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Q&A: NetDNA VP Samir Said on Web Host Strategies for Working

Date:2012-09-14 15:23Origin:Unknown Author: admin Click:
NetDNA VP Samir Said discusses the many benefits of web hosts partnering with a CDN providerRelated Topics: content delivery network, executive interviews, netdna, partnershipsWebsite optimization is a critical element of running a successfu
  NetDNA VP Samir Said discusses the many benefits of web hosts partnering with a CDN provider Related Topics: content delivery network, executive interviews, netdna, partnerships Website optimization is a critical element of running a successful hosting business. Web hosts have a responsibility to their customers to help them achieve the best website performance possible by providing them with the proper tools. There are a few technologies and products available on the market that web hosts can their customers to ensure that they are better prepare for traffic surges. Partnering with a CDN provider enable web hosts to add another value-added service to their porfolio, and in doing so, bring another revenue stream to their business. In an email interview with The WHIR, NetDNA VP Samir Said discusses the strategies web hosts can implement in working with a CDN provider, and how CDN services can ultimately help to benefit web hosts, along with their customers and end users. WHIR: What are some ways web hosts can improve the performance they get from their CDN? Samir Said: Increasing the performance for web hosts is very different than for the average site. All Tier-1 CDNs are relatively fast in North America and Western Europe, with marginal differences between CDN providers. The biggest increases can be gained from selecting a provider that fits the bill of needs. Some hosts, for instance, have significant traction with customers in China who look for a US-based host. Cedexis.com is publishing performance reports by country. If your visitors are accessing your website from China and they get routed to a US-based server, chances are your load times ill be less than optimal. Another important factor is overall page load time. Being aware of third party code on your website (like Google Analytics, Omniture, Facebook Connect, etc. etc.) and how the onload affects end-user experience is critical. There’s still a lot of tools out there that do not load asynchronously, which can affect your page load time negatively. Last but not least, big performance gains for your own website will come from performance testing on your own website. You’ll be surprised how many things you’ll uncover once you look “under the hood” of your website. Pat Meenan, creator of the free (and popular) webpagetest.org, wrote a great article how to get started on webpage. WHIR: How significant will these improvements in website performance be? SS: If you only have time to do one thing, I’d highly recommend firing off a few tests on webpagetest.org. You’ll be able to see quickly how streamlined your website is already and if you are in need of some additional optimization. As a rule of thumb, any webpage should load within three seconds or less. Josh Fraser from Torbit.com posted great data on user engagement and slow websites. WHIR: What kind of criteria should a web host be looking at when selecting a CDN provider? SS: The two key questions to ask are: A) What’s my target demographic? A few hosts that I know of have strong traction with customers from China for instance, who are looking for US-based hosting. If potential clients form China have to connect to a US-server in order to load your website, chances are your site will load slow. Compare this with a host that optimized for his demographic and partnered with a CDN that offers Asia locations. B) Do I want to roll CDN out to all my clients? If yes, for free or as a paid add-on? Leveraging a CDN across your entire client base has several advantages. It’ll make the user experience a lot better and significantly reduces load on your servers. There’s free solutions for this like Cloudlfare and paid offers like OnApp CDN or NetDNA . WHIR: What advantages do CDN services have over other available technologies and best practices that also increase website performance? SS: The other major solution to increase performance is front-end optimization. Instead of speeding up the network layer, ie: the delivery of bits, some companies took a different approach and help decrease the payload, ie: the size of your web pages. In production, many companies use both a CDN as well as FEO. The most notable companies for FEO are Strangeloopnetworks.com (enterprise), Trobit.com (SMB) and Yottaa.com (SMB). Another popular approach is do-it-yourself FEO using the open source tool varnish (varnish-cache.org). WHIR: How are CDN providers partnering with web hosts? SS: Most CDN companies offer plain-vanilla reselling or whitelabeling options. At NetDNA, we follow a more integrated approach and make our entire back-end accessible via our API. That allows web hosts to bake CDN into their infrastructure and pull all important information into their own control panel. Cloudflare.com is a free offering, and thus very popular also with web hosts. Many hosts offer Cloudflare as a free tool to their clients and they have a good track record with hosting companies. Web hosts need to make a conscious decision, before getting into the CDN game, if they want to use CDN as a way to increase ARPU or to use it as part of the overall product. A great example of a successful host that bakes CDN into it’s hosting offering is WPEngine.com.
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