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Interviews With Mobile Computing Vendors
- BlueKite -

Interview with BlueKite – a Wireless Network Bandwidth Optimization Company

BlueKite (www.bluekite.com) is a young company (started in late 1997) based in Silicon Valley of California. BlueKite offers a unique spectrum and bandwidth optimization software platform that allows network operators to achieve greater speed and capacity from existing second generation wireless networks. In a sense, BlueKite utilizes the bandwidth of a wireless network more efficiently by using proprietary techniques like compression, and caching applied at the content, protocol and transport levelsSince wireless network speed and capacity is a serious problem with today’s networks, BlueKite offers an interim solution to this problem. More importantly, BlueKite technology is network agnostic.  Therefore, it has the potential of helping network operators with 2.5 G and 3G networks as well, in future.

To explore the potential of this technology further, MobileInfo.Com interviewed BlueKite during January 2001 to get an insight into this technology.

Q1. - Can you briefly describe technology that BlueKite offers?

Answer: BlueKite’s technology platform is a client/server software solution that enables the delivery of high-performance and cost-effective mobile access to critical data such as corporate Intranets, the World Wide Web, and Web-compatible e-mail systems. The foundation of BlueKite’s platform is its Data Reduxion™ technology. Software solutions from BlueKite fill a fundamental technology gap previously facing network operators, ISPs, and ASPs that wish to provide robust and affordable Web-based data services over wireless networks. Much as companies like Inkotami and Akamai have successfully applied bandwidth-management technologies to help remove bottlenecks in the Internet backbone, BlueKite’s proprietary technology addresses many "last mile" constraints traditionally associated with wireless Web access.

Q2. - What is the value proposition that your product offers to your customers?

BlueKite’s technology platform enables enhanced performance and greater ease of use for end users, as well as expanded capacity and reduced operating costs for service providers.  BlueKite’s solution enhances wireless Web browsing speeds by an average of 5x, and bandwidth efficiency (for services utilizing packet-switched data networks) by an average of 8x.  Service offerings enabled by BlueKite deliver performance on wireless networks equivalent to or better than 56 kbps fixed line connections.

Q3 - Where does it fall in place in the overall mobile computing infrastructure? 

Between the end user device and wireless ISP? Bluekite maintains its servers on the Internet. BlueKite sells its software to service providers looking to deploy wireless data services.

Q4 - How can an enterprise use this in the Intranet context?

BlueKite is an excellent solution for corporate IT departments that wish to provide mobile Web access to their central Exchange server(s). BlueKite’s software makes Outlook Web Access, the standard HTML interface included with Microsoft Exchange, significantly faster and more efficient for use by remote and mobile workers.

Additionally, the BlueKite solution can optimize web-based enterprise applications (sales force automation, customer relationship management, etc.), making the services quick and easy to use for mobile employees. For example, a person on an offsite sales call could check product availability by using a BlueKite-enhanced wireless web service and tapping into a web-based SFA application.

Q5 - What does the customer get? Is there any customization?

The end-user receives enhanced wireless web speed. The full Internet becomes an actual usable service when enhanced by BlueKite’s product.

Q6 - You say it is network agnostic - yet you must be doing something differently in each of the networks?  At which layer of OSI do you operate? Do you look at the actual application content - HTML tags, and stuff?

The core of BlueKite is the Data Reduxion™ technology, which is agnostic to different network types, but is adaptive to the specific IP behaviors of real-time network conditions.  The Data Reduxion technology removes overhead, latency, redundancy, and excess information from web-based transactions.  The technology is built upon a library of encoding algorithms, compression, and caching applied at the content, protocol, and transport levels.  The algorithms do process actual application content including tags, directives, and content within HTTP as well as within the transported content types.

BlueKite also provides a Session Management feature that is network specific.  The feature automatically configures, establishes, manages, and monitors wireless connections.  Session Management is most valuable in complex GSM networks that have multiple data bearer services such as GSM, HSCSD, and GPRS.

Q7 – In one of the press descriptions, the reporter said that you do not compress images - why not?

BlueKite does optimize images.

Q8. How do you license your software to carriers? Do you charge a server-based fee, communications channel-based fee or a user-based fee?

BlueKite licenses its software on a per user seat basis.

Q9 - Who is your competition?

Fourelle, Net2Wireless, Flash Networks

Q10 - If a user was paying on a packet basis (e.g., Bell South Mobitex, CDPD or Motient’s Network), would you see a significant reduction in packets?

Yes. BlueKite’s software enhances bandwidth efficiency for services utilizing packet-based networks by an average of 8x.

Acknowledgement
Special thanks to Mr. Brendan Farnell of BlueKite for this interview. For a fact sheet on BlueKite, click here.

MobileInfo Advisory and Comments: Wireless bandwidth will continue to be in short supply for the foreseeable future, even after 3G networks get installed around the world. Demand for wireless bandwidth at right and affordable prices will always be greater than its supply, until at least 2010 (beyond that, we can not forecast). First, there are natural laws of radio physics and then there is a finite amount of available spectrum for commercial exploitation.  This means that you can not manufacture spectrum in a factory or lay it across the sky as you can do with fixed networks. These factors will dictate the need for efficient use of network capacity - hence, the need for optimization of limited bandwidth in wireless networks. This is a fact that most wireless network public relations folks neither understand nor have a motivation to relate to the user community. Also, naive venture capitalists do not understand the need for optimization (it is too technical for their simple minds) and get taken in by business plans of infrastructure vendors for more 2.5G and 3G networks. This does not suggest that there isn't a need for 2.5G and 3G networks.

Therefore, MobileInfo.Com strongly recommends to the network 'bigwigs and VC's' to attack this problem from several ends.  First, increase the bandwidth by going up the frequency spectrum curve i.e. (3G approach).  Second, devise more efficient coding schemes i.e. (WCDMA, ArrayComm and Mitsubishi approach).  Third, of course, optimize the bandwidth of existing and future networks. In this context, we strongly encourage vendors like BlueKite, Fourelle and Flash Networks to put their expertise, know how and hard work to creating software for bandwidth optimization. This, in our opinion, when fully utilized by network operators, will create the biggest bang for VC buck. Unfortunately, it runs against the immediate interests of infrastructure suppliers (like Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel and Lucent) who are interested in selling newer network technology more than optimizing bandwidth utilization of existing networks. May we suggest to the business development folks at these companies that bandwidth optimization will lead to more meaningful user experience in the short run, get them hooked to wireless applications, expand the market and therefore, will wet users' appetite for 3G and 4G.

We believe that BlueKite is among a handful of vendors (others being Fourelle, Flash Networks) who hold an important key for alleviating (if not solving) this problem of wireless network speed and bandwidth efficiency. However, we would caution users, VCs and network operators, not to buy BlueKite's efficiency claims in wholesale fashion. Our understanding of mathematics of this complex problem tells us that 5x and 8x improvement is the best case scenario. More realistic and sustained improvements may be much less impressive than that. Nonetheless, even a 2x or 3x  improvement, is worth a lot.


Related Resources:
> Afaria Solutions

 

 
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