Internet tubes and caching servers – a primer and why you should use them

August 2, 2006

“The internet is a series of tubes” – In reality it’s quite difficult to describe the internet but for the links that connect internet sites to each other and internet users to each other and to sites, a tube is not a bad analogy.

There was a website called boo.com which was huge ? it was the next big thing; right in the middle of the dot-com boom along came boo.com in a blaze of glory and it really raised the bar in terms of website design. Unfortunately it raised the bar too far, too early, it consisted of a fantastic (at the time) interactive interface but at that time most users were still on dial up (before ADSL) and the site was simply too slow ? unbearably so. Boo.com was one of the first dot-com?s to go and it all went downhill from there.

Nowadays most people have broad band (a horrible misuse of the term but it seems to have stuck) connections, I appreciate that many are still on dial up but to be honest, I don?t care about them and neither do most websites; some people still choose to listen to music on vinyl but you wont see Apple releasing a VinylPod. Broadband is not unlimited, none of the links in the internet are, they all have limits. If you?re streaming a video to your PC doing a download and talking on Skype you may well find your Skype call breaks up, in fact since ADSL is shared, even if you are only talking on Skype you may find your call breaks up if your neighbours start downloading movies at the same time.

As fast as the ?tubes? are expanded, the volume of content people want to move through them also increases ? or more, more streaming content, video on demand, always on TV streaming, High Definition streaming to your new, internet connected, High Def LCD TV.

There is a solution that is already in place and can make a significant different if only content providers would use it, this solution is caching servers.
The coral CDN network (http://www.coralcdn.org/) is a worldwide array of caching servers, if a content provider chooses to use this free service then instead of you downloading the content directly from their server the redirect you to your nearest coral CDN caching server which also stores a copy of the data. Since it is much closer it is faster and causes less load on the internet in general.

To put it in perspective, if YouTube used coral CDN to serve thjeir content via cache, their bandwidth bill would drop from$1.5 Million per month to about $100 per month.

A website like TWiT.tv could be run using this method on a $10 a month hosting plan with no need to rely on AOL for their podcast hosting.

Do you see? – Minority Report (2002)

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