Content delivery network (CDN)

Lessons From Rio on Net Performance

The Rio Olympics have concluded, wrapping up two weeks of international celebration, camaraderie and sport. More than half a million tourists flocked to Brazil from all corners of the Earth -- bringing with them smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, and all expecting a great digital experience as they watched events live, used social media and live-chatted via video services with friends and relatives in their home countries. But did they all get the experience they expected? And what can companies with global expansion aspirations learn from the Internet performance trends that impacted on tourists visiting the Olympics?

Just before the opening ceremonies started on August 5, Dyn conducted an audit of Internet performance conditions at the Games for spectators from different countries around the world to see how digital experiences would differ based on one's home country. While those who attended the games in Brazil were connected to the Internet via the same infrastructure (through roaming and WiFi), when it comes to connecting to services hosted back home, end users from different countries had different digital experiences when accessing content.

The results were telling: While distance played a role in Internet performance, it was not the only contributing factor. New York was almost twice as fast as Sydney, Australia. But the performance from San Francisco to Rio was only 13 milliseconds faster than from London.

But what did these numbers mean to visitors in Rio for the Games? A request for access to a web page hosted in New York can be made in a minimum of 216 milliseconds (slightly less than a quarter of a second). That web page may have multiple requests -- say ten distinct requests -- from ads and other connected applications. When you add these requests up, the web page load is now two seconds or more depending on the site -- and depending on the cloud providers and CDNs used.

And what does this mean for these sites? Slow web services can lead to customer dissatisfaction, page abandonments and, ultimately, less revenue. As more businesses rely on cloud and CDN resources they will need to get their content as close as possible to their users to ensure that latencies are eliminated or minimized. Where resources are placed and which clouds and CDNs a business uses makes a big difference in how quickly content gets to customers.

Following are three takeaways from the Rio Olympics that every business should consider as they go global.

Visibility and control into the Internet are crucial to global companies
Our exercise in reviewing Internet performance to Brazil from around the world highlighted a well known tech principle: get your content as close as possible to your users. But the Olympics only happens every four years and Brazil is not likely a strategically important market for every business. But the importance of locating assets near to your users is an important one and it starts with visibility. Where is data traveling on the global network to your end users and what are the best-performing routes? How do the different clouds or CDNs stack up to expansion plans by region, by performance and by price? With research pointing to consumers abandoning sites with greater than 5-second load time delays, your business no longer has the luxury of taking Internet performance for granted.

But visibility and knowledge into regional and global Internet performance conditions is only half the battle. Your business needs the agility to control your routes to the customer to ensure the best-possible digital experience.

Multiple clouds or CDNs are a must
Any entrepreneur knows, you always need at least one backup plan. If plan A misfires, you need a plan B and a plan C. Similarly, you should never rely on just one cloud or CDN. If the cloud under-performs or goes down, your revenue and reputation go with it. Multiple options -- even secondary routing options -- ensure you'll optimize performance and maintain the best-possible digital experience for your customers, wherever they are.

The need for multiple clouds or CDNs came into sharp focus on the day of the opening ceremonies at the Games. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Cloud Compute Engine experienced an outage for over an hour on August 5. Fortunately, it happened at 4 a.m. EST, but it could have had massive implications for apps running on this cloud during peak hours. While there are ways for outages to be mitigated, you cannot control and prevent issues with Internet assets that you cannot see.

The customer experience depends on the best Internet performance
As customers continue to raise the bar on their expectations for a fast, seamless digital experience, it puts even more pressure on companies to do what it takes to provide the infrastructure that will support that. And the best Internet performance simply isn't possible without insight and control into Internet-based assets.

Many IT execs are now embracing an Internet performance management approach that underpins the digital supply chain, ensuring online infrastructure is working properly regardless of demand, geography or time. As the Internet grows in complexity and as more tech advancements are tied to consistent, reliable and latency-free Internet performance, there will be very little room for error in delivering on the brand promise that users expect from all companies -- from Internet-natives to retail, finance, app and gaming companies and beyond.

Internet performance management must be a priority for those companies hoping to keep customers loyal and engaged wherever they may be and however they may be accessing your company. Your future depends on it.

— Kyle York, Chief Strategy Officer, Dyn

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