Netli aims to deliver Web apps faster

* Netli works to speed up pipework rather than shortening the pipes

Delivering data globally across the Internet is problematic if you want to ensure reasonable response times for anyone anywhere. That was the reason for the creation of Akamai's EdgeSuite services.

The next logical step was for Akamai to provide support for distributed applications which resulted in a product called "EdgeComputing Powered by WebSphere." The company describes that product as providing "one-button network deployment, embedded IBM database technology, and Web services caching capabilities."

This is all well and good as long as you are running WebSphere. If you aren't then you might want to check out Netli, a provider of distributed Web application service that requires no changes to your code and doesn't depend on using a specific development system. This service, called NetLightning, is built on something the company calls its Reliable Application Platform for Instant Delivery (RAPID) service architecture.

Now there are two other major differences between Netli's approach and service delivery networks such as Akamai's. Firstly, as a customer you still have to provide the computing power to drive your applications because, secondly, Netli is all about speeding up the pipework rather than shortening the pipes.

To achieve this Netli has 13 points of presence worldwide which it calls Virtual Data Centers (VDC). These VDCs are interlinked with high-speed connections and are the points to which customer's data centers and Internet user's browsers link. To use Netli's service customers redirect their server's DNS entries to point to Netli.

The way Netli works is interesting: When a browser requests content from a Netli customer's server, it is handled by a Netli server that acts as a proxy server, repackages the request in a proprietary protocol and dispatches it to the VDC that supports the customer. From there the request is sent to the target server. The server's response is returned to the VDC and sent using Netli's protocol to the originating VDC, translated back into TCP/HTTP/HTTPS and sent to the originating browser. 

What is really interesting is that Netli's proxy service strips out the protocol "chatter" from TCP and HTTP - that's the sequence of acknowledgements and controls that are simply overhead on a highly reliable network.

In other words, what the company is doing is ensuring that there is an optimal round trip time routing for any request as well as speeding up server browser sessions through protocol optimization.

Netli has a good customer success story in supporting Web applications for HP's Developer & Solution Partner Program (DSPP), in Atlanta, where it reduced download times for browsers in Tokyo from 6.55 seconds to an impressive 0.75 seconds.

Because customers retain their own data centers, don't have to make any changes to their applications, and get a quantifiable band for the buck, Netli has, I believe, found a sweet spot in the market. Watch this company, it is onto something big.

Learn more about this topic

Akamai revs up Java, WebSphere apps

Network World Web Applications Newsletter, 05/12/03

Netli

Netli's NetLightning

NetLightning case studies

DNS is busting out all over

Network World, 07/28/03

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