Expanding into new markets, especially in countries like China, can be a challenging task for businesses. Technical, cultural, and regulatory barriers can present a daunting task to overcome.
Most companies first encounter the issue of web performance in China by accident.
It’s quite understandable too, because the assumption for most web development companies is that when a website is live - it just works, the same, everywhere. That is, unless the domain’s been blocked explicitly, which would only be the scenario for the few that made headlines for being blocked.
Unfortunately, those assumptions are just not true when it comes to China.
Most websites are accessible in China, but perform terribly across both speed and functionality.
In this article, we will focus primarily on the nuances between Chinafy and CDNs, as they’re both related to web performance but differ substantially in the areas of web performance they manage.
If you would like more context, we would highly recommend first reading the article about why websites don’t work in China here.
To tackle these hurdles, companies can look towards website optimization platforms or content delivery network (CDN) providers that specialize in China. In this article, we will compare two such providers - Chinafy and Fastly - to help businesses make an informed choice.
Chinafy is a China website optimization and compatibility platform helping address performance and deliverability issues for websites in China.
Chinafy is based on several key technologies and strategies to optimize website performance in China. These include:
China Website Compatibility: Chinafy is the only platform that identifies and resolves issues stemming from third-party resources on a website, when accessed from China.
Content delivery network (CDN): Chinafy leverages both onshore* or fast near-China CDNs for additional acceleration of website content delivery, ensuring faster load times and better website performance for Chinese users. Users have the option to use their own CDN, select from Chinafy’s partners or have Chinafy entirely manage the process and select whichever CDN is performing best at a given time. Learn more about Chinafy vs. CDNs.
Web performance optimization (WPO): Chinafy employs a range of techniques and tools to optimize website performance, including compressing images and other files, minifying code, and improving caching.
Localization & Marketing: Chinafy offers localization and marketing services to help businesses translate and adapt their website content to better resonate with Chinese audiences via their growing ecosystem of verified expert partners whose services include Baidu Paid Ads, WeChat development, and more.
*Onshore CDNs are only available to companies that fulfil the local requirements, including an ICP license.
Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) and edge cloud platform that provides businesses and developers with a global infrastructure for delivering digital content, applications, and APIs.
Fastly operates a network of servers located in various regions around the world, which are strategically placed at the edge of the internet to minimize the distance between end-users and the content they are accessing. This approach enables faster delivery and better performance of websites and applications, regardless of where users are located.
Fastly's edge cloud platform also offers a range of features and services designed to help businesses optimize and secure their digital content and applications. These include content caching, real-time analytics, load balancing, DDoS protection, and more.
Fastly's customers include some of the world's largest and most innovative companies in various industries, including ecommerce, media and entertainment, gaming, and technology. Fastly's platform is often used to support mission-critical applications and services, such as online video streaming, live event broadcasting, and mobile app delivery.
Some CMS platforms that automatically use Fastly as their default CDN include
Webflow, which uses Fastly in conjunction with Amazon Cloudfront 1
Fastly, however, has its limitations in terms of performance results when accessed from China.
Fastly customers with origins outside of China may experience up to 50-70% latency for their end-viewers in China versus customers using Chinafy either in combination with rim delivery leveraging the Fastly global network or Chinafy’s de facto CDN stack leveraging several providers.
Fastly does not have any Points of Presence (PoPs) in China. They have seven rim PoPs near-China in Asia as of 2021.
While Chinafy and Fastly CDN are both related to serving content for China visitors, enterprises use them together to achieve even better results. By leveraging the strengths of each solution, businesses can optimize their websites for China and ensure a seamless user experience for Chinese consumers.
Are you unsure which Fastly plus Chinafy solution is right for you?
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Enterprises already using Fastly's global CDN services who want their web properties to perform better inside and outside of China without setting up a new instance inside China or building a new version of their website(s)
Enterprises who want to leverage Fastly's other features
Enterprises who want to use Chinafy but wish to “go-live” with their own CDN. More on that below.
Companies and agencies building with Webflow
Companies and agencies building with Shopify
Enterprises that use Chinafy can opt to "bring-your-own-CDN," including continued use of Fastly. This allows for third-party resources and functionality to be managed by Chinafy, while primary resources can still benefit from Fastly's CDN, whether it be global or onshore in China, depending on the business needs of the company.
The performance difference between the offshore and onshore set-up is negligible, so the choice ultimately depends on a company's preference.
To implement Chinafy and "go live," geo-ip-based routing needs to be enabled on the DNS or CDN level so that visitors from China can access the Chinafy-optimized version of the site, while non-China visitors bypass that experience entirely. Setting this up typically takes no more than 15 minutes.
This is a Chinafy configuration diagram for Fastly users:
Serving content in China is a complex endeavor that requires businesses to overcome various technical, regulatory, and cultural barriers.
Chinafy & Fastly CDN are different solutions that work well in complement to each other
By integrating Chinafy with Fastly's CDN, enterprises can overcome these challenges and optimize their websites for Chinese audiences while ensuring high performance, security, and control over their technical infrastructure.
Get a feature-by-feature comparison of Chinafy vs. CDN solutions to understand how they are used together.