Remember when bringing your company online was as simple as having a website with a shopping cart and watching the dollars roll in? Today you would call that at best the bare minimum to establishing an online presence. Your website is your company in the eyes of today’s customers and your customers can be and are anywhere in the world.
This means that your customers will often make the determination that a slow performing website means that the company does not care about quality or its public image and thus is not worth their time and money. This results in the customer voting to take their business elsewhere and lost sales for you. It hurts even more as your company expands globally.
How do we solve this problem of low performing websites harming your online sales around the globe? Traffic Management is the key to how you can optimize the global experience of your website.
The speed of light is 299,792.458 km/second. Think about that for a moment. That means that theoretically, Round-Trip Time (RTT) from the U.S. East Coast to U.S. West Coast already has a ~40ms penalty right out of the box. When you factor in the state of the Internet (fiber cuts, DDoS attacks, general congestion at peak hours), this RTT suddenly becomes ~90ms.
90ms doesn’t sound like a lot, but it builds up quickly. Add up a handful of DNS queries that go cross-country to get a response and you might be approaching a half second spent on DNS alone, and this is before your web browser actually begins downloading the web page you’re trying to visit! Throw in actual Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) connections over Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that have to travel long distances and soon you’re talking many seconds to load a web page, without even getting into the performance of your code and web servers.
What this means is that latency kills website performance and causes a handicap on your efforts to increase your sales. KISSMetrics has done studies showing that a one second increase in latency equals about a 7% reduction in sales. This has to stop and Traffic Management is a major solution to this problem.
Traffic Management begins with DNS. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the control plane of the Internet and the world’s largest and most successful distributed database. DNS ensures every device on the Internet is able to translate your domain name (yourcompany.com) to its IP address (188.8.131.52). This simple (at least on the surface) concept works like magic.
When working correctly, no one directly notices DNS problems. Indirectly is another story. DNS is very sensitive to latency. Every website requires at least one DNS query to successfully load and many websites consist of numerous assets: everything from images, video, audio, ads, social media, and more. It is not uncommon for websites to require tens or even hundreds of DNS queries to load a single web page. Suddenly DNS becomes the roadblock to even begin loading your website.
An easy win for optimizing your website is leveraging a global Managed DNS provider such as Dyn with a large, distributed, and properly maintained anycast network. Anycast ensures that DNS queries, no matter where they originate from, hit the fastest nameserver on the network. Many companies today still use the older unicast-style networks, which can significantly increase latency since they cannot control which nameserver a DNS query arrives at. You can’t solve Traffic Management without solving your global DNS performance.
Traffic Management Basics
The next step, once your DNS provider is chosen, is to begin leveraging Traffic Management capabilities with your current and future infrastructure. Traffic Management solutions, such as Dyn’s Traffic Director, allow you to load balance DNS traffic across multiple endpoints. This simple concept, which from an end user’s perspective is as simple as rotating which A, AAAA, or CNAME records are returned for a given fully-qualified domain name (FQDN), allows for an amazing amount of flexibility. Suddenly you are able to load balance multiple hardware servers or even CDN providers, sending a percentage of your traffic to each endpoint you feel is best. This allows you to easily scale your infrastructure by adding more endpoints to load balance between.
With failover capabilities, the Traffic Management solution can monitor each endpoint and ensure that traffic will only be directed to it when it’s healthy and available. This allows your Traffic Management solution to make intelligent decisions on how to route traffic, ensuring maximum uptime and performance.
Traffic Management On A Global Scale
This all gets interesting is when geolocation is thrown into the mix.
Today you have a single CDN, but what if you want to expand to not just multiple CDNs, but selectively use the best CDN for a given geographic area? You may want to use the best performing CDN in Europe, the best performing CDN in Australia, and more depending on where your end users are located. Traffic Management solutions allow you to achieve that level of granularity. You can configure many load balancing rulesets, each one used only when specific geographic criteria are matched.
Suddenly, not just your DNS, but your actual content, is right next to where your end users are located. Performance is drastically increased, latency drastically reduced. What earlier was an example of traffic having an automatic 90ms penalty going from U.S. East Coast to U.S. West Coast instead can have latency drastically reduced to 30, 20, or even 10ms depending on your global infrastructure’s footprint because now your content is as close to your end-users as you enable it to be.
In the end, Traffic Management enables you to gain every millisecond of performance your infrastructure is capable of by optimizing how your end users arrive at your content.