Serving Files with a Cache to Save Cash

Some podcasters and other publishers who serve large, high-traffic files have begun using the Coral service to keep from going offline or going broke. The iPodder client added support in March.

Coral's a network of several hundred servers that can store and serve copies of any file on the web. To offer a file via Coral, all you have to do is add to the host name in its URL.

Here's an example -- the trailer for the underappreciated Brat Pack thriller Bad Influence starring James Spader as a passive yuppie and Rob Lowe as the devil. If Video Detective wanted to save bandwidth and offer the file over Coral, it could change the original URL to a Coralized version.

Coral's also a useful place to look for any URL that can't be loaded due to high traffic or some other problem. Just add to the host name of a request, as in There are Coralize bookmarklets for browsers that can request any page from Coral's cache.

The long-term plan for Coral is to expand the network, adding any host who wants to serve requests. This brings up integrity issues raised in the debate over Google Toolbar's autolink feature, as noted by Wes Felter -- there must be a way to ensure that a Coral server is not modifying the original content in transit.

The NYU Secure Computer Systems Group that developed Coral has created an Apache module for signing web content. Clients could use this signature to verify that content has arrived in unaltered form.

I'm going to see if this module can be fished out of Coral, so I can sign content on Workbench as a testbed for the concept.


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