Case Study: Hitting a High Note



Speedy web response, uninterrupted content delivery and reliable
connectivity-these are the defining parameters of a robust service provider.
Rediff.com, India’s premier online provider of news, entertainment and
shopping services had the same objectives in mind while building its network
infrastructure.

Redundant, scalable and efficient Internet access is a key
component for all companies today. These connections must be secured, flexible
and scalable. And the best way to achieve these business objectives is by using
content delivery solutions.

The Challenge
In exploring new business models and increasing value-added functionality to
a network, content management is crucial for Rediff to efficiently deliver
information to the end user and optimize bandwidth consumption. Venki Nishtala,
CTO, Rediff.com explains, "The problem faced as an ISP is the tendency of
not being well connected due to peering issues. This is an ongoing problem. So
one of the priorities while setting up our infrastructure was to adopt a content
delivery network to overcome peering issue as well as to cache content and
deliver it to the right place with speed." Web hosting, co-location,
caching and streaming are ways to improve the end-user’s Internet experiences
and so increase customer retention for the content owner.

How Akamai’s content
delivery network works

The three key parameters that Rediff wanted to address using a
CDN were: global delivery at lightening speed; high performance of website at
all times; and ability to handle event-driven traffic spikes without expanding
its Web infrastructure.

At the same time, Rediff needed to manage upstream bandwidth to
strike a delicate balance between customer satisfaction and cost. It had to
invest heavily in its own network infrastructure-load balancing for nonstop
delivery, caching for speedy Web response, distributed, replicated servers to
limit the impact of Internet congestion.

Rediff partnered with a Content Delivery Network provider,
Akamai, to address every aspect of their business requirements. The Akamai Media
Delivery (AMD) solution provides streaming, download delivery, http content
delivery, and secure content delivery.

Solution in Sight
Simply put, the CDN delivered by Akamai consists of a dedicated network of
servers, deployed throughout the Internet, that Rediff uses to distribute their
content on a subscription basis. The CDN essentially served as an overlay
network of customer content, distributed geographically to enable rapid,
reliable retrieval from any end-user location. Web hosting, co-location, caching
and streaming are ways to improve the end-user’s Internet experiences and so
increase customer retention for the content owner.

The CDN uses infrastructure technologies like caching to push
replicated content close to the network edge. As a result, the stored content is
kept current and protected against unauthorized modification. It has the ability
to globally balance the load and ensure that users are transparently routed to
the "best" content source. In addition, the customer-accessible
traffic logs enable data mining for marketing and capacity planning.

"To serve the customer from the nearest point on the
Internet, Akamai was a natural choice with a globally deployed network of
20,000+ servers spanning over 1,000 networks," explains Venki. With a
registered user base of over 45 mn, Rediff serves 4 mn visitors everyday, most
of them coming from India and USA. According to the company, more than 97% of
Rediff content is served through Akamai servers and made available to global
visitors. "While Akamai takes care of Rediff’s Web infrastructure
requirements, Rediff concentrates on development of core services,"
continues Venki.

Visible Advantages
"Akamai allows Rediff to provide a satisfying customer experience with
lightning fast download of Rediff’s homepage while simultaneously offloading
the traffic from Rediff’s core servers," says Venki. Akamai’s services
have reduced Rediff’s infrastructure overhead drastically leading to
substantial savings on infrastructure costs and reduced management and capital
overhead. It has also resulted in increasing the number of advertisers for
Rediff.com

"We are also using Akamai’s global servers that has
dramatically reduced Rediff’s infrastructure overhead, leading to substantial
savings on infrastructure costs and reduced management and capital
overhead," adds Venki.

Satisfied with the results, Rediff partnered with Akamai in 2005
to launch India’s first online music portal. Rediff’s e-Commerce Payment
Gateway seamlessly integrated with Akamai’s secure delivery and download
service, making Rediff.com India’s first online music retailer. The CDN
provides Rediff the tool to manage, secure, control and report media file usage
and ensure that only authorized users are accessing files. "This will let
music companies, video content owners and artists tap the potential of the Web
to bring content directly to consumers, and protect against piracy and revenue
losses." Adds Jasmeet Singh, VP Strategic Alliances.

In 2006, Rediff added Akamai’s Content Targeting service to
its portfolio to provide a personalized experience to its visitors. Content
Targeting uses details of a user location to enable Rediff to deliver content
based on the geographical location of the end user.

The Akamai-Rediff relationship continues to grow with Akamai now
helping to offload application infrastructure using technologies such as Edge
Side Includes (ESI); a standard simple markup language used to define Web page
components for dynamic assembly and delivery of Web applications at the edge of
the Internet.

Malovika Rao

malovkar@cybermedia.co.in

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