Web acceleration refers to the process of making the delivery of content from the web server to the end user faster.
There are two types of web accelerators. There is hardware, which sits in front of web servers and acts as a proxy server. And there is software, which can be installed on the client device, or on web and ISP servers.
Why Should I Use a Web Accelerator?
One obvious benefit of using an accelerator is reduced page load times. This results in a smoother and faster user experience. Web accelerators also improve download speeds for text, images, videos and other static content.
How Does a Web Accelerator Work?
Web accelerators use a number of techniques to optimize content delivery to users.
Caching content is one of the most common techniques. Web accelerators cache frequently accessed websites so they can be served directly from the appliance, rather than the origin server. Individual website assets are also cached.
Another technique is to compress files, making them smaller for faster delivery.
The next technique is predictive content fetching. This predicts which content the user will access next and prefetches it. Prefetching tries to eliminate the waiting time to load content by intelligently predicting the client’s browser behaviour.
An interesting application of prefetching is in online gaming, where game assests are broken down into chunks, and a predictive model is developed. This predicts which assests should be prefetched to keep the game running smoothly, while taking care of content delivery. However, this does not help in transmitting real time player actions instantaneously.
Types of Web Accelerators
There are two types of web accelerators. Client side web accelerators and server side web accelerators.
Client side web accelerators are targeted towards end users, and are usually provided by ISPs as part of their internet services. These client side webs accelerators serve to improve the browsing experience for end users.
Server side web accelerators sit in front of web or application servers and accelerate content delivery to globally distributed users. In addition to using caching, compression and prefetching content, client side web accelerators act as load balancers. They distribute http requests between multiple web servers so no one server exceeds its limit. Load balancers stream line content requests to web servers so they are served quickly.
Limits of Your Current Web Accelerator
Traditional web accelerators are ideal for fast static content delivery. Techniques like compression, caching and prefetching work well with content like static files, images and static videos.
Dynamic content is another story. Dynamic content, by definition, is non-cacheable and does not lend itself well to pre-fetching. Services like real time video streaming, online gaming, VoIP or peer to peer downloads are almost exclusively dynamic. As such, web accelerators do not help them optimize their services.
Next Generation Web Accelerator
Datapath.io provides a service which is similar to a server side web accelerator, with the added advantage of dynamic content acceleration. Network optimization with Datapath.io replaces the internet connection of AWS based web services, providing more control over how to route traffic to improve the speed of content delivery.
Datapath.io has a Direct Connect to AWS. AWS based web services can opt to route their traffic over the Datapath.io connection, resulting in latency improvements upwards of 60%.
Datapath.io is ideal for services like online gaming, VoIP, SaaS, real time video streaming and AdTech. These services generate significant real-time dynamic content, which requires optimizing delivery from the origin directly to the end user.
To learn more about the Datapath.io solution, download the AWS Network Optimization Whitepaper.