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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) August 24, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article Today! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Fill the Need for Speed with Content Delivery Services 3. NET NEWS: * Security Flaw Discovered in Webmail System * Handheld Sales Set to Double This Year * Arachne Error Attacks User's Systems * Forbes Tries Embedded Web Links

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. OPEN PUBLISHING: Submit Your Article Today!

Every Thursday the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas. Your words could be here!


This week, Jon Zeeff of SolidSpeed Networks gives us an overview of Content Delivery Services from an insider's perspective. Is a CDS the key to making your site faster and more reliable? Read on and find out!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Fill the Need for Speed with Content Delivery Services

>Speed Matters

The Internet is a great way to reach customers - but it also means that your competitors are just a mouse click away. According to Zona Research, $4.6 billion per year is lost due to users abandoning slow Web sites. Providing a fast and reliable Web site helps keep customers at your site. While there are numerous ways to change your Web site content to maximize speed, in this article we'll talk about a way to optimize Web site performance by using a Content Delivery Service (CDS).

> What Is a Content Delivery Service?

A content delivery service uses multiple Web servers distributed across the country to deliver copies of your Web site content. The three primary benefits are speed, reliability, and flash crowd protection.

* Speed:

When a user calls up your CDS-enhanced Web site, the system quickly determines the best site for that user and sends them there. Generally, the fastest site is the closest site. For example, users in California and New York would be directed to servers in their respective states or regions. This approach avoids the congestion and delays involved in a cross-country trip that would occur without a CDS. The increased speed is significant - a CDS will often provide a 2x to 10x speed improvement.

* Reliability:

Because your site is duplicated at multiple locations, you are no longer dependent on a single ISP. If any one server site provided by the CDS goes down, traffic is redirected to another server site, and your users are still able to reach your content. Moreover, if your ISP's server goes down, duplicated content is still available from the CDS's server sites. A CDS can typically provide a 5x improvement in reliability.

* Flash Crowd Protection:

Because a CDS uses multiple, high capacity cache servers, your site gains the capacity to handle large surges in traffic. Such popularity and overload is common and has brought many sites to their knees. We all try to promote our sites - a CDS can assure that a successful promotion doesn't backfire by overloading your Web site to the point where poor performance is driving away users.


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> Things to Look For in a CDS

* Performance Verification:

If you go with a CDS, make sure you get what you paid for. You'll need some type of service to provide ongoing data showing that the CDS is providing speed and reliability to all users. A performance monitoring service included with the CDS service is convenient. Otherwise a separate monitoring system should be considered. Keynote (http://www.keynote.com), for example, costs approximately $500/month per URL monitored.

* Transparency:

All of the content delivery services are transparent to your users. Your users can enter your URL in their browser, link to your site, and bookmark your pages as usual. However, a content delivery service should be transparent to you as well.

Ideally, you shouldn't need to make any changes to your Web site's pages. Some services require changes to all of the image links in all your pages. Such a technique also means that the name of your CDS provider is displayed at the bottom of the browser screen as images are loaded, possibly diluting your marketing message. It is not necessary to settle for this inconvenience, and it impedes your ability to switch to a new CDS provider quickly if needed.

Also investigate the procedures needed when you update your content. Typically, the CDS needs some type of notification that you have changed the content on your site so that it can re-update its copies of your pages and avoid distributing an outdated version.

* Log Files:

Another issue is getting accurate log files. Since hits that previously came directly to your Web site now go to the CDS network, the CDS should provide some simple mechanism to retrieve your log files so that hits can be analyzed. Be forewarned that services that only handle images and not HTML files can lead to unnecessary headaches. Such a service provides a log file that contains only image hits, while your ISP provides another log file that contains HTML. Integrating the two can be difficult, particularly if they are in different log file formats. Services that handle only images leave you with two log files that need to be combined.

> Providers

Three leading providers of domestic content delivery services are SolidSpeed Networks, Digital Island, and Akamai. Here's a brief look at each:

* SolidSpeed Networks:

SolidSpeed targets small to medium-sized businesses with a reasonably priced service that includes performance measurement. The service accelerates HTML and images and generally doesn't require changes to Web site content. The SolidSpeed Web site provides a simple mechanism to notify the CDS of content changes. Complete log files are also available from the Web site. They offer a variety of pricing options, based on the number of hits your site receives each month. Cost is based on hits used for the month. Minimum is $50/month and scales upward. See http://www.solidspeed.com/ for details.

* Digital Island:

Digital Island merged with Sandpiper, the first standalone CDS. The company targets medium to large companies, providing content deliver service for larger sites. HTML and images are accelerated. Cost is peak bandwidth based at approximately $18 per gigabyte served with a $1500/month minimum. See http://www.digitalisland.com/ for details.

* Akamai:

Akamai concentrates on accelerating graphic and multimedia content for large-company sites. Their technology does not speed up HTML content. Modifications to Web site content are needed, and Akamai provides tools to assist with this process. Akamai's pricing is peak bandwidth based and starts at $2000 per megabit per second served per month with a 12 month minimum contract. See http://www.akamai.com/ for details.

> Summary

A CDS is the way to go if you are interested in accelerating your site, making it more reliable, and providing a better user experience. Most of the CDS providers offer a free trial, allowing you to fully evaluate their service before purchasing.

For more information and links about Content Delivery Services, head to: http://webreference.com/internet/software/site_management/cdns.html


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***********************************************************adv.*** About the author:

Jon Zeeff is Chief Technical Officer at SolidSpeed Networks, a leading provider of content delivery services to the small and medium-sized business market. After much experience with the challenges of single-site hosting for sites such as http://www.ameritech.com/ and http://www.gateway.com/, he feels that the need for optimal performance will drive the majority of Web content to be served from multiple locations. You can find out more about SolidSpeed at http://www.solidspeed.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Security Flaw Discovered in Webmail System, Handheld Sales Set to Double This Year, Arachne Error Attacks User's Systems, Forbes Tries Embedded Web Links

>Security Flaw Discovered in Webmail System

A serious security flaw found in the Web-based email service from Critical Path Inc. potentially affects more than 22 million people, including users of Webmail offerings from CompuServe, ICQ, AltaVista, Network Solutions, US West, and others. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_444201,00.html InternetNews.com, 000823

>Handheld Sales Set to Double This Year

The skyrocketing sales of handheld computers, once attractive only to the geeky and affluent, reflect the expanding market for information appliances, according to a new report. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-200-2601871.html CNET.com, 000824


allNetDevices 2000 Seminar - September 18th in San Francisco Register today for the definitive seminar on wireless and wired Net devices. You learn what's hot, how to mobilize your Web-site, the keys to successful business models, and much more. Get all the information and contacts you'll need to make your device, application or content a success. Special bonus: collocated with Web Developer 2000. Attend both for price of one! For more info: go to http://seminars.internet.com


>Arachne Error Attacks User's Systems

The Arachne browser will never threaten Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator for market share dominance. But a data- destroying programming error in the current version of the slim and fast browser for DOS and Linux systems certainly isn't helping its popularity. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_445381,00.html InternetNews.com, 000824

>Forbes Tries Embedded Web Links

Forbes is mailing out free handheld digital readers to all 810,000 of its subscribers to see if they'll take to the idea of jumping around the Net by scanning little bar codes in ads and stories. http://www.infobeat.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=2569113289-e86 Infobeat, 000822


Don't Miss the Must-Attend Event for the Developer Community WebDeveloper Conference 2000 * Sept.18, 2000 * San Francisco Check out the latest resources & tech info and hear what the experts have to say about the latest tools and tricks available to Developers. Produced by WebDeveloper.com. Register today - space is limited and will sell-out. For more conference details and to register go to: http://seminars.internet.com/webdev/sf00/ ***********************************************************adv.***

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

Catherine Levy Assistant Editor, WebReference.com clevy@internet.com

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