In a classic case of David vs. Goliath, several content-distribution providers are banding together with other vendors to offer a geographic reach intended to rival that of entrenched industry leader Akamai Technologies Inc., which boasts a system of servers in roughly 200 networks worldwide.
The Content Bridge Alliance says it was formed to provide faster access to fresher content for dot-coms. The intent, although sketchy, is to eventually provide a content-distribution offering that can span multiple networks and offer users much-needed content-delivery statistics.
Alliance members include Akamai rivals Adero, Digital Island, Mirror Image, and Madge.web, along with hosters Exodus and Genuity, content providers America Online and NetRail, and caching infrastructure products giant Inktomi. Adero will ensure content is updated across all member networks and provide users with billing and settlement services for cross-network traffic.
"Our role is to make sure this cooperative sharing of networks works," says Al Fink, senior VP of Adero. Although it's somewhat unclear if and how long some content-delivery members will sell their existing services with the cross-network one, Adero plans to offer both, he adds. The service is slated for launch this fall.
"The reason this is happening is because users need greater geographic reach," says Alex Benik, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "And like the old days of the railroads, these content-delivery players realize they can grow the industry by interconnecting. As a CIO, I would wonder if the alliance service gave me the same coverage as Akamai does, and I would say it still doesn't."