In this article we'll go into -
• What is the Alibaba Cloud Global Accelerator?
• The Benefits & Limitations
• How Chinafy works with Alibaba Cloud to optimise websites for China
• How to improve your website for performance in China
Alibaba Cloud Global Accelerator is a network acceleration service provided by Alibaba Cloud. Primary use cases include business applications or gaming platforms that may have distributed hosting with requirements for low-latency and edge location routing.
Learn more about Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) vs Global Accelerators
To answer why your site may still be slow after using Alibaba Cloud Global Accelerator, we first have to ask these questions -
What is your use case?
What are the benefits & limitations of the Alibaba Global Accelerator?
Note: In this article we use the example of Alibaba Cloud Global Accelerator but the information can be similarly applied on a high-level to other Global Accelerator products by a number of cloud providers that offer similar services.
The Alibaba Global Accelerator improves performance for applications outside of the HTTP protocol by proxying packets at the edge to applications running in one or more regions.
As a result, it is a good fit for non-HTTP applications such as IoT (MQTT), Voice over IP, and Gaming (UDO) that may have applications distributed over one or more availability zones.
While the Alibaba Global also leverages Alibaba Cloud's network of edge locations, similar to a CDN, it does not shorten the route for data delivery by caching and delivering content closer to the end user.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) improve performance for both cacheable content (e.g. assets like videos and images) and dynamic content (e.g dynamic site delivery and API acceleration).
This means that if you are leveraging Global Accelerator to optimise a website or web application, it’s possible that you are not optimising all possible assets for the fastest possible delivery to your end users.
Let's say that you are using a CDN and or Global Accelerator for the appropriate use case and that you've optimised assets on your domain. You still have third-party libraries libraries, plugins, embeds used by your site that aren't optimised at all.
There's still a major gap that both these products don't solve when it comes to China that can be impacting performance.
90% of websites don’t work in China off-the-shelf because China’s internet ecosystem is simply different to the rest of the world. As a result, the technologies or web resources that they use are either blocked in China, or slow in China impacting both the loading times as well as the usability of a website or web application.
These incompatible resources sit on the Human-Computer Interaction layer, also known as the Application Layer. The Application Layer is not to be confused with the colloquial use of the “applications” .
Yes, I agree - this can all be a little confusing, but bear with me.
Blocked, incompatible resources that impact overall performance and a China visitor's ability to interact with a website sit on the Application Layer.
Neither CDNs nor Global Accelerator products touch the Application Layer.
See the problem?
CDNs and Global Accelerator may help to accelerate components of a website, but they don’t optimise components on the web resource level. Blocked resources remain blocked and a hindrance to the end user’s experience in China.
You may ask, "what if I just remove or replace blocked resources like Google and Facebook?
Well, it's not quite that simple. There are often hundreds of resources on a website that are blocked or slow in China - each requiring a different best practice. Some may require re-hosting, others proxying, others replacement with a China-friendly equivalent, and some removed all-together.
Even if you manage to modify these resources accordingly, the configurations that may be best performance practices for the Chinese internet ecosystem is not the best performance practices for the website outside of China. Meaning, you compromise performance elsewhere for the sake of China visitors and vice versa.
Plus, the state of these resources are in flux and changing daily.
That's where Chinafy comes in.
Chinafy specialises in optimising web resources for China to tackle that gap in the Application Layer.
Our platform is officially partnered with a number of Tier 1 Cloud providers - including Alibaba Cloud and AWS - because these products work in compliment to deliver a faster, fuller, more consistent web experience to end visitors in China.
By combining Chinafy's Web Resource Optimisation suite with its fully managed near-China CDN stack, you can address performance across both speed and functionality across your website or web application.