Inktomi tackles Net congestion

The software company takes on network congestion, as well as an $8 million venture-capital infusion.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
Inktomi today announced a plan to tackling network congestion, as well as an $8 million cash infusion from Oak Investment Partners--its first venture-capital backing.

As reported Friday by CNET, these developments signal continued expansion by the more than one-year-old software start-up, which is trying to leverage its technology, such as parallel processing, that already is used for the HotBot search engine, said Kevin Brown, director of marketing for Inktomi. The company was founded by computer scientists from the University of California at Berkeley, and funded by a group of individual investors.

Inktomi, which has an eye toward going public, says its strategy to end the much-publicized "World Wide Wait" centers on "traffic," or network caching servers, which the company describes as software that more efficiently manages the flow of data for ISPs, backbone providers, and the enterprise market. Customers might include Nippon Telephone and Telegraph and OzEmail, along with other ISPs and backbone providers.

Inktomi's servers will be available in the second half of this year, probably in partnership with companies that might include Sun Microsystems, among others. They reduce network traffic by supporting cache sizes of up to one terabyte. Caching refers to storing more than one copy of information on the network to speed access and eliminate the need to send it over long-haul links.

"[Network congestion] is a problem that is coming into prominence and they see caching as a 'no brainer' to be applied to the infrastructure," Brown said. "An estimated 20 percent to 60 percent of traffic is redundant."

Microsoft, Netscape, and Spyglass recently have extended the caching concept to servers.

"Caching isn't new to the Internet--all leading browsers store the most frequently viewed pages in a temporary file for fast, easy retrieval on your desktop," said Inktomi chief executive Eric Brewer in a statement. "Inktomi is extending caching into the network infrastructure to alleviate today's infamous bandwidth overload and build a platform for future growth."

Inktomi says that its technology helps avoid two problems of current networking solutions: sending the same data repeatedly and shipping more data than the receiver can use at any given time.

Oak's investment in Inktomi represents its first venture-capital funding. Oak General Partner Fred Harman will join Inktomi's board as part of the investment. It represents one of Oak's largest investments.

Inktomi has struck search-engine deals with Wired Ventures in the United States, NTT in Japan, and OzEmail in Australia.

The company recently announced a technology advisory board, which includes engineers from Sun, Microsoft, and UC Berkeley.