Compaq signs with Digital Island, but looks beyond

Digital Island muscled Akamai Technologies out of the competition for Compaq Computer's content distribution contract, a big feat for the San Francisco Web hoster and content distribution network operator.

Digital Island muscled Akamai Technologies out of the competition for Compaq Computer's content distribution contract, a big feat for the San Francisco Web hoster and content distribution network operator.

While Compaq is an investor in Digital Island, this contract has been won "fair and square," said Tim Wilson, DI's vice president of marketing. The contract's value was not announced.

Compaq, which hosts its own Web site, puts great importance on the speed of its Web site performance internationally. The company hoped that a better performing Web site would enhance sales over the Internet, and pave the way for more interactive services in the future.

"If you go to our Direct Plus or At Home site, where you can buy products, there is content there that is served locally, from our headquarters - take those graphics and images and move those out, and the rendering experience of those pages is much faster," said Vercia Lark, director of networking services at Compaq.

Compaq had been evaluating Akamai, Digital Island and Sandpiper Networks while searching for a content distribution network, and ended up picking Digital Island because of its close-to-Akamai performance and an existing close relationship with the company, Lark said. Digital Island bought Sandpiper during the evaluation period. While migration of Compaq content onto the Digital Island network has not been completed yet, the site already performs 30 percent faster, Lark said.

Digital Island celebrated the deal as a big feat.

"We are proud to have demonstrated the value of our Footprint content delivery services, our mirroring technologies, hosting and network technologies in a major way to a large customer," Wilson said.

Digital Island not only pushed images and graphics out to the edge via Footprint, according to Wilson, but also replicated Compaq's site in Taiwan, Australia and Sweden. Digital Island also mirrors the site's content to 20 locations for Compaq partners in Thailand and Finland; and helps Compaq out with its intranet through its London data center.

While both Wilson and Compaq's Lark refused to discuss the specifics of the contract, it doesn't appear to be exclusive. Lark indicated Compaq will "do another look" in 2001 for content distribution service providers, and might add another carrier if it finds services or geographic presence that Digital Island can't provide with other companies .

Compaq execs hope they won't have to manage a multi-vendor relationship because of Digital Island's participation in the Content Bridge and Content Alliance. The hope is that partners in one of these organizations would cover up gaps in coverage that Digital Island might have. However, there is no assurance that Content Bridge or Content Alliance would deliver on that promise when Compaq begins to look beyond Digital Island.

"You never know with these alliances," Lark said.

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