Google has announced that they’re discontinuing PageSpeed, a go-to optimization service, as of August 3, 2015. Users are urged to switch DNS’s before that date, as Google has “decided that the time has come to re-focus (our) efforts elsewhere” (like on the whole mobile readiness push that became official in April). However, there will be similar tech that’s offered on PageSpeed via “a number of alternative packagings.” Many web hosts use PageSpeed, and those who do will still be able to support these services to their clients from these “alternative packagings.”
However, web hosts should also know that their more tech-savvy clients might start researching new content delivery network (CDN) services, and there are a lot to choose from. CloudFlare is pushing strongly to take over PageSpeed users, complete with easy directions that even Luddites could follow. As a web host, the best approach is to tell customers about the PageSpeed alternatives and choose a CDN provider that works best for their own business. Usually, these services are an add-on feature for hosts, not their bread and butter, but hosts shouldn’t have to lose customers just because of Google’s move.
CDNs for VIPs
Also known as a content distribution network, a CDN is a massive server system that’s deployed in numerous data centers. They are created to deliver content with great performance and availability. Already, CDNs serve a majority of content on the internet such as text, scripts and graphics, as well as many downloadable materials, on-demand streaming, social networks, applications and live streaming. Those that deliver content, like media companies, hire CDN providers to deliver content to audiences (end-users). The CDN then pays ISPs (internet service providers), network operators and carriers for hosting servers within data centers. With a CDN, you get more than “just” optimized availability and performance—you can also enjoy better traffic flow and cost savings.
There’s also a safety bonus. Relying on a CDN makes content providers safer from DDoS attacks since there’s a big server infrastructure instead of just one potential area to attack. In the early days, CDNs often provided content via dedicated servers which were owned, on-site and operated by the CDN itself, but the recent trend towards a hybrid approach with P2P tech has fortunately moved CDNs away from this strategy. Now, usually dedicated and peer-user-owned computers are used to minimize attacks.
The Price of Security
For the web host, there are a number of CDN options to choose from, and plenty of time to research the best fit for them and their clients. Free CDN’s include Bootstrap, CloudFlare, Coral Content Distribution Network and Incapsula (although this one comes with a requisite advertisement). Traditional CDNs are aplenty, including Amazon’s CloudFront, Windows Azure CDN, Akami Technologies, OnApp, StreamZilla CDN and MetaCDN. Some telecommunication companies also offer CDN services, including AT&T, Pacnet and Verizon. Finally, there are P2P commercial CDNs available from BitTorrent, Internap and Pando Networks.
Both web hosts and customers should spend the summer checking out alternatives and figuring out what they loved about PageSpeed—and what could be improved.