Understanding how to improve the performance of your web app or OTT stream within specific geographies or on specific networks is no small matter. There are many variables that can impact that performance. But of all of the things you can do, reachability to your CDN(s) is perhaps the most important. Seventy five percent of the latency in a page load is outside of the data center. In other words, if want to impact your performance, figure out how to reduce the latency outside the cloud, data center or Content Delivery Network (CDN) where your app lives.
The good news is that there are actually ways to do this. But to understand them you have to understand how the internet is architected. So let me digress for a second.
See the picture above. It represents the internet. There are more than 50,000 networks that make up the internet. Some of them are end-user networks (or eyeball networks) and many of them are middle mile and Tier 1 networks that specialize in long haul. How they are connected to one another is one of the most important things you should understand about the internet. These are called peering relationships, and they can be paid or unpaid depending on the relationship between the two companies. The number of networks crossed to get to a destination is referred to as hops. These hops are the basic building blocks that Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) uses to select paths through the Internet.
As you can see in the picture above, if a user were trying to get to the lower cloud instance from the ISP in the upper left, it would entail four hops, whereas the getting there from the ISP in lower left would only make three hops. But that does not mean that the lower ISP has a faster route. Because of outages between networks, lack of deployed capacity or congestion, the users of the lower ISP might actually find it faster to traverse the eight-hop path to get to the upper cloud because latency is lower via that route.
Why is the last mile important? Because it is precisely these ISPs and networks that are often the best places to look to improve performance – not always by just increasing bandwidth from that provider, but through intelligent routing. It’s also important because it’s where the users are and if you run a website, you probably care about where your users are coming from. In this sense, it’s not just what geographies they come from, but it’s also what ISPs they come from. This information is crucial to be able to scale your service successfully. It’s also where your users are actually experiencing your sites performance. You can simulate this with synthetic measurements, but there are many problems with this type of simulation. Last mile RUM measurements are important for exactly these reasons.
Understanding the architecture of the Internet is important for trying to understand how to improve your performance.
And Real User Measurements are the key to understanding the internet because they actually show real performance of your site from those geographies and networks. You can download my newest eBook for free to learn about the last mile of RUM.
So the last piece of this puzzle is understanding that different content delivery solutions (clouds and CDNs) have different strengths and weaknesses geographically and from a peering perspective.
But what if you could take the best performers in each geography and network and not play any games trying to figure out how to do it? There’s no Tetris involved in Cedexis’ solutions. We allow you to route traffic to the best performing public infrastructure for every user no matter what geography they are coming from or what network.
We don’t play games. You should not either – at least with your web and app performance.