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Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corp., a Malvern, PA-based ASP had a three-fold reason for wanting an eCDN with edge caching capabilities. The company wanted to:

  • Accelerate content delivery to its customers, and delivery of Internet and Intranet content to its employees.
  • Implement a video streaming solution for customer demonstrations at its executive briefing center in Malvern.
  • Provide the foundation and scalability for enhanced corporate communications and e-learning at the desktop.
The company opted for a system from Cisco, which also provides routers on its network. "If you have a common vendor, there's obviously no finger-pointing that can go on if there is a problem," says Dot Powers, Siemens advisory analyst. "It's a one-stop shop."

With its $50,000 to $80,000 edge investment that includes content caching with Cisco Content Engines, Siemens saved 50% on server size, cut content distribution costs, boosted network performance and added redundancies, says Powers.

An eCDN with edge caching was a no-brainer for Merrill Lynch Canada. The financial services giant needed a cost-effective way to distribute huge research reports to its more than 100 dispersed offices. Traditionally, that meant replicating huge data files to storage devices in the remote offices, a labor-intensive task. Often the updates would have to be sent via overnight mail because some offices were not Web-enabled, or if they were, there were

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bandwidth issues with real-time data transfer, says Amit Pandey, senior director of NetCache for Network Appliance. Some offices could only connect to the WAN at 128Kb/s, and though the existing proxy server could do some Web caching, it couldn't handle streaming media.

Now with its eCDN, to reduce network traffic on the WAN, Network Appliance's C1100 NetCache appliances are installed in each remote office. Larger C720 appliances are in the Toronto data centers to load balance network traffic, cache Internet content inside the corporate firewall and act as parent caches to the C1100s. With the NetCache, the company can deliver all major streaming formats. Content also can be prepositioned before users request it, allowing files to be sent over the WAN at night to keep the network free during the day.

eCDNs, however, aren't the answer for everyone and there can be issues with their implementation. Installing an eCDN--especially at large, distributed companies--takes a huge effort, including planning, rollout and ongoing management. In addition, many enterprises today also view the applications that caching enables--Internet acceleration, streaming media-based corporate communications and e-learning applications as nice to have, but not mission critical must-haves, says Lawrence Orans, Gartner analyst.

There's no need to convince Logitech's Monnier of the value of an eCDN. Says Monnier: "It was one of the best investments that we have made ... the one that made the biggest difference for an enterprise user."

This was first published in March 2003

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