CacheFlow Unveils cIQ Streaming Services
CacheFlow (www.cacheflow.com) unveiled its cIQ streaming services on Monday, which help deliver streaming content. The new services work with Windows Media, QuickTime and MPEG 4 — support for RealNetworks has been available since June 2000. cIQ supports live and on-demand streaming delivery, including application level multicast support to enable efficient utilization of network resources.
cIQ is part of CacheFlow's content delivery architecture, which represents the first products from CacheFlow's recent acquisition of Entera. The architecture combines components of a content delivery network (CDN), including content delivery, content distribution management, content routing and content tracking, with cIQ to enable networks to communicate between devices, adapt to usage patterns and personalize content.
"With the delivery of the new cIQ streaming services native to our high performance content delivery appliances, we are now offering the most comprehensive support for cost-effective, high quality streaming content delivery," said Patrick Harr, CacheFlow vice president of marketing.
"Next generation rich content for activities such as e-learning, training, corporate communications, and knowledge management will require companies to re-think their WAN and LAN network architecture. Our research indicates that less than ten percent of enterprises are prepared for the network impact of rich media," said Peter Firstbrook, research analyst at Meta Group. "Deploying a centrally managed content delivery network will enable corporations and managed service providers to efficiently deliver rich content and maximize the end-users' quality of experience."
Harr said that end users benefit from CDNs because they get better quality audio and video with less re-buffering. "It improves user response and gives [viewers] a much better experience, as opposed to the world wide wait," said Harr.
Full Suite of CDN Services
CacheFlow announced the cIQ Director, which offers companies a way to manage streaming content. cIQ Director is an appliance that distributes and manages content across all of CacheFlow's cIQ servers. It provides policy-based content distribution, configuration management, and logging capabilities.
"cIQ Director is the brains, which controls the overall content delivery network," said Harr.
Harr says CacheFlow can help manage and control content, from Web server to that edge. "You can push content at 2 a.m. when the network's slow, so when the user comes [to work] at 8 a.m., they have that information," he said.
CacheFlow also announced a partnership with storage company EMC (www.emc.com), to use its CLARiiON information storage as part of its new content delivery offering. "The EMC partnership is a very significant opportunity to leverage the current EMC infrastructure, which is the largest storage company in the world," said Harr.
The new cIQ streaming services will be available in March through CacheFlow and its channel partners.
Streaming in the Enterprise
Harr said that CacheFlow is focusing on the enterprise market, as well as service providers. "That's where buying decisions are being made," he said. Harr sees CacheFlow helps businesses use streaming inside their network. "The majority of the content lies in the enterprise, and we can help companies take advantage of that," he says. "CEO's want to keep in touch with their employees," he said.
Harr also says you need more than a regular Cisco-powered network. "If you stream over a current Cisco network, it will break. It can't handle it. Cisco is very smart about routing packets but dumb about content," he said. "We're content experts, we focus on intelligently moving content from point A to point B for the best user experience possible."
He brushes off companies that offer complete enterprise CDN service solutions saying there are too many issues with control and security. "Large companies don't want to choose to outsource everything. It's not cost effective and you're left unprotected. Plus companies are not comfortable with their private information traveling over a public network like Digital Island."
"The content delivery market is emerging, but has great potential," said William Hurley, program manager, Yankee Group. "Enterprise and service providers are looking for a solution that allows them to customize their content delivery infrastructure by marrying high-performance content delivery with flexible content management and control."
CacheFlow had a rough time last week, when it announced lower than expected results. The company said that the decline in revenue was attributable to "recent macro-economic uncertainty and resulting customer delays in making capital expenditures." CacheFlow also announced a company-wide restructuring, reducing staffing by approximately 10-15 percent. Michael Johnson, vice president and CFO also stepped down last week.
CacheFlow's stock dropped as much as 11 percent last Wednesday with the financial news. CacheFlow is down again almost 9 percent in mid-day trading today.
And the Competition?
CacheFlow primarily competes with the likes of Cisco, Inktomi and Infolibria, which provide software and hardware that helps deliver content over a distributed network. Although CacheFlow is just now pushing its streaming side, Harr is still bullish about what the company is doing. "We kick their butts," said Harr, referring to Inktomi. "We're number one in the appliance based [market], although Inktomi's the first overall," he clarifies.
He also dismisses RealNetworks' recently announced (and similarly named) RealIQ system as just one piece of the content delivery puzzle. "RealIQ deals with only streaming — that's shortsighted, I would say. It's not just about streaming, it's about secure content. When you put a CDN architecture in place, you should not just be limited to one content type," he said.
CacheFlow was founded by the people who started Network Appliance — a storage and appliance company. Harr says that Network Appliance is limited because it has a closed, proprietary operating system. CacheFlow uses FreeBSD, a version of Linux, which Harr said can be modified to a company's specific needs. The problems of streaming have not completely gone away, because "not every one has adopted our technology," said Harr with a laugh.