What is the ICAP Forum?

The ICAP Forum was created for the purpose of exchanging and disseminating ideas and information about ICAP's technical capabilities, improvements, and innovations. The ICAP Forum consists of a group of companies with a common desire to enable communication between edge devices and network-based applications. The Forum believes that by encouraging vendors to work together it can accelerate the availability of solutions, understand the problems that need to be addressed, and assist the standards community in the development of open standards. The end result is the creation of a host of new value-added services that are delivered at the edge of the Internet with unprecedented speed and reliability. The Forum works to promote broad acceptance of ICAP products on a worldwide basis, across enterprise, network service providers, and IT industries.

Membership is open to any corporation or organization, which is engaged in activities related to ICAP research, development and/or manufacturing, or any software firm or other users of ICAP products that are interested in developing and improving the ICAP standard.

Forum Members are not required to support the ICAP standard to the exclusion of other protocols.

Is the ICAP Forum a consortium or standards body?
Will the companies meet on a regular basis?
What will the companies' involvement entail beyond this announcement?

Participating companies are announcing the establishment of the ICAP Forum for the development and review of ideas, concepts, and standards contributions. The ICAP Forum is NOT a standards-making group or a closed-consortium, and is open to any interested participants. Furthermore, the ICAP Forum is endorsed by major companies that span several different market segments.

Participants will meet on an as-needed basis to coordinate the review of ideas and contributions to be delivered to standards bodies.

What are the benefits of an ICAP Forum membership for corporate users?

Companies participating in the ICAP forum are listed on the participant page. With a logo, link and quote they can show their commitment to ICAP. Designated users of the corporate participant can also request to add, delete or edit entries on the solutions and products page for their company. After a manual verification process, the products will be listed on the Forum's web page and will provide information to all users about available solutions in the ICAP space.

Is ICAP a complex protocol?

ICAP provides a very simple operation to vector content between caches and network-based applications servers. Because no proprietary APIs or software developer toolkits are required, ICAP will dramatically reduce implementation cost and time-to-market for software developers and service providers. By being standards-based, ICAP has the potential to be adopted by range of vendors, as indicated by the number of companies presently supporting its development. ICAP also leverages the latest Internet infrastructure developments including the cache and Internet content delivery convergence.

The principal advantages of ICAP include:
  1. It is scalable, allowing several ICAP servers to service requests & responses from a single cache.
  2. It is open: anyone can implement, which extends a caching server to provide new services at the edge of the network.
  3. It is more efficient than adding one Web proxy per service.

What types of Value Added Services will ICAP enable?

Never before has there been a standard approach to delivering applications to users at the edge of the Internet and as such, it is difficult to predict all of the services that will be enabled by ICAP. Edge delivery of Internet content has dramatically increased Web users Internet experience. In a similar fashion, when applications are delivered from an edge device, end users will find the applications execute more quickly and are more reliable.

It is envisioned that in the future, ICAP servers may be available to provide some of the following services:

  • Language translation
  • Virus checking
  • Family ( PG/R/X ) content filtering
  • Local real-time ad insertion
  • Wireless protocol translation
  • Anonymous Web usage profiling (perhaps for a dating service)
  • Transcoding or image enhancement
  • Image magnification for the elderly
  • Digest production/batch download of Web content

How will this enable more reliable delivery of applications?

Today, applications are centralized within the confines of a single enterprise or Web site. ICAP "externalizes" applications and enables them to be network-based. The end result is that ISPs, Web site owners, and Web visitors can dynamically utilize applications on an as-needed basis.

Why does ICAP perform better than proxy chaining?

ICAP offers special features such as "Preview" and "204 responses", especially designed to reduce the traffic that has to be exchanged between an ICAP client and an ICAP server. Not only they reduce the bandwidth that an ICAP service needs to handle but also help to keep the latency introduced by filtering to a minimum.

Which protocols can ICAP encapsulate?

ICAP/1.0 has been designed to encapsulate HTTP messages. By translating other protocols first to HTTP and then encapsulating into ICAP, some vendors have found a way to use ICAP also for other protocols such as FTP; in this case implementation remains interoperable with other ICAP services. ICAP has also been used to encapsulate messages of other protocols natively (without translating to HTTP first); those implementations are usually no standard implementations and are not interoperable with other solutions.

Can ICAP/1.0 be extended?

The ICAP specifications describe various ways how to extend ICAP. Many vendors have added more ICAP headers and/or ICAP methods to the protocol. The specifications allow both kind of extensions and describe how clients and servers should be designed to remain interoperable when dealing with unsupported extensions.

In order to make extensions re-usable, the ICAP forum is the platform for publishing ICAP extensions to the community.