Short Takes: September 15, 2009

September 15, 2009 —  (Page 1 of 3)
Performance matters in a broadband era
As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room. The Internet connection here is so slow that it’s faster to do e-mail on my 3G phone than to try to use our company’s Outlook Web Services portal via a laptop browser and WiFi. Watching websites load on the overburdened hotel access is painful. While the wireless signal itself is strong, the hotel just didn’t buy a fast enough link to its ISP.

I remember a thread on Facebook a few weeks ago, where some friends were wondering which is worse: no Internet or bad Internet. It’s a tossup. At least if there’s no signal, you’ll go someplace else that has a better connection. If there is a bad signal, you’ll waste incredible amounts of time watching pages load, one pixel at a time.

Let me ask you: When was the last time you—and your development team—attempted to use your company’s public-facing Web resources via a slow communications link? Have you tried to browse your sites from a busy coffee shop? Forget about modems, I’m talking about the overburdened links that you’ll get at the Los Angeles Convention Center, at Starbucks, at a Hyatt.

What about your intranet resources? Perhaps your organization uses a VPN, or perhaps you have a secured Web portal protected by SSL and digital certificates. Does your team have the responsibility for creating and maintaining those resources? If you only access them via your internal LAN, with its Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop and 10-Gig switched backplane, then you have absolutely no idea what’s going on the real world.

Some of those remote problems, of course, are beyond your control. If the broadband is intermittent, there’s nothing you can do. However, do you sniff out the bandwidth to the client, and if it’s limited, suppress the loading of fancy graphics? Do you give users the option to view a non-Flash version of resources? Do you do any planning for a non-T3 client?

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