By combining reverse web proxies running Apache Trafficserver in geographically disperse locations, we can accelerate traditional shared hosting en masse. Using private instance WebPageTest, we bring awareness of Web Application Performance best practices to the general web hosting customer. Will accelerated web sites be the standard of tomorrow? Read about how we are working to ensure they are.
Go Daddy is the worlds largest web hosting provider, with over 5 million domains hosted. Most webmasters use open source packages such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, ZenCart, and Simple Machines Forum. They want their sites to be fast, but may not have the budget or technical expertise to take advantage of commercially available Content Delivery Network (CDN) systems.
Goals of Website Accelerator
Go Daddy recognizes the importance of making the web faster. Faster web pages means our customers’ visitors are more satisfied. Faster web pages also means higher conversion rates. This makes our customers happy, which makes us happy. We want to make our customers’ web pages faster without adding technical burden. It needs to be as easy as a light switch, and it needs to be economical. We want everybody to have the benefits of dynamic CDN technology for faster loading web pages.
If we can make our customers’ sites faster and make the price economical and it’s as easy as a mouse click to set up, we suspect we’ll have wide spread adoption. This will make a difference in the ecosystem of the Internet. We’re making the web a faster place.
Go Daddy Website Accelerator
Website Accelerator uses Content Delivery Network (CDN) technology to cache static files on geographically disperse servers. At date of launch, our Points-of-Presence (POPs) are strategically spread across the United States to cover West, Mid, and East, effectively. Visitors are routed to the server closest to them. Website Accelerator proxies customers’ sites, meaning it intercepts visitor requests, looks to see if the requested file is in cache, and if so, delivers the file back to the visitor, effectively shortening the distance the file has to travel to reach the visitor. This means drastically faster web pages. Our test and early release customers experienced an average of 25% performance gains.
In addition to the dynamic CDN, Website Accelerator also provides a Performance Dashboard inside the Hosting Control Center. The Performance Dashboard measures our customers’ web page load times from computers around the United States and displays the results in an easy to understand way. It measures both the Accelerated page load time and the Original page load time so users can see exactly how much faster their site is with Website Accelerator.
For those who want to understand Website Performance even more, the Performance Dashboard in Website Accelerator has advanced metrics that include:
- Load time
- Time to First Byte
- Total Objects
- Cached Objects
- Text Compression
- Image Optimization
The in-app tool tips and help article provide education on what are good and bad values for these metrics and how to improve them. We hope this provides an introduction to web application performance best practices. We realize that for many, this will be their first view of this practice. That’s why we keep it short and simple and stick to the main principles with the biggest bang for the buck.
At date of launch, the Go Daddy Website Accelerator is available with the following restrictions:
- US-based Hosting only
- Linux Ultimate Web Hosting only
- Domain and Hosting must be in the same account
- No DNSSEC
- Not compatible with SSL*
*With SSL installed, customers may still activate Website Accelerator, however, the https portion of their website will not load. An in-app message warns of this situation.
To take advantage of Website Accelerator, activate it in the Hosting Control Center. A Website Accelerator icon is located under the Tools menu for qualified accounts.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Leif Hedstrom and the Apache Trafficserver (ATS) team for providing ATS. It’s a high speed reverse web proxy software that caches and serves files.
Advantages of Apache Traffiserver
There are many advantages to ATS; it’s fast, use raw devices for cache, has a lot of configuration variables for maximum flexibility, and most importantly, there is a great community on the public IRC channel.
We selected Apache Trafficserver for its proven track record with handling a high volume of concurrent requests. Some alternatives are:
We deployed a WebPageTest private instance with test agents in the US-West and US-East. These agents simulate browsers loading our customers’ sites. We extract and store the data and display a simplified version that is easy for our customers to understand.
Customers want faster web sites. We’re giving them a dynamic CDN that caches static files at strategic geographical locations across the United States. (While this is only available in the US for now, we plan to expand internationally in the future.) The performance dashboard makes it easy for customers to understand how much faster their site is. By making it economical and super easy to install, we expect a large adoption; Large enough to make a measurable impact on the Internet. This is our contribution to help “make the web a faster place.”