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ICDNs: Delivery into the enterprise

Back when streaming video first started catching on, many companies were compelled to try streaming over their corporate networks. But IT managers feared that streaming would clog the pipes, slowing the passage of mission-critical data. Stream-enabling a network quickly became a priority.

In 1998, Digital Pipe co-founders Chris Wallace and Fabrizio Ornani decided to answer the call by focusing exclusively on streaming media for corporate use. They coined the term iCDN (intranet content delivery network) and established a site (iCDN.org) to address the intricacies of enterprise streaming. As an outsourcing provider (what amounts to a reseller), Digital Pipe installs, maintains and manages its clients' streaming networks.

In effect, Digital Pipe aims to take the complexity out of streaming. While traditional CDNs stream from the "outside-in," the company says it works from the "inside-out," taking advantage of the broadband networks already installed inside corporations to deliver TV-quality video for training, corporate communications and more.

CacheFlow, a provider of hardware and software "turnkey" intranet streaming solutions, has a similar focus. "The majority of the content lies in the enterprise, and we can help companies take advantage of that," says Patrick Harr, vice president of marketing at CacheFlow.

Harr emphasizes the necessity of bolstering a network for streaming purposes. "If you stream over a current Cisco network, it will break. It can't handle it," he says. "Cisco is very smart about routing packets but dumb about content. We're content experts — we focus on intelligently moving content from point A to point B for the best user experience possible."

However, Harr brushes off the importance of companies that offer complete enterprise CDN service solutions, saying such outsourcing leaves too many issues of control and security. "Large companies don't want to choose to outsource everything," he says. "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's."

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