Instart Logic Launches New CDN To Focus On Delivering Web Applications Over Mobile Networks

instartlogicThere are a lot of different types of content delivery services in the market, pushing content over various types of networks and across many different devices. While the market is crowded with CDN vendors focusing on the delivery of video, fewer solutions exist in the market for delivering web applications, especially over wireless networks. This morning, a new CDN named Instart Logic launched in the market looking to solve the problem of delivering web applications, with good performance, over mobile networks.

For many of you tracking the web performance world closely, you know it’s been some time since we have seen any really new innovative technology come along. Most of the “new” offerings have generally been improvements to existing established technologies such as content and application delivery networks (caching and network acceleration) or front-end-optimization (rewriting web code to implement performance best practices).

Instart Logic has released a new type of web performance service promising to speed up delivery of websites beyond what traditional approaches like a CDN or FEO solution can provide. The team behind Instart Logic comes from a diverse set of backgrounds including Big Data (Aster Data), virtualization (XenSource, VMWare) and, logically, the web performance world (Netli, Cotendo, Akamai). The original founding engineering team actually had no direct experience with the web performance world and as a result took a fresh look, and built a very different way to deliver web sites to browsers. (the company has a white paper with lots of tech details here)

The team was looking to specifically address new challenges with delivering visually rich and personalized web sites and apps to users accessing them on congested wireless networks. The approach moves beyond operating at a network level like traditional CDN/ADN approaches (caching and network acceleration) to working at the application level. They claim the product was built by thinking “mobile-first” and designed with the mobile world in mind from the start, not as an afterthought. Because of this approach, Instart Logic says their new system is able to provide much higher levels of performance by having a detailed understanding of the component parts of web sites and applications and how they load in modern web browsers. It works by sending a smaller amount of data up front to a browser to get the web page loaded and then bringing the other data down in the background.

The key to pulling this off is a new type of web delivery architecture that includes an active client side component that runs in the end user’s browser, along with a cloud service that has a detailed understanding of how web sites and applications actually load and execute in modern browsers.

On the client side it uses a thin JavaScript based virtualization layer they call the “HTML5 NanoVisor” that is added to a web site or application automatically by the service. Using this client, the Instart Logic system can learn how a web site or application loads and executes in different browsers. The NanoVisor then works with a cloud service they call the “Personalized AppSequencer” which has a detailed understanding of the component parts of a web application. For example, it understands how visual information is encoded in image formats like JPG and PNG and how to divide up those files into smaller fragments for streaming at different points in the page load process. It can also determine which parts of dynamically-generated HTML are actually the same across a broad set of users and send it up front to a browser while the dynamic portions are created on the backend.

Once the service determines the minimal set of data to allow a web page to display and become interactive, it uses the NanoVisor to allow streaming of this information to standard web browsers. After the initial display the NanoVisor then brings down the rest of the data that makes up the page and stitches everything together in the end user’s browser. By doing this, it allows for fast initial display and interactivity, while still being able to provide the full quality experience as designed by the web publisher a few moments later.

Web publishers can quickly integrate with the system by updating a few DNS entries to flow all or a portion of their traffic through the service. It is designed to replace the use of a CDN and as a result the company has set up a global footprint of 30 delivery locations worldwide and they have a similar technology to dynamic site acceleration they call Global Network Acceleration.

Instart Logic’s system is an intriguing new entry into the web performance and delivery space. When they demoed the product for me, it was easy to see noticeable differences in Web page load performance, particularly for pages with lots of scrolling image tiles and graphics-rich HTML5 games. They have been running customers with production traffic since last summer and have been winning over converts from some of the traditional CDN vendors. The new service looks promising and most of the recent vendors that have come to the market with focused solutions, looking to solve a specific problem, have tended to do well. Strangeloop Networks, Blaze, Cotendo and others have all been acquired in a short period of time – mostly due to their focus and lack of desire to be a all-encompassing CDN.

Of course any new service like Instart Logic’s has to be validated by customers, at scale, while still improving performance, so it will be some time before we know just how scalable their solution is and how well the company can do. But they are a promising new entry into the market and one I will be keeping an eye on.

Instart Logic is funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and several notable Silicon Valley angel investors and received $17M in Series B funding in April.