Inktomi deals with AOL, Digital

The search technology company strikes deals with America Online and Digital Equipment to provide the firms with caching software.

Inktomi today announced that it cut deals with America Online and Digital Equipment to provide the companies with caching software.

The announcements come on top of a deal Inktomi made several months ago to develop a search engine for Microsoft.

While other search engine companies are trying to turn themselves into gateway sites on the Net, Inktomi for the past two years has been quietly developing technology that will help it stick to its original goal of supplying software to make the Internet move faster and more efficiently, David Peterschmidt, chief executive of Inktomi, said today.

"Inktomi is an infrastructure software company," Peterschmidt said. "Our underpinning technology is going to allow the Internet to scale up. Our software architecture is all about extreme scalability."

The deal with AOL will certainly help promote Inktomi, a privately funded company that just completed a $14 million round of private placement funding and could be going public.

"Inktomi is a company that's emerging in the marketplace, and to have the endorsement of AOL is obviously a big help to Inktomi," Peterschmidt said.

The software will replace the caching technology that AOL built and has used on its own. Caching, in which frequently requested information is captured and stored for future users, saves companies money both in telecommunications and hardware costs. It also can save end users time because they don't have to wait for sites to be contacted directly whenever they request a Web page from the host server.

But caching is not without its opponents. Users have complained that caching sometimes results in them getting older pages. And advertisers and Web site producers complain for the same reasons: fewer updates mean fewer possibilities of serving up new ads.

Net providers, especially huge services such as AOL, are constantly trying to balance the need for constant updates with the need for speed.

Peterschmidt said Inktomi's system takes all that into consideration.

"This cache was built from the ground up, specifically to address caching on the Internet and the whole idea of freshness vs. dynamic content," he said.

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