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Dell And Napster To Help University Networks Clogged With Music Downloads

In a move to help colleges and universities cope with the deluge of digital downloads surging across their networks, Dell and Napster are teaming to provide a service that will let students check out the latest from Gwen Stefani or Black Eyed Peas without slowing network traffic to a crawl.

Dell plans this fall to begin offering higher-education customers a package of blade servers running Napster's digital music service that will create cache storage of student downloads and divert this traffic from a university's Internet access connection.

There's a huge student demand to download music files, says John Mullen, VP of Dell's higher-education business. "When lots of students are downloading simultaneously, it hurts network performance," he says.

Dell and Napster are looking to help schools alleviate digital traffic jams that could, ahem, interfere with more scholarly pursuits. Under the new service, once a student requests a song from Napster's site, that song is stored on the Dell servers for the next student who requests the same song. Eventually, students create a repository of the most popular music that can be accessed from the local servers without connecting to Napster for each song.

While those songs will still travel over a university's core network, this approach should reduce the amount of traffic traveling over a school's Internet connections and free up bandwidth for students and research assistants doing actual school work during their caffeine-fueled all-nighters.

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