawing board is hopefully going to resolve this with something called "filtering." We are closely monitoring the Apache Group to ensure that when 2.0 is stable enough we have a solution for dynamic content. In the meantime the only other solution is to download one of our other products like the RCTPD Web Accelerator which supports dynamic content compression.

WR> Why did you decide to go open source?

PC> To demonstrate the real need for this piece of software and by being Open you get wider adoption. Most people never thought HTML would grow as large as it has. By the time we start using XML we will see file sizes grow to hundreds of thousands of bytes. It's already slow over a 28K modem, when we switch to wireless it's essential we transmit data more efficiently.

WR> On behalf of Web developers everywhere, thanks for releasing mod_gzip to the Web, and for supporting it. However, you've obviously got to make money, what do your other products offer over the free version?

PC> You're welcome. We've split our offerings into 4 core areas. They can be summed up as follows:

1. Speed HyperSpace -- Content Acceleration.
2. Connectivity ElseWare -- Web clipping.
3. Functionality EMAS -- Electronic Messaging Alert System.
4. Integration Your Space -- Integrated Portal in the Browser.

The goal has always been to move data more efficiently over the Internet. Our core speed products are sophisticated programs all under 100K in size which accelerate content over the Web for any device. HyperSpace also includes the ability to not only compress text/HTML/XML in real time but has advanced Image optimization controls which can scale, convert to black and white, and image optimize graphics on the fly. In the connectivity arena, ElseWare allows us the ability to "clip" data from any existing or dynamic content and then deliver if reformatted and compressed for any target screen size. EMAS gives us the ability to notify the user of timely news events. These can be delivered directly in to our Your Space portal in the browser. This is essentially a "brandable" section of real estate in the top right hand corner of the browser. It supports, audio, video, HTML/XML/JavaScript (all compressed of course). As they say a picture is worth a thousand words...

BTW, the commercial version of HyperSpace(R) includes a "smart snap in engine design." This allows new compression algorithms for different MIME types.

More with Peter Cranstone

Comments are welcome

Revised: Ocotber 17, 2000