Content-delivery company Akamai Technologies is continuing its expansion, offering to store and distribute Web media sites' big files, such as audio or video, inside its network.
With the new services, the company extends its reach into the growing broadband world, a task it needs to accomplish to survive. Akamai's original offerings helped speed static content such as text or graphics, but the company has since added streaming media services.
The new service also brings Akamai closer to the territory of the big Web hosting companies, many of which are expanding their own ambitions to include more advanced Internet services.
That could heighten some lingering tension between Akamai and some of the hosting companies it uses as partners, analysts said. Ultimately, the companies are likely to settle into different pieces of the market, they said.
Akamai is "stepping on toes to a certain extent," said Jilami Zeribi, an analyst with Current Analysis. "But I think the Web hosters and Akamai will position themselves for different customers."
Akamai's move is part of a burst of activity in the "managed Internet services" sector, with a host of companies offering different packages of storage, Web traffic and site monitoring, speedy content delivery, and other related services.
The surge in interest in this sector has blurred the lines between businesses that have never had clear dividing lines, causing some friction even between customers that use each other's services, such as Loudcloud and GlobalCenter.
Akamai's new storage service will offer media companies that produce audio, video or other big files the ability to distribute these around a dozen data centers hosting Akamai servers. The content will be stored in centers closest to where there is demand for the files, the company says.
Company executives downplay any overlap with Web hosting companies. They still have good relationships with the big hosting firms, many of which are partners, noted Ravi Sundarajan, Akamai vice president of business development.
"There is a layer of intelligence we add, moving content around based on usage patterns," Sundarajan said. "It's a different value we add."