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.

Connection Segments

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.

FTP Options

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.

Amazon S3

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.

Embed Header

Embed Footer

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.”

FTP Delivery

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.

Library Download

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 joel.stachowicz@searchdiscovery.com