We have designed every aspect of our ULTRA hosting platform with pure speed in mind. We wanted to build a shared hosting solution that could run almost any website, and run it fast, but even more importantly do it without the cost of a dedicated server or expensive content delivery solutions. We often find talking to our customers that they have websites which they really need to be fast, perhaps it's a busy forum or an online store, but that customer doesn't necessarily have the finances for a managed server which can offer the level of performance that they require. What we've built is a shared hosting solution which is only slightly more expensive than our regular shared hosting and offers the benefits of an incredibly powerful dedicated server but without all the cost.
How much power?
So how much power and speed are we really talking? To be precise, we've taken the specification of our regular shared servers and multiplied them by four. Our ULTRA hosting servers feature 128GB of memory, 16 processor cores, and most importantly all solid state storage.
Solid State = Very Fast
The use of SSDs is the most important hardware difference between regular hosting, and it is a whole lot more than just 4 times more power, in fact solid state storage is over 150,000 times faster than regular storage.
The speed of the storage determines how quickly data can be accessed before being transmitted, so no matter how fast the connection to the internet, if the storage takes 5ms to find the image file being requested, it will always take at least 5ms plus the time to transmit that file to a visitors browser. 5ms may not sound like much, but if your website has 100 files to load then that is about 0.5 seconds of delay just to wait for the disk to find the file, and that is before it's even transmitted over the internet to the visitor. On a solid state drive the time to find the file is less than one tenth of a millisecond, so those same 100 files would only have a delay of 5ms for all 100 files. Obviously this is a rather simplified view of things, but the principle is there; solid state = very fast.
Shared yes, but not with many.
ULTRA hosting is still shared hosting, but it is no where near as shared as our regular hosting. Generally speaking, on our regular shared hosting you're looking at potentially sharing server resources with several hundred other websites, and with some of our competitors you could be sharing resources with thousands of other websites!
On our new ULTRA hosting platform, you are sharing with just 30 other websites at most. So not only do you have 4 times more power, you are sharing it with considerably fewer people.
Why do I need all this speed?
Ultimately, the faster your website loads, the happier your website visitors will be. If a website takes a long time to load, then they may get bored waiting and move along elsewhere, taking their business with them. Or if a forum is very slow, then people may stop participating which in turn will impact your advertising or other revenue streams. For many smaller websites speed is less of an issue, but once your website gets larger and becomes more popular, then speed and loading times are more and more of a concern.
The problem of course is that whilst your website traffic may be growing, your finances aren't necessarily growing at the same rate and so an interim solution is needed before you can afford to start buying expensive managed servers with dedicated hardware. That is where ULTRA hosting comes in.
The other consideration is that even if your website isn't particularly large, or you don't have a high volume of traffic, a faster website has the potential to be viewed more favourably by search engines. Google for example uses page speed as a scoring factor when indexing websites, a faster website will be indexed more favourably over say a slower competitive website. In fact, Google wrote a blog entry about it; https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
What this tells us is that wherever possible the speed of your website should be a serious consideration, where budget and time permit you should take steps to increase the performance of your website, and thus improve the user experience, as much as possible. Our ULTRA hosting is one very easy step to take in this direction.
Can a CDN accomplish the same thing?
Very often when talking with customers about ULTRA hosting whilst we were developing it, they would bring up the subject of CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). Many people associate a CDN with making their website faster, whilst this is true in some circumstance, it is not always true.
A CDN is useful for loading static content such as images from a server that is not only very fast, but also geographically close to the website visitor. Well, as you know, our ULTRA hosting is already very fast, so the main advantage that a CDN has over a single sharing hosting server is that it might be physically closer to your visitors internet connection. For example, if your visitor is in Sydney then loading the content from a server in Sydney is going to be faster than loading it from our server in London, even if the server is as fast as our ULTRA hosting.
But, what if your visitor is in Lincolnshire (our home county), what impact would using a CDN have then? More than likely none at all, or at least not enough to make any noticeable difference. In the grand scheme of things, the internet in the UK is very small and almost all ISPs take their customer's connections down to London before handing them off to the rest of the internet (although a very small number will go to Manchester or Slough instead). Most CDNs that have locations within the UK are in London, and even if they have locations elsewhere they almost certainly connect to the ISPs in London, Slough or Manchester. Our network is in London and Manchester, so if your website visitors are primarily based in the UK, then they won't haven't gained anything by loading some of the website files from a CDN because they could have just as easily got those files directly from our servers.
And don't forget, even with a CDN serving static, cacheable content like images, the dynamic things like the website itself must still come from the server, and so won't benefit from a CDN. A slower server will mean the page itself will be generated slowly, whereas our ULTRA hosting will make short work of even the most complex forum or online store with the 16 processor cores and 128GB of RAM that it has at it's disposal.
So yes, a CDN can speed your website up, but generally it has the most effect when your website visitors are spread across multiple counties. If you're predominantly UK focussed, then a CDN may not give much improvement, and even if you use a CDN, it won't improve the performance of some aspects of the website, because even with a CDN your hosting will have to do the hard work of generating dynamic content. In this regard, the more powerful your hosting the better, this is where our SSD based ULTRA hosting steps in.
Talk to us!
If you've got a website which you want to go fast, and are stuck in a maze of acronyms like CDN, SSD, and SEO, then give us a call on 03300 882130 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll happily and honestly discuss your options with you, even if that means recommending someone else.