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