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Peak traffic from flash sales or new product launches can be problematic for many retailers during the holidays. With holiday season sales representing 25-35 percent of revenue for many retailers, getting your site prepared for peak can significantly affect your holiday revenue. A website's ability to deliver a great customer experience during peak can hinges on three key areas - infrastructure, application code and CDN configuration.

Though the holidays are still a few months away, now is the ideal time to run a peak threshold load test to determine how many users or how much traffic load you can have on your site before it becomes unresponsive. In a perfect world, everyone would have a staging environment that exactly mirrored their production environment to run this test on but that's not the case for many retailers. First things first for those running tests against your production environment -- make sure you coordinate with your IT teams, datacenter and CDN before and during testing to avoid any interruption to customer traffic. Without proper coordination, you could inadvertently cause a DDoS of your own website!

Descriptive Statistics for #WebPerf


Stats.  How geeky.  And boring.  I hardly remember anything from basic elementary math, let alone anything to do with statistical analysis at a college / university level.  But it turns out that statistics can be incredibly useful in describing what's happening across a population, such as when you use Real User Monitoring (RUM) to get performance metrics (such as load times) across your user base.

Why is this important?  Glad you asked.  There is well-accepted evidence from some of the largest e-tailers including Amazon and Wal-Mart on the effect of conversions and sales revenues with a site's performance.  Most of this data centers around median scores (in other words, the "average" performance of a page), where an increase (or decrease) in a page's median load times correlate to measurable changes in conversion rates.  The reason why we use median instead of mean is because median is much more resistant to outliers that may markedly affect the "average" number, and hence distort what we perceive as the typical experience when visiting a page.


In part 1 of the deep dive we learned about the best practices involved in choosing an appropriate image format in preparation for web delivery. In part 2 we will discuss different configurations to leverage Akamai's Adaptive Image Compression (AIC).


As many web developers and content designers know, compression is as much an art as it is a science. Knowing when to apply compression and how much compression to apply is paramount to your user experience. A one size fits all method means you're either not compressing enough and leaving potential performance gains on the table (forcing your user to wait) or potentially compressing too much, putting your user experience and product in jeopardy.

Akamai Assists ISPs in Providing a Family-Friendly Internet

 

Family and Internet safety advocates have lobbied long and hard to government regulators and Internet service and content providers for stronger measures and controls over the types of content viewable by children when online. And based on recent reports, some ISPs have responded in a favorable way, by implementing services that place automatic blocks on "high risk" websites including those that feature nudity or sexual content or are related to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, among others. Furthermore, users seem to be taking advantage of these services rather than opting out of them, creating safer Internet environments in their homes, while Internet providers reap the benefits of high scores for customer satisfaction and the potential for long-term revenue growth. A true win-win!


Picture this - you arrive to your office early in the morning to finalize your back to school promotions so you can move on to your holiday marketing plans. As you are busily trying to answer emails, you came across an ominous message explaining to you that if you don't pay 40 Bitcoins, a group you've never heard of would knock your site offline in 24 hours with a powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack can be carried out in many different ways but at the most basic, it is executed by flooding a website with more traffic or requests than the infrastructure can handle - thus taking it offline for legitimate customers. It may sound like the plot to a movie but unfortunately it's a reality.  Check out our coverage of the DD4BC operation here.  


It's summertime!  While most people are relaxing at the beach or enjoying a BBQ, here at Akamai we've already shifted sights towards the winter to provide relief for retailers by ensuring they have fast, reliable and secure e-commerce sites in time for the holidays.  The holiday season, after all, is just around the corner.  Here are four key ways we are helping retailers convert more shoppers into buyers while also securing their web experiences:


(1)  Make the experience fast

Last year, for the first time, Akamai saw more than 50% of holiday traffic from mobile devices during certain periods of the day.  This trend will undoubtedly continue as shoppers embrace multi-channel experiences while accessing content from different devices at different times of the day.  Akamai's Real User Monitoring (RUM) provides retailers with a detailed understanding of the actual page load time visitors experience across the myriad of devices and networks.  Akamai Ion provides the fastest acceleration for content accessed on all types of devices and networks including the unique challenges of responsive web design, congested cellular networks and those pesky API calls which slow down the mobile app experience.

Delivering High Performing Images on the Akamai Edge


Deep Dive - Part 1: Image Formats

In our previous entry, we got a glimpse into the capabilities of the Akamai Adaptive Image Compression (AIC) product, and how it can help in making the fastest sites on the Internet even faster. But how does fast delivery of images actually happen? In this two part deep dive, we will address:

  • Initial decision points content developers need to keep in mind when evaluating image formats, and their image compression options
  • The Adaptive Image Compression implementation process, and how to choose your compression settings

Is HTTP/2 worth the performance price of TLS?

HTTP/2 (h2) is incredibly exciting: The first major rev to HTTP in 15 years, focused on modern web development, performance minded, etc., etc.  But one thing that has people looking at it with trepidation is that to use it you effectively need to move your site over to TLS (i.e. HTTPS).  Though not a requirements in the protocol, no major browser has plans to put h2 in the clear.  Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing ( I personally am thrilled ) it brings front and center the questions you may have been avoiding: should I move my site to TLS? We have done extensive testing of h2 performance.  Akamai's Foundry team spent time after every significant revision of the draft specification seeing what worked and what did not.  What we saw was consistent: improvements in page load time in the common case between 0% and 25%.  What is significant about these particular numbers is they are comparing an HTTP version of a site against an HTTPS version using TLS and h2.  In other words, the 'goodness' of h2 should make up for the overhead of TLS and then some in most cases.  Performance can be very situational, so mileage will vary in specific scenarios and on specific webpages, but it is exciting to see improvements on the horizon.


Stephen Ludin is a Chief Architect for Akamai's Web Experience group. He currently heads the company's Foundry team - a small group dedicated to innovating on the edge of technology. He joined Akamai in 2002 and works out of Akamai's San Francisco office. His primary focus has been on projects related to the core proxy technology that is responsible for routing, accelerating, and securing Akamai's traffic.

How Can You Trust a Website?


During an early summer morning on August 1982, in the brightly lit hallway of a non-descript academic building on the campus of University of California Berkeley, two scientists who were working on what the world will later know as the Internet, had a brief but very important conversation:

"How can we trust ARPANET?"

"Because you can trust your colleagues."

End-User Mapping Brings Users Closer to Internet Nirvana

It goes without saying that people enjoy using the Internet more when response times are fastest. But most of us are not as concerned about why websites respond more quickly, as long as they do. There are many factors that contribute to faster (and more satisfying) web experiences. Certainly, faster broadband connectivity and well-designed web sites play a role. And websites that leverage content delivery networks (CDNs), which distribute web content to servers located closer to end-users, outperform sites that don't.

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