> "One of the great things about this technology is that no one has to
> adopt a single standard," said George Favaloro, director of strategy
And the nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose
------------------------- 8< ---------------------------------------
April 7, 1997 6:00 PM ET
Compaq delivers fast Web access
By Robert Lemos
HOUSTON--Tackling the problems of slow Web access and networks
overloaded with transmitting graphics data, Compaq Computer Corp.
demonstrated a compression solution today at Innovate Forum '97 here
that speeds Web access by two to four times for the typical user.
The solution, called the Compaq Acceleration Server Technology, promises
an average performance increase of 300 percent for graphics-intensive
Internet sessions using modem connections. For the user, using the
technology is simple: Add a plug-in to the client-side browser and point
to a proxy server using the new compression technology. For the
corporation or ISP (Internet service provider), the solution is a bit
more expensive: The planned proxy server will be a Proliant 5000 with
dedicated compression hardware, which promises to bring the total
processing power to the level of a small supercomputer. The Accelerated
server and plug-ins are scheduled for release this summer.
However, most companies will not need to buy their own server. Because
an Accelerated server will act as a proxy, any Accelerated server
connected to the Internet can be used. Compaq will initially provide a
proxy for demonstration purposes, but the Houston-based company expects
Internet service providers to buy their servers with the technology. "We
are highly focused on providing complete solutions," said John Rose,
Compaq's senior vice president of enterprise computing. "That means
However, Compaq also intends to convince large companies of the benefits
of having the technology in-house, citing Compaq Accelerated Server
Technology's potential to reduce traffic on the network by 2-to-4 times.
Currently, the Houston company holds third place--behind Sun
Microsystems Inc. and Digital Equipment Corp.--in brand-name
Internet-related server business.
The Acceleration Server Technology was jointly developed by Compaq and
Integrated Computing Engines Inc., of Waltham, Mass., and initially will
be offered only as a complete solution with a Compaq server. The
technology uses wavelet compression, a form of asymmetric data
compression that uses a highly computation-intensive encoding--the
reason behind the expensive server side hardware. However, decoding is
fast and simple, enabling any computer running the plug-in to expand the
compressed file. The resulting files are 2-to-4 times smaller, with
transmission speeds that much faster.
"One of the great things about this technology is that no one has to
adopt a single standard," said George Favaloro, director of strategy and
business development for Compaq's Internet Solutions Division.
A minor drawback of wavelet compression is that, like JPEG, GIF and most
graphical compression models, it is lossy compression--a file that is
compressed and then decompressed will lose some data in the process, and
will not exactly match the end result. This means the compression is
useless for text files and other situations where the result must be an
exact copy. How much the speed increases is thus directly related to the
number of graphical images on the Web page being downloaded.
Compaq is working with ICE to produce compression algorithms for other
kinds of data, including streamed data. "Audio streaming compression is
a separate issue and will be later down the road," said Compaq's
This new technology emphasizes Compaq's new strategy of not only
providing the hardware at the end of the network, but also much of the
hardware and technology in between. Building on a partnership with
NetCentric Corp., Compaq is attempting to standardize a way of enabling
ISPs to charge for Internet services on a per-packet basis. This Metered
Services Information Exchange, or MSIX, technology has the potential to
turn ISPs into digital service utilities that charge by volume of
service, rather than time, and will make a host of new services
Although Microsoft does not support COM on other operating systems, this
void has been filled by third parties... COM's increasingly central
role in software developed for Windows and Windows NT, coupled with the
ubiquity of these systems, suggests that this new approach to creating
software will work its way into all parts of the enterprise.
-- David Chappell, _Understanding ActiveX and OLE, Microsoft Press, 1996