Content Delivery Gets Smart

Center-to-edge systems streamline delivery, but bidirectional schemes will offer more flexibility.

Intelligent content delivery systems are expected to gain prominence during the next few years as the key technology for powering distance learning and document management systems, as well as the Internet content caching market.

Center-to-edge content delivery systems—the next step in intelligent delivery—are emerging now, offering complete packages that encompass both software and hardware and, thus, better manageability. These systems will be most appealing to organizations that have a single data creation point (at the "center") and must spread content all the way out to the edges of the network, such as global companies with distance learning requirements.

eWeek Labs tested one such scheme, Network Appliance Inc.s Center-to-Edge Solution, which became available earlier this year. We found that the company has taken advantage of the strong software in its appliances to make its hardware/software combination more manageable. For example, using the snapshot capabilities of the NetApp Filers and cache units, the process of content distribution becomes more intelligent because the NetApp hardware is smart enough to send only file changes (as opposed to whole files) when a change is made to a file.