The Riverbed Blog (testing)

A blog in search of a tagline

Why Speed Matters

Posted by riverbedtest on September 15, 2011

In our series on Zeus Technology, we’ve spent the last few weeks introducing Zeus and demonstrating why its software-ADC will be a huge boon to the Riverbed community. With the benefits of soft-based ADC established, let’s consider why ADC’s end-game of accelerating and stabilizing web applications is so critical for businesses.

As a quick refresher, ADCs ensure that an organization’s online applications are up and running through its load balancing and traffic management functionality.  This is crucial for businesses that offer products and services online, because a simple one-second delay could result in seven percent fewer conversions, 11 percent fewer page views, and even a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction, according to recent article in ClickZ. And it’s not just conversions that are jeopardized by slow websites, last year Google incorporated Web speed into its search rankings algorithm, giving faster websites an SEO advantage. Considering the staggering amount of information on the Web (according to some estimates there are at least a trillion Web pages in existence) – companies should optimize their website for every possible competitive edge. 

But the bottom line remains: faster websites result in more sales. Case in point, earlier this year USA Today conducted a 15-month survey that reveals that many travel sites take more than two seconds for their home pages to load. While two seconds might not seem long, online shoppers expect pages to load in less than two seconds – and worse, 40 percent say they’ll give up on a site that takes three seconds or more to load, according to Forrester.  These are factors that Zeus customers take very seriously. In fact, when the hugely popular student travel website, STA Travel, realized just how much a slow website could hurt its sales, it sought to mitigate this risk with Zeus’ ADC.

STA manages more than 400 branches worldwide and over six million travelers each year use STA. Before incorporating Zeus, STA’s global users (especially those in Australia) experienced major latency (or lag time) when connecting to its UK-based data center. On top of that, if STA was running a travel promotion on its website and its traffic jumped significantly, the site would slow to a crawl and risk losing revenues. In those days, STA had a hardware-based ADC solution in place, which required a hefty investment to scale– especially if the added bandwidth was just for a short-term boom. So STA decided to look into open source options, but found they required too much configuration and lead time for set-up, making Zeus “the obvious choice,” according to Andy Mills, CIO at STA Travel Group.

“We had major issues with our website and know that customers won’t hesitate to go elsewhere if their needs can’t be met quickly and efficiently. STA Travel has built a reputation for being the one-stop shop for every student’s travel needs, so we need a high-performance website to match,” Mills points out.

After deploying Zeus, STA Travel noticed a 50 percent increase in its website performance and now has the capacity to handle just about any spike in traffic. And the solution cut the website load time for Australian visitors by half. 

“If Zeus hadn’t resolved our issues, we would have needed a new datacenter in Australia. So, without the need to buy additional hardware, duplicate licenses and recruit more technical staff, we have saved ourselves significant sums of money,” Mills adds.

It’s worth noting that Zeus isn’t the only new member of the Riverbed family that can optimize website performance. Aptimize, a web content optimization company, also joined Riverbed in July.  In fact, Zeus and Aptimize together form the new cornerstone of Riverbed’s asymmetric optimization strategy. For additional reading, we’d recommend looking at some nifty research that Aptimize recently did on websites with the fastest and slowest load times. You can download the paper here.

So yes, speed does matter – and Riverbed knows how to make it work for you.

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