High-Performance Web Sites

Steve Souders

Steve Souders, High-Performance Web Sites, Communications of the ACM, 51(12):36-41, 12 2008.

Google Maps, Yahoo! Mail, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Amazon are examples of Web sites built to scale. They access petabytes of data sending terabits per second to millions of users worldwide. The magnitude is awe-inspiring. Users view these large-scale Web sites from a narrower perspective. The typical user has megabytes of data that they download at a few hundred kilobits per second. Users are less interested in the massive number of requests per second being served, caring more about their individual requests. As they use these Web applications they inevitably ask the same question: "Why is this site so slow?" The answer hinges on where development teams focus their performance improvements. Performance for the sake of scalability is rightly focused on the backend. Database tuning, replicating architectures, customized data caching, and so on, allow Web servers to handle a greater number of requests. This gain in efficiency translates into reductions in hardware costs, data center rack space, and power consumption. But how much does the backend affect the user experience in terms of latency? The Web applications listed here are some of the most highly tuned in the world, and yet they still take longer to load than we'd like. It almost seems as if the high-speed storage and optimized application code on the backend have little impact on the end user's response time. Therefore, to account for these slowly loading pages we must focus on something other than the backend: we must focus on the frontend.


Bibliography Navigation: Reference List; Author Index; Title Index; Keyword Index

Generated by sharef2html on 2011-04-15, 02:00:41.