My most recent stop on my Grand Tour of Utah's High Tech Community was a visit to Move Networks. I had the opportunity to talk to Greg Smith, their CTO, last week. I really enjoyed the visit. After we found out we were both private pilots, we stopped talking about technology and started talking planes. :-) Before that, however, we talked enough for me to understand what they do.
Move Networks is a Drew Major (one of the Novell founders) project that is founded on the premise that TCP/IP and, consequently, the Internet and HTTP are optimized for small file transfers. He showed me a graph of a research study that showed that as file sizes get large (109 bytes) failure rates increase to 100%. The knee of the curve is somewhere around 50Mb. Drew made the fundamental observation that large file transfer is latency insensitive. Thus, it pays to spend some time up front setting up the connection. The basic idea is to split the transfer up and then optimize the transfer of the pieces from dozens or even hundreds of stores at various locations on the Internet. They even re-optimize the file transfer in during transport.
Because the system breaks up the transfer among many hosts and then reassembles the file on the client, it requires client side software. Move Networks has a zero install solution to make it relatively transparent. For corporate networks, they have an installed client that supports push. So, for example, you could push training videos down to employee machines in the evening when the network isn't used much for delivery the next day.
Listening to him reminded me of the information additive codecs. Move Networks isn't using them, or peer technology, yet, but they seem like a great match to what Move is doing. I don't know how Move deals with lost packets, for example, but information additive codecs allow recovery even in the presence of random faults.