Newcomer handles fed Web content

Three government agencies, all trying to disseminate massive amounts of information via the World Wide Web, recently chose a newcomer to the federal space for a solution.

The Census Bureau, the Government Printing Office and Voice of America selected Akamai Technologies Inc. for their Web infrastructure needs.

Instead of offering a product, Akamai offers Internet content delivery services through its network of more than 9,700 servers in 56 countries, which limits Web congestion and bottlenecks, said Chris Carlston, Akamai's federal sales manager.

"The traditional model was to throw a lot of hardware and bandwidth at the problem," he said. "Very simply...we're outsourcing content delivery in a very broad fashion."

Akamai formally launched its federally focused group in January. Its portfolio includes:

EdgeSuite, for an entire Web site. FreeFlow, which speeds Web page download times by two to 10 times by diminishing traffic to the original server. FreeFlow Streaming services, for live Webcasts, streaming media on demand and a variety of streaming application services.

Voice of America is Akamai's longest-standing federal customer, having used several of the company's services, including FreeFlow Streaming, for the past 18 months. VOA uses the Internet to deliver nearly 200 hours of content per day in live and on-demand audio and video broadcasts of news in 53 languages, said Tish King, VOA's chief of media relations.

"We also use the Internet to deliver broadcast-quality programs to affiliates in other countries, which they download and re-broadcast," King said. "It's low-cost delivery for us," and Akamai's tools help make that happen.

Census chose EdgeSuite to deal with an increase in traffic to its Web site. The tool reduced the hits on the Census server by 70 percent, said David Raszewski, senior Internet technology architect at Census.

The GPO develops and manages many Web sites for other agencies, including the Supreme Court. The agency began using FreeFlow in March to help the court deal with the demands of high volumes of traffic stemming from the Florida election saga, Akamai's Carlston said.

Akamai solutions range in price up to more than five figures per month, and configurations can vary widely based on selected services, storage requirements, usage and network coverage, Carlston said. The federal sales division should be announcing some additional government wins in the next 60 days, he said.

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