Web acceleration refers to speeding up the transfer of content between web servers and client browsers by using a variety of techniques such as caching and compression.
High-traffic websites must support hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users in a fast, reliable manner. To scale to meet such high volumes, modern computing best practice usually calls for adding more server hardware, which can become expensive. Web acceleration instead employs other methods to speed delivery of both static and dynamic content, enabling your web servers to handle more client requests without the need for more hardware.
One of the primary ways to accelerate web traffic is by using a load balancer or reverse proxy server to optimize HTTP traffic as it flows between clients and backend servers. Users access the web from a variety of devices – laptops, mobile phones, smart TVs, and cameras – over connections that vary widely in bandwidth. Content acceleration is important because the web server can have its resources tied up as the client is accepting and processing the data it has just received. This can create inefficiencies in server utilization and lead to poor performance for other users as well.
Through HTTP optimization techniques, the load balancer sits in between clients and servers, forwarding requests for content to backend servers in a streamlined and efficient manner that maximizes speed and server utilization.
Caching and Prefetching
Web acceleration servers can cache, or locally store, commonly requested information rather than fetching it over and over from backend servers, which wastes server resources and slows down content delivery. The web accelerator can refresh cached content at a specified interval to avoid serving content that is out of date.
The web accelerator can also prefetch and cache content that the user is likely to ask for, such as the next page of a document, making it ready for delivery as soon as the user requests it.
A web accelerator can compress large files, such as image or video files, to reduce transfer times.
Some advanced web accelerators can offload computationally intensive processing from backend servers, freeing them to serve content faster. A common example is encryption and decryption of documents during transmissions secured with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS).
How Can NGINX Plus Help?
NGINX Plus and NGINX are the best-in-class load balancing and reverse proxy solutions used by high-traffic websites such as Dropbox, Netflix, and Zynga. More than 333 million websites worldwide, including the majority of the 100,000 busiest websites, rely on NGINX Plus and NGINX to deliver their content quickly, reliably, and securely.
NGINX Plus was developed specifically to solve the speed limitations inherent in web applications and platforms. It combines multiple functions in one flexible, cost-effective solution for delivering static and dynamic content in a fast and reliable manner that boosts customer satisfaction and revenue: