No one really enjoys waiting for anything–particularly in today’s fast-paced world. That’s why the moments that pass between a user clicking a link to a website and seeing it appear in their browser can make or break the success of that site. These few crucial seconds (or milliseconds) are known as latency, one of the most important performance metrics in application delivery and network performance. If this is a new concept for you–or you simply want to know more about how to reduce latency–this article is for you.
What is latency?
Latency is the amount of time it takes for an action to execute once that action has been requested or triggered. For example, if a user is shopping online and clicks “Add to Cart,” latency is the time it takes for the item to appear in the user’s cart. While some delays may be due to factors on the user’s side, such as low bandwidth or outdated equipment, others are caused by the network or application.
- Network latency: the time it takes data to travel to and from the server responding to a request
- Application latency: the time it takes an application to execute requests within a server
Why is reducing latency important?
Today’s users are increasingly intolerant of any delays while using applications or browsing the web. As a result, long load times may cause users to abandon sites prematurely, leading to fewer page views, sales and conversions. In addition, Google factors latency into its SEO rankings, prioritizing sites that deliver a better user experience. Moreover, latency can limit a company’s productivity, making both employees and devices less efficient in completing tasks.
- Increases views, conversions, and sales
- Strengthens SEO ranking
- Improves the user experience
- Ensures more efficient work
Ultimately, reducing latency can have a huge impact on your bottom line, making it critical for businesses to keep network and application latency to an absolute minimum.
What causes latency?
Lots of factors can slow down data’s journey across a network—the same way that distance and speed aren’t the only factors affecting how long it takes to drive from one destination to another. For drivers, traffic, construction, the route taken, and any stops along the way can all cause delays; similarly, network congestion, poor equipment health, inefficient routing, and the number of hops (intermediate devices data must pass through on the way to its destination) can all increase network latency.
In addition, the larger a website is, the more these issues are magnified. That’s because personalized content, high-definition images, third-party applications, and video may require numerous trips to the server to load, resulting in an exponential increase in latency.
While many of the factors contributing to latency can be individually optimized, their impact can be significantly diminished by reducing a single variable: distance. Content delivery networks–or CDNs–reduce latency by caching data at strategic locations to shorten the trip to and from end users.
How does Azion reduce latency?
Azion helps reduce latency through edge computing. Edge computing is like a CDN in that it moves data closer to end users. However, unlike traditional CDNs, Azion’s Edge Locations combine data centers with an IT environment that can perform computing functions, such as your own code, caching dynamic content, accelerating APIs, or tailoring image optimization to various devices and browser types.
In addition, Azion maximizes the efficiency of content delivery through a serverless computing model. While it’s easy to understand why moving servers closer to users can reduce latency, figuring out how to do so can be a difficult task. Usage patterns can change over time in ways that are difficult to predict. Without clear-cut knowledge of when and how these changes will take place, businesses must choose between wasting money on underused resources or risk poor performance due to overloaded servers.
Luckily, Azion’s serverless computing provides a way to sidestep this headache. With serverless computing, companies pay only when applications run, eliminating the need to provision servers ahead of time. In addition, Edge Functions allow companies to break monolithic applications into discrete functions, each of which serves a specific purpose and automatically executes in response to events at the edge. Because these functions are small and lightweight, the processing time–and overhead–it takes to execute them is significantly diminished.
Serverless and edge computing are the perfect combination, making it easy for enterprises to minimize network latency by storing data and processing requests as close as possible to end users, without requiring companies to provision servers ahead of time. In addition, Azion’s Edge Platform provides a suite of products to improve security, provide observability, and ensure that applications and websites are running as efficiently as possible.