New Caching and Proxy Technologies on the Horizon

Knowing that I follow proxy and caching technologies, a friend emailed a site to me that discussed the Internet Content Adaptation Protocol (iCAP). This protocol is being promoted by the iCAP Forum, a group with an impressive collection of Internet technology participants, such as Allaire Corporation, CacheFlow, Cobalt Networks, DoubleClick, Akamai Technologies, Network Appliance, Novell, Websense, and Trend Micro. Forum members have pulled together to develop iCAP and push it to Request for Comments (RFC) status. The content on the site is still a bit dated, but some of the Forum's presentations are worth going through if you want to keep up on caching technology. The group builds its technology into the HTML header, which interfaces with an iCAP client (e.g., a proxy server) and an iCAP server (e.g., offline processing). The goal is to process content offline for the user and provide services, such as virus scanning and content filtering, to an enterprise. The group promises no changes to the browser, only to the content headers (which makes this issue a Web server administrator one). For more information, visit the iCAP Forum's Web site.

At the risk of alienating hardened Microsoft supporters, I suggest that if you haven't been following Novell lately, you at least look at where the company is spending its R&D time (you guessed it: caching). Novell, with Compaq, has developed a series of Web-caching servers called TaskSmart servers, which run on a proprietary Novell box, and caching technology called the Internet Caching System (ICS). At the time of publication, the ICS link on Novell's main Web page repeatedly bombed after displaying only the Novell logo. However, you can find information about these servers on the Compaq web site.

While I'm on the topic of caching, what a great time to talk about Microsoft's new Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server. ISA is the new Proxy Server. ISA Server's caching capabilities are amazing. Beta 3 sports all sorts of functions that will impress current Proxy Server administrators—cool features such as an improved port redirection wizard that lets you perform port address translation. Full firewall capabilities (although the firewall handles only an inside, outside, and DMZ interface) let you create real packet filters, protecting your enterprise. ISA Server includes many predefined ports, and you can always create your own port definitions.

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