Ascend Communications was last week scheduled to announce an alliance with HydraWeb Technologies to make it easier for many Internet service providers to introduce server load balancing.
The vendor of remote-access equipment will make an equity investment in HydraWeb, which makes devices for directing network traffic to a set of servers.
Officials said the companies will detail product plans next year.
HydraWeb is one of several new vendors of hardware and software used for distributing client information requests among servers. The combination with remote-access giant Ascend may create a powerful engine for bringing that technology into enterprise and Internet service provider networks.
Executives of the two companies said Ascend's and HydraWeb's products together could help enterprises provide quick, reliable access to Web sites hosted either at a headquarters or a service provider.
HydraWeb's hardware serves as a front end to multiple servers, keeping track of which server has the most available resources and how well each application is running on the servers. The device can direct incoming traffic among a number of servers at one site, and also send user requests to a distant site in case of a system or network failure.
According to Raj Sharma, president and CEO of HydraWeb, the companies could help service providers offer "load-balanced dial tone" for enterprise Web sites. The service would ensure not only that the site was always accessible, but that it could efficiently serve the requests of users.
One administrator at a regional Internet service provider and Web co-location service said corporations want any kind of service they can get that will help them hold on to their customers.
"If the Web page doesn't come down quickly, they'll click on the stop button and look at something else," said Rich White, head of San Francisco operations at Best Internet Communications, in California.