June 2 2019

What do CNN, BBC, ESPN, Daily Mail, Forbes, USA Today, NY Times, The Guardian and our hostings have in common?

What technologies do the largest online news sites use? Here's what you should know.

The New York Times
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Since Google in 2018 imposed the almost obligatory transition to HTTPS, there have been some changes among the hosting providers that have not been able to make some caching technologies work as they do not comply with the new HTTPS protocol.

In truth what has been seen quite clearly is a transition from the good old and performing Varnish to the new LiteSpeed ​​+ LSCache.

Many Hostings have continued to position themselves with praising keywords Varnish hosting, Varnish Performance and the like but then in the end trimmed a Hosting with LiteSpeed ​​and LSCache.

Almost religious wars have emerged on Facebook groups, Newsgroups and the like, between those who showed part benchmarks of Litespeed and those who showed numbers and statistics obtained with Varnish Cache and between professional Hosting that even advised against Varnish as it is dangerous with a complex Cache management as reported by the obviously censored screen.

It must be said that the management of the Varnish Cache must be configured by a professional systems engineer with experience on these technologies and important impacts on other technologies such as AMP pages, Sitemap, Instant Article and so on, but advise against something just because you do not know how to use it or are not able to configure an automated and selective cache cleaning system arriving to think that there must be "a little man who clears the cache by hand every time“, Says a lot about how the hosting sector in Italy has been ruined and how much, albeit genuine improvisation, there is in the sector.

Varnish and HTTPS

Given that it is true that Varnish is absolutely not compatible with HTTPS as it lacks that "part" that allows HTTPS negotiation and cryptographic support, this lack should not be seen as a bug but rather according to its developer as a FEATURE as reported on the official website: https://varnish-cache.org/docs/trunk/phk/ssl_again.html#conclusion

 

The fact that it is not compatible by design with HTTPS does not mean that it cannot be used with HTTPS. It simply needs to be managed a HTTPS / SSL terminator such as Apache, NGINX, H2O or HAProxy.

This evidently created a difficulty in the study of some techniques and methodologies in the use of Varnish with HTTPS so we have seen what we have seen: hosting to extol LiteSpeed ​​as the best cache ever even better than Varnish and terrifying performance.

We obviously think diametrically opposite, that is Varnish has performance and a malleability in configurations that cannot in any way be comparable with that toy that is LiteSpeed. In our reality we see daily users with information portals coming from LiteSpeed, switching to our stack with Varnish cache and immediately finding relief as well as better performance, ranking and positioning from Google.

Having said that, as superpartes in intent, it can rightly be shared as a biased judgment, let's talk about the numbers and statistics of sites like CNN, BBC, ESPN, Daily Mail, Forbes, USA Today, NY Times, The Guardian, Wikipedia and sites that make over 5 billion hits a month.

Do you think these sites mentioned above use Varnish or LiteSpeed?

We used the site similartech.com which allows us to select sites based on the technology used and many other parameters, by selecting sites that use Varnish. In its free report limited to 10 records, we ran two searches, the first generic with no filters, namely sites that use Varnish, and in the other we set as category News and media

Here are the results:

Two facts are immediately evident: One of the most visited sites in the world like Wikipedia, uses Varnish, one of the most visited adult sites in the world uses Varnish, most of the most authoritative and widely read news sites in the world use Varnish.

The research is obviously limited to the first 10 records offered by similartech in the Free version, but we believe they are eloquent enough to show that Varnish is the choice of the market when it comes to working with high traffic sites.

LiteSpeed ​​who uses it?

Always with the intention of being the most superpartes possible, we used the same criterion above to do a search on similartech.com using LiteSpeed ​​as the search key of the technology used. The following are the results, both for the technology itself and for the technology filtered by application area (Industry Verticals) "News and media”(Exactly as we did for Varnish before).

As we can see, the largest site using LiteSpeed ​​is animeFLV and it gets 142 million visitors per month. Among the News and Media sites, on the other hand, there is no known brand like the ones mentioned above, at least known in the collective imagination as a brand like CNN or New York Times can be evocative.

LiteSpeed ​​VS Varnish specifically

As always reported by similartech.com at this address LiteSpeed ​​WebServer VS Varnish Varnish is the most adopted technology on the top 10 sites in the world and in the top 100. LiteSpeed ​​is the most popular among the top million sites.

Considerations

Maybe someone who wants to defend LiteSpeed ​​will want to quote the famous story of the VHS VS BETAMAX  where a worse technology like VHS can take over Betamax, objectively better in many ways, or that LiteSpeed ​​is too new compared to the much older Varnish.

Indeed LiteSpeed ​​was born way back in 2003 as reported by Wikipedia and Varnish even after in 2006 always by Wikipedia.

Or you might come to think that perhaps it is because the license is commercial and therefore expensive that it is not so widespread, but it is difficult to think that publishing groups such as those mentioned above do not have a few tens of thousands of dollars a year to manage the licenses if the game is actually not worth the candle. Maybe it's really not worth it, that's all.

Conclusions

 

Although LiteSpeed ​​WebServer is a performance oriented Webserver with an integrated cache like LSCache, it seems that it is neither a market standard nor that it tends to become one. Its growing trend as we can deduce it is due to the transition to HTTPS which has created the problem of having a Webserver with an integrated caching system alternative to Varnish. Being LiteSpeed ​​compatible with Apache .htaccess and its rewrite rules it makes a lot of sense to use it as an evolution of Apache itself. A hosting that offers LiteSpeed ​​to Apache is certainly a hosting that will be more successful and better performing than the now widespread but not too performing Apache.

However, it should be noted that LiteSpeed ​​is not the market choice for high traffic and high performance sites as we have seen above.

Of course someone could always object that LiteSpeed ​​is a WebServer and that Varnish is a static caching software, and that we should take a pure Webserver as a yardstick and comparison. 

Certainly the objection has its own reason and finally we try to compare a WebServer like NGINX with the same criteria used on similartech.com, that is a report of those who use NGINX in the News and Media sector.

What emerges from a comparison between pure Web servers such as NGINX is that we find the same old names and gigantic brands such as BBC.CO.UK, BBC.COM, FOX NEWS, NY TIMES, which once again suggests how NGINX along with Varnish are a perfect match, the match to beat that for now dominates the market for high traffic websites.

What do we use?

By managing portals that make tens of millions of visitors per month up to hundreds of millions of pageviews per month it is obvious and obvious that we try to constantly improve in finding and adopting the best and most performing solutions.

However, for about 5 years we haven't been able to find a better software stack than nginx, Varnish, Memcached and REDIS.IO with support ElasticSearch for searches. Any other solution tested has proved largely not up to the stack that we use and used by the most important world news sites.

This stack has allowed us to achieve important milestones for other important clients referred to in addition to the client with 85 MILLION visitors per month, (of which you can see the analytics below) we add another one with over 33 million pageviews per month immediately after.

Another court-registered publishing site that generates millions of hits per month and over 30 million page views:

 

 

Do you have a high traffic site, a newspaper or a blog that requires the utmost expertise in systems and technology?

Do not let yourself be duped by many beautiful words and by marketing, entrusted by those who since 2005 host high traffic sites of the largest Italian companies using the best technologies on the market.

Contact us now!

 

 

 

 

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