Citrix may not be the company that comes first to your mind when thinking about web performance or web companies. But if you look at its wide range of products and services, you’ll see that they do care very deeply about the web and how fast web services are for users.
Pingdom: Why is web performance such a hot topic right now?
Yannick: Poor web performance impacts customers’ experience, resulting in increased page abandonment and, as a result, potential loss of revenue and customer loyalty. While web and mobile sites have evolved in recent years with the latest technology to engage customers or drive sales, it is increasingly critical to provide fast and reliable site performance to ensure that websites always deliver to their audience.
Pingdom: There’s a lot of evidence that web users tend to leave a website if it loads slowly. Are users getting more demanding and impatient, or are there other reasons behind this?
Yannick: As people get more and more used to surfing on the Internet, their expectations of faster response times continues to grow. Benchmarks are typically being set by Internet leaders like Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, companies that leverage web acceleration solutions to deliver an increasingly speedy service to users. And their investment pays off, as research from the Aberdeen Group found recently. A research showed that the average impact of a 1-second delay meant a 7% reduction in conversions to sales for an online store. For an e-commerce site earning $100,000 per day, a one-second delay can mean up to $2.5 million in lost revenues over the course of a year.
Pingdom: Web performance involves a lot of testing and numbers. But at the end of the day, isn’t a user’s experience a personal and subjective experience? How do you reconcile the two?
Yannick: The best approach would be to benchmark performance and conduct a survey across different user groups. Compare the two and use the median as the targeted response time to gain a good balance. The challenge, however, is then to maintain a consistent performance even during peak connection times, which is exactly where networking solutions such as Citrix NetScaler play a fundamental role by offering the required level of scalability.
Pingdom: Could, at least part of, the answer to improved web performance for end users be tighter integration between the components involved, like hardware, software, networking, etc.?
Yannick: Yes, absolutely. We would typically look into leveraging mechanisms such as TCP protocol optimization, content caching, data compression, load balancing of multiple Web servers or SSL offloading to improve web performance for users.
Pingdom: What’s the relationship between web performance and scalability?
Yannick: Web performance is the raw speed of your application for a single user, for example, the time it takes for a single application-level operation. Scalability is commonly understood as the measurement of resiliency under an ever-increasing user load. Though these are two different concepts, their purpose is interwoven as we look at how many users can be served by the existing web infrastructure within acceptable performance parameters.
Pingdom: Best practice in mobile web performance isn’t as well established as in other fields like desktop. Are we getting closer to a sort of universal agreement or understanding of performance in the mobile space as well?
Yannick: The move to mobile is inevitable as both consumer and enterprise technologies venture into the mobile space. Growth of the mobile web installed base should stimulate further growth of mobile commerce. Expectations from mobile performance are ambitious. Although there are many more moving parts, bandwidth constraints and device limitations in the mobile application delivery chain, consumers often have the same expectations in terms of performance from the mobile Internet as from the connected desktop. While rich content is available in more and more websites, most carriers are looking at ways to optimize content delivery to reduce data consumption, and strive to maintain quality of service under different network conditions.
Pingdom: For someone who is going to start working with their website and performance, where do you suggest they start? What should they do first?
Yannick: The focus should start on enabling the infrastructure that will eventually support the website front end. We firstly recommend consulting a specialized organization such as Citrix on how to design a web infrastructure that will help them meet the level of security and performance they require from their website.
Pingdom: With everyone talking about cloud, it seems to be everywhere. What’s your view on cloud and web performance?
Yannick: People are driving cloud adoption with their increasing need for flexibility and mobility in the management of time between work and leisure. Companies that understand this growing trend and the needs of their employees will need to align their applications and content development solutions with this in mind. Some of the largest websites are already hosted by public cloud providers, and this delivers further proof that cloud and web performance are compatible in the long run.
Pingdom: What are we going to see happen in the next few years in terms of web performance?
Yannick: Consumerization of IT is the one of the biggest trends we can expect to see emerge in the next few years and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The mobile platform will drive a massive increase in traffic, which ultimately will impact the scalability and agility for web performance and compel organizations to design and strengthen their web infrastructure accordingly.
Pingdom: Finally, is there something exciting that you or your company is working on in terms of web performance that you can tell us about?
Yannick: As IT managers transform their traditional datacenters into enterprise clouds, bringing the infrastructure in line with the new trends in the market, they need real solutions that scale performance on-demand for cloud-like elasticity. These solutions enable businesses to expand capacity seamlessly to meet application traffic growth, as well as consolidate core network capabilities like load balancing, security and acceleration for all datacenter applications into a single platform.
Citrix has released TriScale technology to address these needs for enterprises and service providers that need multiple methods for scaling their network. With the TriScale technology, organizations of all types, sizes, and levels of cloud maturity can, for example, make the network elastic with 5x faster performance on-demand, replacing fixed-capacity appliances with flexible, software-based Pay-As-You-Grow licensing; seamlessly expand capacity up to 32x with advanced clustering technology and scale the number of applications and/or business units (supported by consolidating up to 40 NetScaler app delivery policies into just one NetScaler SDX platform).
About Yannick Kunegel
Yannick Kunegel is Citrix’s Regional Manager, Systems Engineering, for Middle-East & Africa. In his role he leads a team of Citrix Solution consultants who help organizations evaluate, test and design virtualization solutions. He has more than 15 years experience in IT across Europe and Middle East, with expertise ranging from desktop virtualization to high performance computing and storage from his Silicon Graphics days. Yannick has a Master Degree in Computer Science from the University of Nancy, France.
About the “10 questions about web performance” interview series
We have gathered some of the best and brightest minds in the web and IT industry to a discussion about web performance. Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out a series of interviews, bringing together people from web design, mobile and computer hardware, web hosting, software, and other areas. You can find all the interviews in this series on the Royal Pingdom blog.