Case Study: Netli's NetLightning

By Patricia Fusco | Posted October 10, 2003

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Netli is a high-tech David among Goliaths. The small business, which consists of about 40 full-time employees, provides a speedy resolution to a big business problem — slow Web application response times.

The Internet is a remarkable network, but the further a user is away from a specific server, the slower the access to the application. It's simple physics — Web application response time slows as the distance between an end user and the data center increases.

What is Netli's solution?

A little NetLightning.

NetLightning resolves performance degradation created by Internet latency and congestion. The service is ideal for organizations that want to achieve sub-second response times and secure access to their Web applications worldwide with no server or client changes, and no capital expenditures. Big businesses such as HP and Nielsen//NetRatings are using NetLightning to increase revenue, decrease support costs, and improve end user satisfaction.

NetLightning is Netli's first Application Delivery Network (ADN) service offering. The service supports HTTP and secure HTTPS applications. It is completely managed by Netli, so subscribing to the service is a low-risk expenditure for clients.

NetLightning is built on Netli's patent-pending Reliable Application Platform for Instant Delivery (RAPID) service architecture. It is ideal for companies that conduct business on a global scale and need to extend mission-critical Web applications worldwide — without additional infrastructure build outs.

JoHn Peters, Netli chief executive officer, explained how NetLightning optimizes long-distance IP connections.

"We focus on reducing the number of back and forth trips IP traffic takes," Peters said. "By reducing the number of round trips required for data transfers, we achieve global sub-second response times for geographically dispersed users from a client's centralized data center."

There are other solutions that speed up the Net, such as those provided by Akamai and Speedera. But these technologies focus on improving cache systems to speed up content delivery. Netli's Peters explained the difference between application and content delivery networks.

"Content delivery networks focus on optimizing the delivery of frequently accessed content," Peters said. "Application delivery networks focus on optimizing specific applications. The key difference being that NetLightning doesn't force our clients to make changes to their server, client or content management infrastructure."

However, NetLightning does require that clients delegate domain name service (DNS) in order to speed up network response times. According to Peters, that's a small price to pay.

"Overall, the Internet is performing quite well today —, capacity has caught up with demand," Peters said. "But delays increase with network congestion. The 6- to 8-second delays in response times between a server in Atlanta and a user in Tokyo doesn't do a lot to keep customers happy. At least, that's the problem we fixed for HP"

HP operates a Developer portal that supports a global network of programmers. The DSPP portal is a centralized system that provides documentation, advance access to code and patches, and provides a community forum for HP developers. Naturally, it's important to HP that developers in Asia and Europe have fast access to the infrastructure that is hosted in Atlanta. After tapping into Netli's NetLightning, HP increased usage and reach of the DSPP portal. Consequently, end user productivity increased on a global scale.

After subscribing to Netli's NetLightning service in April, Tony Hinojosa, Portal Development Manager of the Enterprise Solutions Partners Division's DSPP Web site at HP, said the service has given HP the outstanding performance it required.

"Since we subscribed to NetLightning, our DSPP site has been averaging more than two million additional hits per month," Hinojosa said. "Our worldwide partners can now access information in less than a second, making them happier and more productive."

Netli's Peters said global portals, e-commerce applications, customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management systems (SCM), as well as information services, IT-centric organizations, and even application service providers (ASP) could benefit from subscribing to NetLightning.

Michael Hoch, research director for Internet infrastructure at Aberdeen Group, said key benefits of NetLightning include standardized worldwide access times to centralized Web- applications and reduced IT costs.

"With a focus on dynamic Web applications and fast, transparent deployment of its service, Netli has clearly differentiated itself from traditional Content Delivery Networks," Hoch said. "Netli is positioning itself to be a standard purchase for any enterprise looking to provide fast global access times for Web applications, content or files that are dynamically generated or infrequently accessed from a central data center."

NetLightning pricing is based on the number of applications and regions being served. On average, monthly subscription fees are between $5,000 and $7,000. Peter's said that for global corporations, it's a small price to pay for improving customer satisfaction.

"Global organizations are looking to centralize critical applications and infrastructure but not at the expense of performance," Peters said. "NetLightning delivers Web application performance while reducing capital expenditures and IT management costs, without the pain of restructuring complex applications."

So far, no one else is doing what Netli's NetLightning does, or at least not the way Netli does it. Nowadays, it's difficult for high-tech startups to pick up the operating capital required to provide such advanced network services. However, Netli is just like many other small businesses. It took something that was good, made it better, and sold it as a service. It's the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation that is driving this small business to the top — proving once again that the size of a company doesn't matter, as long as it builds a better mousetrap. For Netli, it's all about building a better Internet.

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