Thoughts on why speed matters as Fastly hits 1 Tb/second of bandwidth
We launched Fastly in July 2011 with seven employees and a mission to make web experiences faster. Four years later, Fastly has 240 employees (and growing), five offices (including a newly opened office in Denver), 26 global points of presence (POPs), and powers tens of thousands of websites.
We recently hit a new milestone — 1 terabit per second of bandwidth. Every day, we’re handling about 5,500 terabytes or:
122 times more data than the Hubble Space Telescope has ever collected
10.5 times more data than the Library of Congress has in total
55 times more traffic than the whole internet had in 1993 (source)
To put that number into perspective, the earliest record we have is from May 2012, when we were at 2.09 Gb/second, and it’s been doubling every six to nine months since.
We’ve also added new POPs on two continents. One is in São Paulo, Brazil, our first point of presence in South America, which reduces latency for customers whose traffic we’ve been serving out of Miami. We’ve also spun up two POPs in Australia — one in Brisbane and one in Perth — ensuring better response times for the entire continent.
New features, a larger network, and increased capacity have all contributed to our growth — but a majority of the credit goes to our customers, who share our dedication to high quality web experiences. We’ve watched them launch new products, redesign their websites, move into new markets, and prepare for high-traffic events, and we’re honored to be supporting them along the way.
As we’ve grown, so have our customers. We’re seeing that speed, agility, and performance are more critical for businesses of all sizes than ever before.
Speed is survival
Countless studies reinforce the underlying importance of performance. There’s a direct relationship between a site’s bounce rate and page load time — as load time goes from .5 seconds to 1.5 seconds, you lose twice as many users. Drop off is pretty dramatic because users don’t like to wait. There is also a direct correlation between performance, user engagement, and revenue (including Google’s 20% revenue drop due to a half-second delay) — higher engagement means more brand value.
Why are things slow?
Latency, the amount of time between a request starting and the first data arriving, kills any kind of interactive experience you’re trying to deliver to your users. Unfortunately, the nature of latency is constrained by physics; at the moment, we are limited by the speed of light.
It sounds fast, but 150 milliseconds for data to go back and forth adds up — and, the farther away your users are, the more they’ll experience that delay. Every millisecond counts against how people perceive your site performance and interact with your brand.
Mobile users are even less patient for a page to load, and slow load times can hurt mobile commerce; one study showed that just a one-second delay resulted in a 27% drop in conversions. As more internet users adopt mobile devices (by 2020, four out of five people will own a smartphone), it will become even more important for companies to provide exceptionally fast online experiences.
And, as the Internet of Things (IoT) gains traction, companies will want to think about distributing data to these devices in real time. I recently visited Tokyo for SoftBank World, where a group of robots, named “Pepper,” were exhibited. These robots send lots of data back and forth via API. Speed and real-time operations are essential when the IoT is designed to process information as fast as (if not faster than) humans.
How to fight latency
You can combat latency by reducing the physical distance between your users and the information they’re requesting. This is largely why I founded Fastly.
One of our missions is to fully operate at the edge, and lower our customers’ total cost of ownership. There are various benefits around operating closer to the user, such as allowing you to absorb spikes in traffic (due to either DDoS or a sudden rise in site popularity) without performance degradation. Fastly helps extend your application to the edge, paving the way for growth, and provides a layer that lets you beat the speed of light.