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Netopti International

NetOpti International is an intelligent web acceleration technology that reduces international Internet bandwidth usage while increasing performance and reliability.

Why does it exist?

Most popular web sites in South Africa, even with content directed towards a South African market, have on average around 30% of hits coming from browsers abroad. There is an exponential cost difference between local and international bandwidth, often making the international component of a site's traffic more expensive than local access. This often results in sites having to limit or throttle the rate of access from browsers abroad, where South African sites are already significantly slower when accessed from countries abroad compared to sites hosted in the US, Asia or Europe. NetOpti International delivers the following benefits to sites like these: It can save from 50% to 90% of international bandwidth used, reducing costs significantly.
Who is this for?

This technology will result in savings in certain applications. Sites that will draw the most benefit out of it are the following:

On-site hosting

Certain sites cannot be run on servers located in data centres at ISP's in South Africa or abroad. This could be because of various reasons like security, control, ease of administration or the design of the site. This happens often if the web site has to interface directly with live databases on-site which can not be replicated elsewhere. Servers like these are often located on premises and connected to the Internet via a leased line. International bandwidth over leased lines is costly since it reflects the high costs ISP's has to pay for international links through Telkom.

Non mirrorable sites

The design of many sites only allows for a single primary site. Even with load balancing, all relevant web sites have to be in the same physical location. This becomes a problem when the site gets accessed from many different locations around the world and it's not possible to run multiple mirrors. Sometimes when mirroring is possible, a different address has to be entered by the user for each mirror, or a main site has to redirect a user to an appropriate mirror. These issues can result in a negative experience of the speed or browsability of the site. NetOpti's route based (split) DNS servers can make accessing mirrors completely transparent to the user.

Who will still benefit on performance?

In the following two situations NetOpti will provide performance gains, but not as much of a cost saving at the same time:

ISP hosting

Some ISP's have spare capacity for outgoing traffic over their international links. This is because they acquire an equal amount of incoming international bandwidth as outgoing international bandwidth. The majority of ISP customers download from sites overseas instead of sending data abroad, leaving spare outgoing capacity. These ISP's offer hosting in their data centres where they charge out international bandwidth at a reduced rate since they have bandwidth to spare, it is also sometimes fairly complex to be able to measure and bill each customer with a differentiation between the local and international components of their usage. In this situation NetOpti International will still save a significant amount of bandwidth and increase performance, but it will not result in a direct cost saving, except to the ISP. However, in the situation of a really busy site, the ISP can not provide outgoing bandwidth at a reduced cost, and will have to charge appropriately, this is where NetOpti International can be of benefit.

Static or self contained sites

Sites that can easily be transported off site, especially with static content that doesn't get updated often, can easily be hosted on servers abroad where the costs are significantly lower. In the case of mirroring, NetOpti can still make accessing the individual mirrors according to its location fast and completely transparent to the user. If the site still gets a lot of hits from browsers located in South Africa, NetOpti Local can increase performance for these users significantly.

How does it all work?

For sites drawing a lot of hits from browsers abroad, intelligent caching servers are distributed globally in order to serve pages to these customers faster while reducing bandwidth overheads significantly. This is achieved by the following components:

Route based DNS servers

DNS servers will automatically direct browsers to the appropriate web or cache server. If a browser requests the web site's address from within South Africa, it will be directed to the main web site, but if a request is made from abroad it will be forwarded to one of the global caching servers.

Reverse, accelerating proxy servers

Requests from web browsers abroad will be sent to these servers; in turn they will fetch data from the primary web site in South Africa as necessary. If particular data, for example large media files or images, has been accessed before, it will display a stored copy of this information to the connecting browser. This means that when several browsers from outside of South Africa are accessing the same data, only a single transfer of the data is made over the international connection, saving a significant amount of bandwidth. The server also intelligently checks if the data on the main site has been updated to ensure that the most current content is displayed.

Inter-server content compression

Many sites have large amounts of dynamic content, often generated by server side scripting like ASP. Information like this cannot be cached since it changes constantly. In order to save bandwidth on transferring data like this, compression is applied when pages are being transferred abroad.