Website Speed and Performance: Why It’s Important

The importance of website performance is paramount to the experience of the end user. Every visitor to your website is a potential customer, and customers do not like waiting. Even Google, the search ranking behemoth, factors website speed in its algorithm; in other words, your site performance affects how high your webpages will appear in the SERPs (search engine result pages). Studies also suggest that operating costs are lowered when care is taken to optimize site performance. Google’s Page Speed and Yahoo’s YSlow are fantastic detective tools to run a website speed test in order to get an idea of how slow or fast your site is to start. The following are some helpful, basic ideas for maximizing the responsiveness of your website.


If you place JavaScript and CSS code in external files, the user’s web browser can cache these external resources — they won’t have to be requested on subsequent page views. Instead of inline code, remember to use external files.


If your code is repeatedly connecting to a database to load certain content, implement a caching system to avoid this overhead. Your CMS (content management system) may already have an easy way to do this.


If you have one large image that appears in multiple forms as thumbnails, do not serve the big original file and rely on the browser to downscale it. Do all image resizing server-side; this decreases bandwidth consumption and increases responsiveness.


This should be a no-brainer: Do not serve images that stand in for text. Serve text whenever you can. Fancy custom fonts are still possible; learn about the @font-face rule.


Whenever possible, put your scripts at the end of the webpage. This lets the web browser render the page before getting busy processing the JavaScript.


Remember to place CSS code in the webpage’s HEAD section. This allows the browser to perform progressive rendering, increasing perceived performance for the user.


When coding, try to minimize the number of HTTP requests the browser will make after loading the page. Consolidate all scripts into a single script file, and do the same with CSS. Consider combining multiple images into one master CSS sprite.

Managing Your SLA Agreement: What You Need to Know

Services are constantly being expanded to third party companies in order for a business to remain as efficient as possible. One of the most common services that is outsourced is that of web hosting. Many businesses simply do not have the space, money, or technical experience to utilize their own servers and will, as a result, use a web hosting company to maintain their website. Before entering into such an arrangement however, it is important that they sign a Service Level Agreement. There are a number of steps that need to be taken in order for an SLA to be managed effectively.

1. Make Sure Everything Can be Quantified

One of the most important steps when signing a web hosting SLA and managing it is to ensure that all of the quantifiable services are being met. Constantly be checking to make sure that the services that are stated in the SLA, whether it be a certain amount of storage space, a certain length of time that any technical problems might take to be resolved, and the speed of the site are all measurable. This makes it easy to ensure that the agreements are being met. Another potentially big part of making sure that things can be quantified is taking the time to have an SLA management system in place. Whether you use something that’s free or paid, it’s a good idea to have third party data that’s actionable in order to bolster your case with your web host. If you don’t have any data, they may just say that you aren’t getting a refund, or you may have to use their data.

2. Have Regular Meetings

Having regular meetings with the company that is providing the services will allow a business to keep everyone involved in the SLA up to date regarding any developments. If a business feels that it is paying for speed that it is not receiving, or if the technical problems that are cropping up are not being solved within the time allotted by the SLA, then it is important to address the company regarding these complaints. The sooner these problems are brought up, the sooner they will be able to resolved. Productivity will be able to be maintained. It is important to take notes during these meetings in order to prove that any problems with the SLA were either addressed or not addressed. This makes it easier for one of the parties involved in the SLA to take action against the party that did not fulfill its role.

3. Follow Through on the Penalties

All good SLAs include measures that will be taken should either party involved in the agreement not be fulfilling its duties. Some businesses will choose to not pay for services if technical problems render servers unusual. Other SLAs will state that the company will react within a certain time frame should the issues not be resolved.

By carefully managing an SLA, it will be possible to ensure that it is as effective and respective as possible. It will also prevent either party that has signed the SLA from causing the other to lose money.

Exchange Server Monitoring – Best Practices

Microsoft Exchange plays an important role in the success of many businesses, especially considering how crucial e-mail is in getting things done. However, Exchange will only serve its purpose if it is running efficiently. IT professionals must employ the best practices in monitoring servers, including critical services and processes.

Although counters are useful in monitoring load and performance, they do not guarantee the availability of Microsoft Exchange. Yet Exchange availability is the most important thing for IT professionals to monitor.

Important Things to Monitor

In addition to monitoring counters, the following things must also be considered:

• The average number of synch requests-per-second, which help in verifying that mobile devices are always synchronized with Exchange server

• Current connections that make it easy to schedule maintenance when there are relatively few users, which means not many people will be affected

• Average response time that helps in determining how long users wait for information they request. As the time users spend waiting increases, they are likely to assume the server is down and then call for assistance

• Messages sent or delivered per second validate that users’ emails get delivered. Monitoring mail flow ensures the Exchange server is not being used to relay spam or that botnets have not compromised user’s workstations

• LDAP Searches timed out per minute: Failed searches mean there is a problem with the Active Directory, which may have a serious impact on Exchange

• Available virtual memory: If virtual memory gets too low, it can lead to different errors and other problems, including shutting down of the Exchange server

• CPU utilization monitoring helps in determining the amount of CPU used at a given time

• Free disk space: Running out of disk space can lead to problems like mailstore corruption

• SMTP Queue Growth: If the queue is growing, it means messages are not being sent. The same applies to X.400 Queue Growth

• Windows Service Monitor gives error messages if specific services stop

• Hardware: Some applications may fail to function correctly due to an underlying hardware problem. Unforeseen hardware problems can cause applications to stop suddenly

IT professionals should set up effective solutions for monitoring their Exchange servers. A good exchange server monitoring system does not only show possible problems but also what to do when an issue arises.