The present invention is a network architecture or framework that supports hosting and content distribution on a truly global scale. The inventive framework allows a Content Provider to replicate and serve its most popular content at an unlimited number of points throughout the world. The inventive framework comprises a set of servers operating in a distributed manner. The actual content to be served is preferably supported on a set of hosting servers (sometimes referred to as ghost servers). This content comprises HTML page objects that, conventionally, are served from a Content Provider site. In accordance with the invention, however, a base HTML document portion of a Web page is served from the Content Provider's site while one or more embedded objects for the page are served from the hosting servers, preferably, those hosting servers near the client machine. By serving the base HTML document from the Content Provider's site, the Content Provider maintains control over the content.
# These numbers are used for explaining every process involved... explanations are not included in this document and there are other flowcharts and diagrams too which are also not included in this doc.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Technical Field
This invention relates generally to information retrieval in a computer network. More particularly, the invention relates to a novel method of hosting and distributing content on the Internet that addresses the problems of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Content Providers. 2. Description of the Related Art
The World Wide Web is the Internet's multimedia information retrieval system. In the Web environment, client machines effect transactions to Web servers using the Hyper text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which is a known application protocol providing users access to files (e.g., text, graphics, images, sound, video, etc.) using a standard page description language known as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML provides basic document formatting and allows the developer to specify "links" to other servers and files. In the Internet paradigm, a network path to a server is identified by a so-called Uniform Resource Locator (URL) having a special syntax for defining a network connection. Use of an HTML-compatible browser (e.g., Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer) at a client machine involves specification of a link via the URL. In response, the client makes a request to the server identified in the link and, in return, receives a document or other object formatted according to HTML. A collection of documents supported on a Web server is sometimes referred to as a Web site. It is well known in the prior art for a Web site to mirror its content at another server. Indeed, at present, the only method for a Content Provider to place its content closer to its readers is to build copies of its Web site on machines that are located at Web hosting farms in different locations domestically and internationally. These copies of Web sites are known as mirror sites. Unfortunately, mirror sites place unnecessary economic and operational burdens on Content Providers, and they do not offer economies of scale. Economically, the overall cost to a Content Provider with one primary site and one mirror site is more than twice the cost of a single primary site. This additional cost is the result of two factors:
(1) The Content Provider must contract with a separate hosting facility for each mirror site. (2) The Content Provider must incur additional overhead expenses associated with keeping the mirror sites synchronized.
In an effort to address problems associated with mirroring, companies such as Cisco, Resonate, Bright Tiger, FS Labs and Alteon, are developing software and hardware that will help keep mirror sites synchronized and load balanced. Although these mechanisms are helpful to the Content Provider, they fail to address...