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Wax On, Wax Off - what to do when your site is on the go-slow

You have a website, it’s hosted just down the road, and every time you browse the site it loads super quick, and everything is perfect. But have you thought about all your international visitors? Have you recently visited a site hosted across the other side of the world and found it took forever to load? If you have an internet or intranet website that’s getting hammered by site visitors, like Microsoft’s SharePoint site, you should ensure the best performance possible for such an important site. To help with this Microsoft has turned to a New Zealand company called Aptimize.

Aptimize has an offering that improves performance of website and it works for basically any site regardless of technology, and it has been specifically tuned for SharePoint 2007. It’s great to see another New Zealand technology company taking to the world stage! Welcome to the Aptimize Website Accelerator (WAX).

So how good is it? I’m based in New Zealand, just on the edge of the map and the Microsoft SharePoint site is hosted half way around the world in the United States, which makes it great for me to test WAX against. Using two of my favourite tools, Fiddler2 and YSlow to capture the results, I load the site up fresh and then do it again using a refresh to get the initial load results and then the refreshed results, which are usually better since the browser caches a couple of items for you.

WAX can be easily turned on and off on a per request basis. Here are the results of WAX turned on versus WAX turned off.

Fiddler2 Results

With WAX turned on, the user needs less bandwidth and less time to see the site and the site host also uses less bandwidth. The reason I’m putting so much emphasis on bandwidth usage is because here in New Zealand internet users are charged for both download and upload traffic, so any reduction in both is very good news for the wallet.

YSlow Results - WAX OFF

YSlow Results - WAX ON

The YSlow results are similar to Fiddler2. The grade has improved two grades from an E to a C grade. The explanation also hints at the reduction in bandwidth usage through the application of WAX. The image shows that the number of external Java Scripts, Style Sheets and background images has reduced. This is not because they have suddenly gone, but because WAX combines the files into one.

When building a website from the ground up as a developer, we need to be aware of what we can do to optimise the performance of the site, which includes all the things WAX does. However when working with an Out of the Box (OOTB) solution such as SharePoint it is very difficult to retrofit many of these performance improvements. This difficulty also makes it a very time consuming exercise for a developer to improve performance, and we all know time is money!

WAX is the plug and play solution to days – even months – of fiddling, testing, tweaking and more testing to squeeze  that extra little bit of performance out of your site. For a complete list of the benefits WAX includes, check out http://www.aptimize.com/benefits.

When it comes to building SharePoint solutions, for me it’s a no brainer to include WAX as a standard offering. The performance gain from the WAX solution would cost far more to implement yourself and the cost savings from bandwidth alone over the long term should be more than enough of an argument to seal the deal.

Here at Intergen we recommend it for all web-based implementations.

*Disclosure: Aptimize is partly owned by the same parent company that owns Intergen.

Posted by: Johannes Prinz, Developer | 07 October 2009

Tags: Aptimize, WAX, website performance

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