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Oracle and Akamai team up on caching initiative

Oracle and Akamai Technologies announced their first technology collaboration on 30 April, a jointly developed markup language dubbed Edge Side Includes (ESI) that is intended to speed up delivery of dynamic Web pages.

ESI uses Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)-like tags to enable the dynamic assembly of page fragments, allowing static page elements to be cached and shortening the overall delivery time of a Web page. The two companies said they would submit ESI to a standards organisation in May, although they would not say to which standards group. In the meantime, Oracle and Akamai will publish the specification on their Web sites.

Oracle plans to implement ESI as part of the built-in Web caching system of the next version of its Oracle9i Application Server, scheduled to ship worldwide in May. Also in May, Akamai will incorporate ESI into its EdgeSuite package of services for Internet content and applications delivery.

"ESI can dramatically reduce the infrastructure costs when you're serving Web pages and Web applications," said John Magee, Oracle's senior director of product marketing for Oracle9i. Akamai said the technology would help its customers by improving their Web sites' user experience and lowering their costs.

ESI will function with either Oracle's technology or with Akamai's. While the companies hope customers will use their products in tandem and emphasised the additional performance gains in doing so, products from both are not required.

International Data Corp. (IDC) analyst Lucinda Borovick applauded the initiative. "For the first time, in one bundled package, the content developer can take part in the content delivery network, both from a static and dynamic content standpoint," she said.

She expressed doubts, however, about the companies' ability to perpetuate ESI as an industry-wide standard. "I'm certainly sceptical about widespread adoption outside of the Oracle base," Borovick said. "But they're one of the leaders, and it will only help Akamai gain a foothold.

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