In the context of digital experience, instant response is the new norm: shaping users’ expectations and forming business imperatives. FinTech software is no exception to that new rule of thumb. Therefore, our engineering team at Code & Pepper is always on the lookout for tools and solutions that could give our clients the upper hand on the market. Taking Cloudflare for a spin fueled our appetite for more-than-optimal web performance: read on to see why.
Load time challenge
Digital businesses are made painfully aware that each second (in some cases: millisecond) affects user satisfaction. This means that slow-loading sites are dramatically more likely to be abandoned, while fast websites attract more visitors, who spend more time on the site. In the highly competitive market conditions, bounce rate is one of those few KPIs with direct link to the viability of your product.
The need for optimising performance seems the only logical countermeasure. However, while your development team is sweating away pimping up the front and backend of your product, external factors such as network conditions might nip their efforts in the bud.
CDN to the rescue
This is especially true for businesses with global coverage. Naturally, their mission is to provide efficient service to international users, regardless of location or device. It’s one of those cases when not only size (e.g. content density) but also physical distance matters. To be precise: the distance between the server where data is hosted and the recipient.
That’s where Cloudflare, with its network spanning over 180+ data centres, seems to offer a game-changing solution. Collaboration with global technology leaders (including investments from Google and Microsoft) means:
- more international expansion
- better support for mobile networks
- seamless integration (e.g. Microsoft Azure)
Under the hood
While it’s not the only company to offer CDN, the Cloudflare team made a smart move towards a bundle of complementary products. Full transparency, enhanced customisation and easy integration make Cloudflare’s proposition hard to resist, especially to tech-savvy businesses.
Kick the tires
If knowledge is power then accurate traffic analytics is like a boost blaster for your decision-making process. Precise data on bandwidth consumption, protocol performance and content type breakdown provide mighty insight. This means you are no longer in the dark when choosing protocols, technologies or content distribution strategies. When that data is available in real time (see: Cloudflare Analytics), debugging origin server issues can happen with minimal or zero downtime.
Keep it real
AMP Real URL is a free feature for pages built using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages): Google-initiated project for mobile web browsing. When enabled, it quickly retrieves AMP pages from cache and keeps the original page URL in the user’s browser (without the confusing opener: https://google.com/amp/). Domain name display is not only important for brand awareness but also simplifies web analytics and prevents content manipulation.
Being a software development company, Code & Pepper has a keen eye for all things ‘developer-friendly’. Cloudflare stands out among other CDN providers in terms of exceptional developer experience. It starts with configuration: you set up an account, register your domain and can watch load speed indicators go up before popcorn is ready. Detection of server conditions is automatic and integration with your product requires no changes in the code. And it doesn’t end there…
Operate in digital space long enough and you learn (often the hard way) that technical issues and cyberattacks are not only likely but inevitable. Cloudflare seems to offer a silver lining in the form of a full package of products and optimisations dealing with some of the most dire reliability and security issues.
Beat the traffic
Real-time experience and uncompromised uptime is critical for fast-paced environments (e.g. financial trading software). Sudden spikes in traffic or hardware failures can interrupt normal website function. However, with a CDN in place, they are no longer a threat to the continuity of service. Cloudflare’s machine learning intelligent routing tool (Argo) helps detect and avoid congestion. When paired with a cloud-based load balancing solution, you can:
- achieve dynamic distribution of traffic
- reduce latency
- ensure availability
Better safe than sorry
Although all the performance tools mentioned up to this point have built-in security features, Cloudflare does not rest on laurels. From improvements to security certificates and advanced DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) protection to WAF (Web Application Firewall) and reverse proxy products (Spectrum): the company seems to have a remedy for most pain points affecting modern cyberspace. For FinTech, it means easier regulatory compliance and lower cost of insurance against cyber attacks. And it’s just the beginning of potential savings.
Bang for the buck
Bandwidth consumption for website hosting is the primary expense for many digital businesses. Through caching and other optimizations, CDN can reduce the amount of data an origin server must provide, thus reducing hosting costs. Moreover, Cloudflare’s developer-friendly and all-inclusive product policy implies there is no need for additional hardware, software or staff allocation to mitigate performance and security risks. With some spectacular achievements in this area and the growing market demand, the company can afford to be generous. Basic version is free and already makes an impact.
Moment of truth
Waiting for the Internet connection to the hum and beeping of a dial-up modem is a distant memory to most mature users of cyberspace. Good luck explaining that ancient reality to Millennials… As far as modern digital products go, there is no place for field-fillers in the race for the ultimate user experience. With this in mind, web performance and security products offered by Cloudflare might not be perfect but come close enough to give them a serious thought.