Velocity Conference Boosting Online Performance Takes More Than Speed

By David Needle  |  Posted 2015-05-30 Print this article Print
Online Performance

Opera has 50 million users in India and more than 20 million in Indonesia among other countries where browsers are used predominantly on mobile phones. But despite the limited screens and cultural difference, Lawson said Opera's own big data analysis of its users shows pretty much the same breakdown compared with the United States when it comes to what they use the Web for the most—social media, search, YouTube, "uncensored information" and sports.

He says Opera has had great success with its "installable Web apps" because any changes to the apps are done at the server level so users always see the latest version, unlike native apps which have to be updated on the device. Opera is working on ways to improve the performance of its data compression technology (already considered to be among the best in the world) by 30 to 40 percent, Lawson said, while emphasizing that it's years away from being implemented.

He also gave a breakdown on where Opera's servers are located—which, with the exception of China, are typically not in the countries they serve. For example, Opera's servers for Africa are on the East Coast of the United States.

Opera has plenty of experience managing Internet traffic since it has processed more than 23 petabytes of data in just the past month. "It seems counterintuitive to have the servers far away because the conventional wisdom is that they need to be nearby," said Lawson. "But we don't find this to be true."

The reason is simple. Emerging economies have "grossly overloaded networks," and connections are very intermittent, he explained. Opera can actually provide faster, more reliable service from the other side of the globe in some cases.

Buddy Brewer, vice president of business development at performance analytics firm Soasta, said it's a mistake to think performance simply means speed, when in fact, performance means different things throughout an organization. "If you ask the finance department or engineering or sales, I bet you get a lot of different answers because they use different metrics to measure performance," he said.

"But if you look at how a user sees performance, the definition is very simple; they want to be able to go to a Website and get what they want."

He urged those in the audience to look at these different pieces of the performance puzzle to optimize performance because it's not just about speed when it comes to Websites. Other factors like bounce rate and conversions are also important.


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