University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I just came across this article today, and was wondering if anyone has had any experience with a service like this:

 

http://thenextweb.com/industry/2011/06/07/cloudflare-a-website-secu...

 

If someone wants to make our site twice as fast and a lot safer for free, I'd be inclined to let them as long as they're reputable and reliable.  I'm not planning on throwing our entire .EDU domain to them this minute, but I'm keeping my eye on them.

 

Anyone have any thoughts? Warnings?

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I'm going to start looking in to this as well, partly out of curiosity, partly because I think we'd really benefit from it for a number of reasons. One thing that bothers me is a lack of a good explanation of exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it. I mean, I know they are reputable and I get the gist of the service, but I want some actual details.

 

My basic understanding is that they are just a cloud based/distributed cached proxy. Except they don't seem to be caching the core HTML, just your "hard" files like images, CSS, and JS.

You may also want to check this out (I believe they just launched this at the beginning of this month):

 

     http://code.google.com/speed/pss/

 

They let you test how much difference it would make on your site:

 

http://www.webpagetest.org/compare

 

I just installed Cloudflare on my personal website. My website doesn't get much traffic so I can't judge too much yet, but it does seem to load faster. I do have one issue with Cloudflare messing up one of my scripts though, but I think that can be fixed.

I'm interested in this for my edu site but was curious if any other colleges used Cloudflare. I emailed their support and they are looking into it for me.
Yeah, I caught them on Twitter and the guy there said he would look into any schools that might be willing to talk about it. So apparently there are definitely schools using the service.

Interesting stuff...though I do have to politely complain about CloudFlare just a little bit related to image optimization.  As with any service touting a faster browsing experience, I have a hard time understanding why they cannot properly optimize the image files on their site.  I randomly picked two images from their Overview Page:

https://www.cloudflare.com/media/images/core/cloudflare-logo.png

https://www.cloudflare.com/media/images/overview/illustration.jpg

 

In about 30 seconds per-image, I had their logo .png file down to 6.32 KB (25% smaller), and their overview illustration .jpg down to 77.5 KB (~35% smaller), while actually DECREASING universal compression being applied to that .jpg from 6% to 2% (for less image degradation resulting from future edits/saves)!

 

Not sure if Ning will mess with those images/sizes as I embed them into this reply, but trust me, those images are 25-35% smaller, with no discernible difference in on-screen appearance.

 

Of course, I still wonder why most/all web developers don't take the time/care to properly optimize their image content in-general...as it's hard to visit any web page on the 'net (from some random blogger up to some of the most prestigious universities in the world) and not find ample low-hanging fruit!  Google Maps/StreetView is about 30% heavy in all its millions of tiles as well...which drives me crazy.  

 

For folks who are selling a "faster internet" though, I pay even closer attention.  My own website portfolio imagery isn't as fast as it could be either (thanks to Microsoft and Zoomify and some required file formats/techniques I must use in order to utilize their tools)...but if webmasters would simply optimize the thousands upon thousands of images they are displaying in their pages, I'd be willing to bet that the reduction in download/display times and bandwidth consumption would rival that of a service such as CloudFlare.  COMBINE image optimization with a service like CloudFlare?  Now you're really talking!  :-)

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