While Buzzr still is used as the website and mobile platform for many small businesses and small orrganizations, the Buzzr Higher Education Edition CMS is for much larger sites, with hundreds of pages and tens of thousands of monthly visitors. So, to keep up with the demand of these larger sites, we’ve worked closely with our official hosting partner, Rackspace, to significantly upgrade our performance capabilities.
Our approach is three-fold: first, we’ve added ‘Varnish” as a front end caching tool. Varnish is a special program that saves copies of website pages in a “cache. A visitor gets served that page copy in an instant, rather than having to wait for the server with the actual web page. That saves a lot of time because with a dynamic CMS like Buzzr, loading a page require a fresh visit to the databases for every single visit, to check if new content has been added in any of the hundreds of pages. With Varnish, we don’t check quite as often, but the pages get served in a fraction of a second.
Next, we’ve added “performance servers” to our cloud configuration. This is the Rolls Royce of cloud servers, designed specifically for the fastest possible page loads.
Finally, we’ve added load balancers. Load balancers can almost instantly shift traffic between multiple servers depending on which server has the most capacity at the moment.
These efforts took many weeks of work from Rackspace and our own staff. We’re pleased to see public page load times typically faster than even large university websites built for millions of dollars.
Our next step, now in progress, is to revisit our database structure to pick up even more speed on the private pages used by our site administrators to create new content.