By Keith Neubert, Senior Vice President at Bayshore Solutions
As a marketer you may or may not care where and how your site is hosted, but you should. Care about site speed? Worry about redundancy? Scalability? Your users do, so does Google.
Often times we take for granted, after the website design and build, that hosting it seems to be just ‘flipping the switch on.’ The reality is – in order to make it appear that way and stay that way – lots of planning goes into the process. For all that goes into it (a project in and of itself) could be the topic of several blogs but for today we wanted to share some updates on how Bayshore Solutions, Sitefinity, and Azure are working to make our applications more capable than ever.
As a quick catch-up for those that aren’t aware – the Progress Content Management System (CMS) Sitefinity is an enterprise class “engine” that runs your website (to over-simplify it). It manages the pages, images, content, etc. that are needed to deliver your message online to your customer.
Their latest release, version 9.0, further embraces the hosting technologies that allow you, the marketer, to make the best decisions for your site based on your needs, not limitations.
Microsoft Azure offers a wide variety of service options, but to keep it brief we’ll point out a few that Sitefinity Azure Cloud hosting includes that are very important to consider for any website.
Blob File Storage
What is it? Many modern websites pull their content, including images, from databases. While this can be appropriate in certain situations, often times it isn’t scalable and doesn’t provide the best performance. The file system is usually the next storage area considered. However, the reality is that drive storage in a website environment can be at a premium. The drive, just like your computer, is running an operating system and has ‘other’ things to do in addition to its duties running your website. Insert the Blob. The Blob storage offering from Azure is a storage service specifically designed to store your images and files in a more efficient way than the file system. These efficiencies come in a few forms: speed, redundancy, and scalability. They can be dynamically expanded for more storage capacity, both locally and geo-redundant.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A service you might be more familiar with is a CDN. In short, for the same reason giants like Amazon have several distribution centers around the country to ship product, you would consider a CDN to ship your website data. No reason to send a website file across the country! Instead, leverage a CDN to do the work for you. These are networks optimized to read your static files and cache them into their networks and then, when a user calls for them (via your website), serves them from the quickest location to the user. They are optimized for these types of deliveries at a lower level as well. Where is one place you could point the CDN to pick up files? The Blob!
A very common way to handle increasing website traffic OR to increase reliability is to add more instances of your website. Just like at a call center, when a flood of calls comes in and it’s helpful to have several reps to answer the phone – in much the same way, your website can only handle a certain amount of traffic until visitors in the queue start waiting too long. Unlike a call center, it’s up to 3 seconds (not minutes) that they are willing to wait. Is the amount of traffic not a huge concern for you? What if that call center rep quits and walks off the job? How long will it take to serve your customers again? This scenario is just as applicable to your server going down. Yet another reason to have more than 1 instance of your site running (or ready).
On the surface this may seem simple, but once again the reality is usually much more complex. To spare you the deep technical issues that can arise in this setup, let’s just say that there are extra steps that need to happen. You need to make sure that, as users potentially go back and forth between the instances, the ‘other’ server knows what they were doing. Think e-commerce. A user puts a few items in their cart. Then on a subsequent request they are bumped to another instance of your site. Perhaps the first one went down for maintenance or crashed. If that second instance doesn’t know what the customer was doing on the first instance, well now their cart is empty.
Luckily, Azure and Bayshore Solutions’ hosting services coupled with Sitefinity have solutions to all of the above. While it is true that many CMS offerings can support the areas we’ve touched on, Progress’ Sitefinity continues to show that they’re committed to making it easier for partners like Bayshore Solutions to give you, the marketer, options for the specific needs of your site and your business. Partner with the team that will make it look as easy as ‘flipping the switch on.’
For more information about Sitefinity, Azure, and Bayshore Solutions, please feel free to call 866.352.4791 or contact us today!