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Briefing: Pivia

Pivia Performance Suite 4.0
$50,000
Pivia
Cupertino, California
(408) 517-3333
www.pivia.com

Pivia calls their product a "Web application delivery & optimization" package. In simple terms, that means that their software speeds up the delivery of your Web application bits to the browser. I spent a long time this week chatting with some of the Pivia folks, and here's what they tell me about it.

Pivia uses a whole raft of techniques to speed up page delivery. This includes caching static objects, compressing the HTTP stream, offloading SSL functionality, and opening multiple connections so that more of the page can be downloaded in parallel than a browser would normally do. It's important to realize that no browser changes, plug-ins, or ActiveX controls are required for any of these techniques; they just work. If a browser would render your site before Pivia, it will do exactly the same with Pivia installed.

What won't be the same is speed or load. With Pivia caching things, delivery times of complex sites can be sliced considerably; some portal pages might go from 60 seconds to 10. Better yet, all of the magic is happening on the Pivia box (which is just commodity PC hardware running their software) so that your actual Web server doesn't have to be sized to handle the maximum load. Instead, it needs to be sized to hand off unique bits to Pivia and let the Pivia infrastructure take it from there.

All of the basic techniques require no developer intervention, but there's another level of performance improvement that Pivia calls "Application Smart". Using Application Smart technologies, your Web application can let Pivia know when dynamic content has been invalidated and needs to be recached (similar to the way that ASP.NET parameter-based caching works, but much more sweeping). With application smart caching, a database operation or an HTTP event can invalidate a cache. As long as an object is valid, Pivia will serve it without bothering the generating application.

There are other bits to the Pivia solution as well; in particular, they have a remote office server that can help eliminate bottlenecks on a WAN, which looks very attractive for distributed organizations. You'll find plenty more information on their Web site, and they've got an impressive list of clients who've found this software to be of use.

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