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10/12/2011
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Web 2.0 Expo: Yottaa Accelerates SMB Websites

Yottaa's Site Speed Optimizer promises new pep for companies that find Akamai out of reach.

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Yottaa launched its Site Speed Optimizer, a cloud service for website acceleration, into general availability Tuesday at the Web 2.0 Expo, a UBM TechWeb/O'Reilly Media event in New York.

Yottaa, which previously had released a free Web performance monitoring and testing service, is now turning its expertise into automatically accelerating websites. Site Speed Optimizer uses website acceleration techniques such as minification, which compacts HTML, JavaScript, and cascading style sheets (CSS) code by eliminating whitespace, comments, and any other baggage that's not absolutely necessary to deliver to the user's browser. Multiple JavaScript files can also be compressed into one, and the same can be done for CSS. In some cases, multiple images can also be combined using CSS sprites. Many of these techniques draw on research by Google's Steve Souders, who has written several books on frontend engineering for high performance websites.

Individual Web developers tend to "hit a point of diminishing returns" when trying to apply these techniques to their own sites, Yottaa founder and CTO Bob Buffone said in an interview. Yottaa can pour in the effort required to achieve every incremental millisecond of improved site download speed because it is doing so for many customers, he said. Website owners have the ability to disable minification of assets that might not work well with the process, and Yottaa tries to identify that code automatically--for example, JavaScript variables that are personalized, Buffone said.

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Site Speed Optimizer is implemented as a proxy to the source website, performing optimizations on the fly and using techniques targeted at each browser, browser version, and device. For example, if the browser is Chrome, it takes advantage of Google's SPDY protocol to improve the speed of content delivery over what's possible with the Web's standard HTTP protocol.

Buffone said Yottaa doesn't consider itself a content distribution network (CDN) in the mode of Akamai. Although Site Speed Optimizer does some geographical caching of content, the focus is on optimizing the content itself, he said.

The question is irrelevant to most of the small to midsize businesses (SMBs) Yottaa is targeting, "for most of whom something like Akamai is out of reach," Buffone said.

Site Speed Optimizer is available as a free trial, with subscription plans that start at $29 per month.

"Web content optimization (sometimes known as frontend optimization) automatically encapsulates technical best practices for website design, improving not just page delivery but also the speed of page rendering in the browser," Lydia Leong, research VP at Gartner, said in a statement. "A combination of Web content optimization, edge caching, and network optimization is necessary in order to deliver optimal performance for websites. Next-generation content delivery networks have begun to combine all three types of optimization into a single service, and a cloud-based approach to delivering such services can make them accessible to businesses that have not previously been able to afford a CDN or have not found a CDN to be cost-effective."

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