Reliable and Speedy
Figuring out how and where to host your website content is a challenging and sometimes frustrating process. Self-hosting, Content Delivery Networks (CDN), redundant services, reliability, transfer speeds, global caching, the list seems endless. Throw into the mix the selection of a shiny new tag management system (TMS) and the already cloudy pool of decisions suddenly becomes a bewildering mess. Every vendor seems to promote the positives of their system and downplay the benefits of their competitors. Who do you trust to cut through the verbiage? Is there a simple solution? Let’s take a look at the options.
The majority of enterprise clients that I’ve worked with over the years have struggled with the time it takes their site pages to render in a web browser. In many cases, removing a fraction of a second from an already bulky load time is considered a victory. When it comes to TMS selection, this discussion becomes very pointed because the entire website is often affected by the inclusion of the TMS, and not just a single page. When numerous pages are affected by a hosting decision, it’s time to pull out the micrometers and start measuring. Often it makes sense to host web content in some cloud-based solution instead of self-hosting, but is that always the case?
Website content is hosted on a wide variety of servers, content delivery networks (CDN), and other cloud based storage locations. Most of the time the arguments for a split hosting methodology reduce to concerns over reliability *and *speed. Cloud based delivery systems claim that files load faster in the cloud than if they were self hosted. Why maintain your own systems when the burden can be placed on the cloud infrastructure? It just makes sense, right? Maybe not. It really comes down to how reliable the code host is and how quickly the code can be delivered to the client web browser.
Connecting the Dots
Utilizing a TMS involves some point of contact between a website’s pages and the TMS processing code. There is generally a page level component that connects the TMS code to the end user experience. User experience can be dramatically impacted if the page level code is delivered faster or slower than the TMS processing code. What if the host delivering the TMS code becomes unavailable? Even before content is delivered to the web browser it has to be located using a DNS lookup. What if there are significant delays on the DNS host? This is more than just conjecture. I’ve seen large enterprise websites collapse not because the content was unavailable on a CDN, but because the content could not even be located due to DNS issues beyond a TMS vendor’s ability to resolve. Let’s look at a simple breakdown of how this can happen.
Warning, Danger Ahead
Web content retrieval can be broken down into six basic segments:
- DNS Lookup
- Intitial Connection
- Time to First Byte
- Content Download
- Start Render
- Document Complete
If there are delays in any of these areas the final availability of the content will be affected. Access to files is more than just a good location and a fast network. If TMS content is located on a separate connection than the hosted page there will always be an additional DNS lookup, a separate connection thread, and an additional wait time. This means that regardless of how fast the content can be returned from a separate delivery provider, it will be slower than the same self-hosted content just because of the lookup and connection overhead.
Does this mean that TMS content should never be hosted on a separate network? Not necessarily, but delivery times, additional processing time on the TMS host prior to content availability, and DNS availability should be seriously considered prior to selecting a hosting methodology. In even the best situations a DNS lookup and an additional thread connection will add a quarter of a second to each new request. If the DNS lookup fails then the delay could be indefinite. Apart from even file size and cache concerns this situation alone can be devastating to an enterprise website. If you have questions about how this works have your smart people call our smart people. We’ll talk.
Although we aren’t going to solve all of the complex issues involved in the hosting debate in this post there are some critical questions you need to ask.
Can your TMS accommodate any hosting solution that you require?
If not, why not?
No matter what you settle on for a hosting solution, Satellite can meet your needs. As an integral part of the deployment process, Satellite gives you the ability to self-host, publish to the cloud, or any other combination you settle on. Let me break it down like a fraction for you. With Satellite you are not locked in to a single solution. You have options.
Clear the launch tubes, deploy the code
The deployment of Satellite is a simple process.
First, select your hosting method.
If you decide on using a cloud-hosted delivery methodology then select “Host on Amazon S3.” If you prefer to self-host then select “FTP Delivery” or “Library Download.” We’ll look at these options one at a time.
Hosting on Amazon S3 is a fast and efficient way to get Satellite working on your site. There are no additional configuration issues like setting up an FTP server or transferring code to an alternate CDN. Just flip the switch to “On” and the hosting option is live.
Next, place the Embed code onto your web pages and the hosted library is linked to your site. In each of the hosting options make sure that you add the header and footer code to the pages to activate the Satellite code on your site.
To use the FTP delivery option you will need to setup a FTP server to receive the published library. We can walk you through the specifics on this procedure if you have setup questions, but all that needs to be done within Satellite is select “FTP Delivery” and fill in your FTP account information.
Then switch the option to “On.”
This method will deliver your custom Satellite code to the location of your choice using FTP as the delivery mechanism. Once your web pages contain the header and footer code, Satellite will be active on your site.
To accommodate more complex hosting situations you can also download your custom Satellite library and place it anywhere you choose. This includes an alternate CDN, non-ftp enabled servers, or any other combination of options.
You can place your TMS code where you want it, when you want it to be delivered. No more lookup dependencies to be concerned about when DNS servers go down. If your whole website goes down, there are bigger problems to deal with. Why add the additional challenge of your TMS code possibly being delivered. Don’t take the risk, take a look at Satellite.
If you would like to discuss proven options that fit your needs in TMS hosting contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org