Delivering Web sites swiftly

Several startups are looking to improve Web site performance through faster content and caching delivery.One of the latest in the field is Mirror Image Inc.

Several startups are looking to improve Web site performance through faster content and caching delivery.

One of the latest in the field is Mirror Image Inc., a Woburn, Mass., company that bills itself as a content/caching delivery service with a twist. Mirror Image owns a network of points of presence that creates another layer over the Web.

Using internally developed software, Mirror Image keeps general content delivery and caching content delivery closer to local servers and, therefore, closer to Web site customers.

Network nodes running Oracle Corp.'s Oracle8i database as a component of Mirror Image's service are operating in each of the following cities: Washington; St. Louis; Frankfurt, Germany; and London. The company has plans for expansion next year.

Mirror Image joins the growing list of vendors in the content delivery space using similar models, including Exodus Communications Inc., Akamai Technologies Inc., Sandpiper Networks Inc. and WebSpective Software Inc.

With Mirror Image's caching capabilities, however, the company sells its service directly to ISPs (Internet service providers) and caching companies, not to businesses interested in e-commerce, said Alexander Vik, the company's chairman and CEO.

Mirror Image promises content delivery that is two to 10 times faster than current methods as well as better load balancing. In addition, customers don't need to add to their infrastructures, andthe company's system is scalable. The cost ranges from $10 to $25 per gigabyte for ISPs.

The growth of the content delivery market is not surprising, considering the e-commerce boom. Market researcher International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., estimates that e-commerce will grow from $2.9 billion last year to $22.1 billion by 2002.

Helping to fuel that growth is the delivery of dynamic content. However, a slowdown in performance can discourage customers, leading to revenue loss for pure e-commerce companies. IT managers at these companies know that customers can easily switch to a competitor if access slows or fails. The same is true for ISPs.

One Mirror Image customer, an ISP called Rocket Networks Inc., in Washington, hooked into the Mirror Image caching system about six months ago.

Matt Chambers, Rocket Networks' network manager, said he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of concurrent users. In addition, with Mirror Image providing cached content, the service saves on the ISP's bandwidth, Chambers said.

"It's been great for our customers. They stay longer. If they switch to another ISP, a lot of times they switch back" because they're used to faster performance on Rocket Networks, he said.

Mirror Image started selling its service in May and said it has 40 ISPs and content providers as customers—with another 40 on the way.

Mirror Image, which is owned by The Scandinavia Co. Inc., can be reached at (781) 939-0664 or

Mirror, mirror

Mirror Image guarantees faster content delivery (by as much as 10 times) by selling its product and service directly to ISPs and content providers:

  • Mirror Image network nodes, located in Washington; St. Louis; Frankfurt, Germany; and London, running on Oracle's Oracle8i database
  • No need for ISPs to add servers or software to their infrastructure
  • Nodes deliver faster caching by keeping static content closer to ISPs and therefore end users
  • 40 ISPs already signed on