Startup uses new technology to out-Akamai Akamai

Instart Logic speeds delivery of content to wireless devices

Instart Logic is taking on the likes of Akamai and Amazon Cloudfront with a Web app-streaming service it says can cut in half the time it takes to load pages and applications to wireless devices.

The company claims it can drastically reduce the “time to experience” Web applications, and at worst the service performs on a par with competitors by falling back on the customary CDN techniques for speeding up downloads, says Instart Logic’s CEO Manav Mital.

[PRIMER: Who needs a CDN?

COMPETITION: Akamai brews up more delicious Kona security tools]

Competitors boost app and Web page performance by placing content closer to the parties requesting it but still require downloading all the content before the screen is complete, says Bob Gill, a Gartner analyst.

We can reduce the “time to experience” Web apps.

— CEO Manav Mital

The difference Instart Logic brings into play is a JavaScript shim called an HTML5 NanoVisor, which gathers data on how an application downloads into a client browser. This information is fed back to an AppSequencer within Instart Logic’s network that analyzes how key elements of applications or Web pages are sent.

AppSequencer fragments elements of, say, a Web page and prioritizes which fragments are sent first. That way those that are necessary to establish enough content so users can start interacting with the page arrive first and the rest of the content continues to download in the background.

The first user to access a fresh page won’t benefit from NanoVisor and AppSequencer because the system doesn’t have the information to make intelligent fragmenting and sequencing decisions. But over time AppSequencer learns about individual apps and pages and refines its optimization of them, Mital says.

Overall the actual full download takes just as long as it would with a CDN, but users can start using the page sooner, Mital says. So a photo that is an element of a Web page might be rendered in low resolution initially, then fill in gradually to higher resolution, he says.

Instart Logic caches fragments of static elements of customers’ pages at its 30 points of presence worldwide for redundancy as well as locating the information as close as possible to end users to reduce network delay.

Disruptor Beam is a customer of Instart Logic that uses the service to front its Game of Thrones Ascent game that pumps out a lot of 2D pictures. It chose Instart over other CDNs including Akamai because its performance was about 75% better, says CEO Jon Radoff. It tested over a wired network for latency of individual content requests and of loading times for individual pages.

He says InStart’s prices are comparable to Akamai’s, but a confidentiality agreement prevented him from saying exactly what the prices were.

Instart’s Mital says the company doesn’t reveal pricing publicly, but factors that affect pricing include whether connections are encrypted, whether traffic is spikey, where users are located and the type of application being optimized.

Based in Mountain View, Calif., the company was founded by Mital, Raghu Venkat and Hari Kolam all of whom previously worked at Aster Data, a data management and analysis software firm. It has $26 million in venture backing from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and Tenaya Capital.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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