April 25, 2001, 2:33 PM — Qwest Communications enhanced its Web hosting offerings last week by introducing managed content delivery services that counter recent moves by Akamai, a leading content delivery network provider.
Qwest's Intelligent Content Environment services are designed to help companies more effectively deliver content within enterprise networks and beyond. By offering managed services, Qwest's aim is to help customers keep capital expenditures down and off-load management chores.
Qwest's services, based on the carrier's IP backbone and an assortment of content-aware routers and switches from Cisco, are rolling out more than a year after Akamai and others pioneered the content delivery market. But Qwest will try to differentiate itself by offering a bundle of Web hosting and managed content delivery services.
The new services, which will be supported by a core of eight large data centers, are largely aimed at preventing Qwest Web hosting customers from giving more money to Akamai, says IDC analyst Melanie Posey.
"Akamai would be taking money out of Qwest's pocket," Posey says.
Akamai's EdgeSuite services, introduced last year, let firms serve dynamic and static content over Akamai's network. Prior to the introduction of EdgeSuite, Akamai's net could handle only static content -- dynamic content was handled by Web hosting firms.
Qwest's content delivery network may not reach all the locations covered by Akamai's, which spans 9,700 servers across 56 countries. But Qwest officials say it should reach most areas where a customer would want to serve content.
"You have to question whether the extra cost of having a server collocated with every Tier-3 service provider in the country is justified by the small audience those Tier-3 providers add," says Rod Nayfield, director of IP innovations at Qwest.
Qwest Content Switching, a load-balancing service, is available to Qwest Web hosting customers. Pricing will vary depending on volume, but will be below $1,400 per content switch per month.
Qwest Internet CDN, for distributing static and dynamic content, will be available June 1. Prices will depend on the amount of data transferred, and will be under $1,200 per megabit/sec.
Qwest Enterprise CDN, slated for availability in the third quarter, will use dedicated distribution points within a client's enterprise network to serve static and dynamic content. Pricing has not been set.