January 24, 2001, 1:54 PM — Start-up Akamba plans to announce a new family of products this week aimed at speeding Web servers on e-commerce networks.
The firm's MassTrans Velobahn accelerator, a PCI card that fits into any server, promises to increase the number of concurrent sessions each Web server can handle by up to four times, the company claims.
Akamba's CEO Jack Smith, who cofounded Hotmail, says Akamba's MassTrans technology will remove the connection-processing burden from servers, freeing them to process the data for requests such as database queries for stock quotes and online transactions.
John Dunkle, an analyst with Workgroup Strategic Services in Portsmouth, N.H., says Akamba's technology takes care of a common bottleneck in e-commerce networks -- HTTP session processing. As each request comes in from surfers, the Web server typically has to hold those addresses in memory while it finds the information being requested. These concurrent sessions require lots of CPU and server memory.
Using Akamba's PCI card, which has a custom Application Specific Integrated Circuit chip designed to hold sessions in memory, the server is left to process the request. The result of leaving the Web server to handle session and request processing is slower response time, which in the case of e-commerce sites can mean lost revenue.
Redwood City, Calif., market research firm Zona Research estimates that $4 billion in potential e-commerce revenue was lost in 1999 as a result of poor Web site performance.
The Velobahn accelerator has 128M bytes of memory and a Motorola processor onboard. The first release will support FreeBSD. A new release expected this quarter will support Linux and Windows 2000 servers. Akamba also plans to release a product that supports Sun Solaris on Intel and scalable processor architecture (SPARC).
The Velobahn accelerator costs $3,000.