Google Soups Up Apache With New Speed Module

Google on Wednesday released mod_pagespeed, a module for the Apache HTTP Server that will automatically perform various website speed optimization tasks.

This includes 15 or so on-the-fly optimizations.

Google claims mod_pagespeed reduces average page load times by up to 50 percent.

However, mod_pagespeed works only on Apache servers and is complex to deploy, according to Omri Iluz, strategic partnerships manager at Cotendo, which provides site acceleration services to website owners.

The Mod Squad

Google has released the mod_pagespeed module as open source for Apache for many Linux distributions. The module automates optimizations that are troublesome to do manually.

These optimizations include making changes to the pages built by content management systems (CMS); recompressing an image when its HTML context changes so only the bytes required are served; and extending the cache lifetime of the logos and images of users’ websites to a year.

The mod_pagespeed module changes CMS pages without having to make changes to the CMS itself. While it extends the cache lifetime of a website’s logos and images, users can update these at any time. The module is an addition to Google’s Page Speed tool, which gives website developers suggestions on how to speed up Web pages.

“In recent years, as the browser market has evolved and new browsers have emerged, website creators and developers haven’t kept up to speed in modifying their sites to work well with the new browsers,” Cotendo’s Iluz told LinuxInsider.

“YSlow and Page Speed check your website and come up with a list of actions you need to apply to your website to improve its performance,” Iluz added. “The technology Google released Wednesday is a layer on top of your code that, in addition to telling you what’s wrong with your website, fixes the problem.”

YSlow is a tool from Yahoo that checks websites to see where they can be optimized.

Google did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Nothing’s Easy

The mod_pagespeed module will make life easier for website owners because they won’t need to perform advanced configuration tasks on their Web servers, Ronni Zehavi, CEO of Cotendo, told LinuxInsider.

However, it’s complex and works only on Apache servers, Cotendo’s Iluz pointed out.

Cotendo worked with Google to enhance the module to handle massively scaled content delivery environments and deployment to multiple customers and in various configurations as a service.

“Your traffic goes through our global network, our service applies optimization in the cloud and we send the traffic back to you,” Iluz said. “You as the website owner don’t have to do anything.”

Cotendo on Wednesday announced the deployment of Page Speed Automatic, a new website code optimization service that uses the mod_pagespeed optimization engine.

This service automatically optimizes the code of HTML pages as they enter a content delivery network. It will optimize caching, reduce the number of data requests, and reduce the payload size of pages, among other features. These code modifications, when rendered within Cotendo’s network, can reduce image size by 20 percent to 30 percent and page load time by as much as 50 percent on top of the acceleration already achieved by Cotendo’s existing site acceleration services, including its Dynamic Site Acceleration Service, the company claims.

Go Daddy, Go, Jack up the Speed

Website host Go Daddy plans to implement mod_pagespeed for its 8.5 million customers.

“We know through interaction with our customers that high performance is a top priority,” Brian Krouse, senior director for platform R&D at Go Daddy, told LinuxInsider.

“A faster, snappier website is better for a customer’s online presence,” Krouse added. “That’s why Go Daddy is keenly interested in doing whatever we can to make it as easy as possible for customers to build high-performance websites.”

Go Daddy will offer mod_pagespeed through its Linux Shared Hosting platform to its customers worldwide.

However, the website hosting company has not yet fixed a date when the service will be rolled out, Krouse said.

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