Friday, December 23, 2011

Burning Rubber on the Internet Superhighway

Online commerce is in its prime. Never before has a similar priority been placed on Web presence by organizations in every industry. Even brick-and-mortar companies are scrambling to put their best foot forward in the online world and not be eclipsed by their more technology-savvy competitors. E-commerce vendors spend huge amounts of resources on elaborate, logical websites that are designed to lead the end-user to conversion. There is one factor, however, that is commonly overlooked in the process: performance.
Since the proliferation of broadband Internet, user expectations of website performance have skyrocketed. A myriad of statistics support the fact that people expect websites, video and audio to load faster than ever before. According to Forrester Research, 36 percent of unique visitors will leave a website if it fails to load within the first three seconds. A 2009 survey by ResearchLine found that 26 percent of respondents would move to a competitor's website if a vendor's website failed to perform, resulting in an immediate revenue loss of 26 percent and a future loss of 15 percent. These statistics paint the picture of tangible, quantifiable consequences to performance deficits.
The traditional answer to these performance issues is the content delivery network (CDN). CDNs attempt to improve performance by placing content as close to the end-user as possible, a technique known as "edge caching." Edge caching places expiration times on copies of the source data all over the world, and users are able to access these copies much more quickly. Some advanced CDNs also use unique algorithms and massive distributed networks to proactively identify trouble spots on the public Internet and reroute content around them.

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