Speeding Up SharePoint

SharePoint admins with intranets might be pardoned for not caring about page load times as much as admins with external-facing SharePoint internet sites. Then again, if your CEO is the impatient type, you might well care. Aptimize’s CEO Ed Robinson certainly cares.


“Google has come out and said ‘we’re changing search rankings based on website speed,’” says Robinson. When you compare the load times of websites on platforms such as Drupal to websites on SharePoint, Robinson says, “We see SharePoint running about the same speed.”


Websites on other platforms, such as DotNetNuke out of the box, he says, run slower than SharePoint. But slow is in the eye of the beholder: If a customer thinks your load time is too slow, well, the bottom line is, it’s too slow. To see what we mean, go to the companion post at Windows IT Pro.


Aptimize is out to level the playing field, whether with its Website Accelerator or, in the case of SharePoint sites, its new SharePoint Accelerator.


The strength of SharePoint is also its weakness, Robinson says. “So much functionality is provided by Microsoft that IT pros aren’t sure what they should control.” But load time is something you can control. Aptimize SharePoint Accelerator is a software solution that Aptimize says can speed up the load times of any SharePoint website or intranet, reducing page load times by 33 to 75 percent.


 Aptimize sits on the SharePoint front-end web server and optimizes the pages, packing multiple JavaScript files into a single file, packing multiple CSS files into a single file, and creating CSS spritesets from JPEG, PNG, and GIF images. Packing files significantly decreases the roundtrips between browser and server, reducing page load times. “People used to do this by hand. No one thought it could be automated,” Robinson says. “Until we automated it.” Automation can save two to three months of time, he says.


But customers get a taste of faster load times and want even more. Which is why the company is introducing two modes: Safe Mode and Expert Mode.


In Safe Mode, “it just works,” Robinson says, merging files and accelerating load times. “We put a lot of safeguards in to make sure that every page works properly in the browser.” In Expert Mode, you get the ability to configure the process. Where in Safe Mode the product might automatically merge 10 Java script files into five or four, in Expert Mode, you could choose, say, to merge 10 of those files into one, or specify the order they’re merged in.


Aptimize also improves Content Delivery Networks (CDN) performance, if you’re already using a CDN, he says.  A CDN accelerates a web application by optimizing network connections and caching web page resources closer to the end user. Frequently changing content (like newsfeeds) can be excluded from optimization or refreshed periodically. Aptimize SharePoint Accelerator runs on SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation, MOSS 2007, and WSS 3.0. It’s priced at various levels for small business and large enterprises. To learn more, see the (one would assume) fast-loading Aptimize website.

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