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A View from Erica Naone

Google's New Service to Speed Up Your Website

The company’s Make the Web Faster Initiative speeds forward.

  • July 28, 2011

Google is pressing forward with its efforts to speed up the Internet. Early this morning, the company launched Page Speed Service, which is designed to automatically speed up Web pages when they load. The service intervenes between Web servers and users, rewriting a Web page’s code to improve its performance and applying other related tricks.

The service improves on previous offerings from Google. Page Speed began as a diagnostic tool and then as software that developers could install and configure for free. With every step, Google has increased the ease and automation of the service. This is in keeping with the strategy the company described to me when we discussed Google’s Make the Web Faster Initiative. I sat down with Richard Rabbat, a product manager for the initiative, and Arvind Jain, its technical lead:

The best solutions of all, Rabbat and Jain realized, would spread with as little human intervention as possible. As Rabbat puts it, “Instead of telling people what the problems are, can we just fix it for them automatically?”

In fact, Ram Ramani, an engineering manager for the Bangalore team that worked on Page Speed Service, emphasizes that Google is primarily interested in seeing faster websites, however that’s achieved. If people want to steal tricks from Page Speed Service, they’re more than welcome to it, Ramani says. The service is there, however, because in reality many developers have trouble maintaining good Web performance as sites grow and change.

Jain says, “Making your site faster should not become a burden to a developer.”

According to Joshua Bixby, president of Strangeloop, a Web optimization company, the service is important, but probably insufficient for enterprise customers. He wrote in a blog post:

Page Speed will be a handy resource for smaller sites with little to no complexity, whose owners don’t have developer time to pour into hand-tuning their sites, or the money to put into investing in an advanced performance automation solution. It fills an important gap in the market, and while it may not solve every performance pain, it should solve some — hopefully giving small business owners a chance to level the playing field by speeding up their sites enough to remain competitive in an increasingly brutal online marketplace.

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