WebRef Update: Featured Article: Fill the Need for Speed with Content Delivery Services
Fill the Need for Speed with Content Delivery Services
The Internet is a great way to reach customers - but it also means that your competitors are just a mouse click away. According to Zona Research, $4.6 billion per year is lost due to users abandoning slow Web sites. Providing a fast and reliable Web site helps keep customers at your site. While there are numerous ways to change your Web site content to maximize speed, in this article we'll talk about a way to optimize Web site performance by using a Content Delivery Service (CDS).
What Is a Content Delivery Service?
A content delivery service uses multiple Web servers distributed across the country to deliver copies of your Web site content. The three primary benefits are speed, reliability, and flash crowd protection.
When a user calls up your CDS-enhanced Web site, the system quickly determines the best site for that user and sends them there. Generally, the fastest site is the closest site. For example, users in California and New York would be directed to servers in their respective states or regions. This approach avoids the congestion and delays involved in a cross-country trip that would occur without a CDS. The increased speed is significant - a CDS will often provide a 2x to 10x speed improvement.
Because your site is duplicated at multiple locations, you are no longer dependent on a single ISP. If any one server site provided by the CDS goes down, traffic is redirected to another server site, and your users are still able to reach your content. Moreover, if your ISP's server goes down, duplicated content is still available from the CDS's server sites. A CDS can typically provide a 5x improvement in reliability.
Flash Crowd Protection:
Because a CDS uses multiple, high capacity cache servers, your site gains the capacity to handle large surges in traffic. Such popularity and overload is common and has brought many sites to their knees. We all try to promote our sites - a CDS can assure that a successful promotion doesn't backfire by overloading your Web site to the point where poor performance is driving away users.
Things to Look For in a CDS
If you go with a CDS, make sure you get what you paid for. You'll need some type of service to provide ongoing data showing that the CDS is providing speed and reliability to all users. A performance monitoring service included with the CDS service is convenient. Otherwise a separate monitoring system should be considered. Keynote (http://www.keynote.com), for example, costs approximately $500/month per URL monitored.
Revised: Aug. 25, 2000