Instart Logic launches a new kind of acceleration service

There have been three core techniques for accelerating content and application delivery over the Internet — caching (“classic” CDN), network optimization (think protocol tricks, like F5 Web Application Accelerator on the hardware side, or Akamai DSA on the service side), and front-end optimization (FEO, think content re-write, like Aptimize/Riverbed or Strangeloop/Radware on the software side, or Blaze.io/Akamai or Acceloweb/Limelight on the service side).

Now, with the launch of Instart Logic, there’s a fourth technique, that I don’t yet have a name for. In spirit, it’s probably most similar to a SoftWOC, but in this case, the client endpoint is the browser, and the symmetric remote endpoint is the CDN server. The techniques are also different from typical SoftWOC techniques, as far as I know.

From the perspective of an Instart Logic customer, they’re getting a dynamic acceleration service that, from a deployment perspective, is much like a CDN. For most customers, it would entirely replace using a traditional CDN (rather than being additive) — i.e., they would buy this instead of buying Akamai DSA or a similar service. Note that this is a performance play, not a price play — Instart Logic expects that they’ll be in the ballpark of typical dynamic acceleration pricing, and that performance carries a market premium.

The techniques used in the service are intended to dramatically improve load times, especially on congested networks; this is particularly useful in mobile, but it is not mobile-specific. As with FEO, the goal is to allow the end-user to quickly see and interact with the content while the remainder of the page is still downloading.

On the client side, there’s what they call a “NanoVisor” — an HTML5-based thin virtualization layer that runs in the browser. If Instart Logic is full-proxying the customer’s site, the NanoVisor code can simply be injected; otherwise the customer can insert the code into their site. It requires no other changes to the customer’s site. The NanoVisor provides intelligence about the end-user and serves as the client endpoint for the optimization.

On the server side, the “AppSequencer” analyzes page content, and it fragments and orders objects that are then streamed to the NanoVisor. It does large-scale analysis of usage patterns, and it predictively sends things based on the responses that it’s seen before. There’s compression and network optimization techniques, as well as implicit caching.

Like other recent innovators in the CDN space, Instart Logic is predominantly a software company. Whlie they do have servers of their own, they are also using a variety of cloud IaaS providers for capacity. They’re also using Dyn for DNS.

Instart Logic has raised a significant amount of money, almost purely from top-tier VCs — $26 million to date. I think their technology is very promising, which probably means they’ll get a bit of time to prove themselves out and then they’ll get bought by one of the CDNs looking to get an edge on the competition, or maybe even an ADC or WOC vendor.

Instart Logic’s demos are impressive, and they’ve got paying customers at this point, although obviously they’re newly-launched. While it always takes time to build trust in this industry, at this point they’re worth checking out, and I’ve been referring Gartner clients to them ever since I was briefed by them while they were still in stealth mode, a few months back. They’re potentially an excellent fit for customers who are looking for something beyond what DSA-style network optimization offerings can do, but either do not want to do FEO, have reached the limits of what FEO can offer them, or simply want to explore alternatives.

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Posted on June 17, 2013, in Infrastructure and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. The basic technology idea here isn’t new as WAN Acceleration vendors have been delivering client side acceleration for 5 or more years with limited success.

    Developing a WAN Acceleration client in side a HTML 5 browser is a fresh take on the bandwidth problem but I can’t see any reason to believe that this version would be anything but a point solution that has limited commercial value. I would judge that more bandwidth is cheaper and more reliable than the costs of fiddling around with software & a platform.

    Thats why WAN Acceleration is a niche market, it’s not worth the cost for the benefit expecting niche use cases.

  2. Indeed, I noted that the approach is similar to a SoftWOC (client-side WAN optimization) — what you term WAN acceleration. SoftWOC vendors have mostly been acquired by the regular WOC vendors by this point in the market.

    While in some cases, the issue is bandwidth, that’s not typically the case — what drives customers towards these solutions is *latency*.

    I agree that the acceleration market is relatively niche-y, compared to the enterprise WAN equipment market or the network services market, but it’s big enough for a few companies to make a comfortable living at.

  3. It looks like the added-value of the instart logic product is the combinaison of predictive capability and dynamic custom client/server capability of HTML5.

    Step by step, there is a convergence with analog technologies used for remote/dedulplicated desktop used like in the latest citrix/vmware products.

  4. Althought you may think this is very different, issues remains the same and technics inspiration are similar:

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