New Network Caching Standard Proposed - 12/1998
San Mateo, Calif. - December 16, 1998. Inktomi Corp. (NASDAQ: INKT) today announced that a group of leading Internet software providers are supporting a protocol to help Internet client software automatically locate and interface with cache services in the network. Inktomi, Microsoft, RealNetworks, and Sun Microsystems collaborated to develop the Web Proxy Autodiscovery Protocol (WPAD), which is being published as an Internet Draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The WPAD protocol has already been integrated into the beta version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5, and RealNetworks expects to support the protocol in future versions of the RealSystem G2 product line.
Caching has emerged as an important element of modern data networks. Network caches deployed by Internet providers and corporations speed access to data by storing temporary copies of popular pages close to users. By moving data to the edges of the network, this distributed data architecture also saves bandwidth and insulates the network from traffic spikes caused by event-driven surfing.
The WPAD protocol, when integrated with browsers, streaming media clients, and other Internet client software, is designed to automatically locate caches and services on the network without requiring any configuration by end users. WPAD provides a flexible, vendor-neutral software alternative to existing cache transparency solutions that utilize routing or switching equipment.
WPAD-enabled client software will automatically connect users with embedded network services in their region, providing simplicity for both users and the network providers that deploy these services. As new data protocols and services emerge, the WPAD protocol provides a clear method for Internet software developers to connect client applications with the appropriate servers.
WPAD builds upon industry standard networking protocols such as DNS, DHCP, and SLP, to ensure reliability and global compatibility. At startup and during an Internet session, WPAD-enabled clients query the network to discover nearby caches and services, then connect automatically to access these services. For example, a businessperson traveling with a laptop could log onto an ISP account in several cities, and WPAD-enabled Internet client software would automatically locate the nearest services.