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Faster! Faster! Faster!

Faster! Faster! Faster!

I'm proud to report that SYS-CON.com went live with the final release of CFMX 6.1 on its launch date, and we're still up and running, with flying colors. We've participated in the beta program, as I've written about in these pages before, and have had several builds running on our main and secondary servers throughout the whole process.

It's been quite exciting to participate in the program, watching each version improve in speed, stability, and features. The final release is one that the Macromedia engineers should be proud of, and I wouldn't hesitate to refer to it as one of the most significant 100% customer satisfaction-oriented software updates I've ever seen.

A lot has been said about the speed improvements in this release, and there are now some hard numbers and performance statistics to back up the obvious visual improvements in speed that those of us using it have been reporting. Quoting Ben Forta (and who better to quote?), "At the time that this article went to press, initial testing with identical example applications on identical hardware revealed significant performance gains over ColdFusion MX, which was already faster than ColdFusion 5, which was already faster thanSyou get the idea. ColdFusion MX 6.1 is 172% faster than ColdFusion 5 and 160% faster than ColdFusion MX."

The speed improvements are great - and noticeable - and I can't possibly stress that point enough. Faster! Faster! Faster! There's a great article up on Macromedia's DevNet at www.macromedia.com/devnet/mx/coldfusion/ articles/performance_61.html by Jim Schley of the ColdFusion Quality Assurance Team that's well worth a read for more information on this topic.

At the same time we were upgrading our servers to CFMX 6.1 here at SYS-CON, we also executed some other long-planned infrastructure changes that helped provide some additional significant gains in performance. These changes were implemented as a precursor to several planned updates to all of our publication sites that we'll be rolling out over the next few months. Previously running Microsoft IIS/Win2K Advanced Server, we switched over all of our Web servers to run off of Apache, utilizing the mod_gzip add-on module.

As the official description of mod_gzip states, "mod_gzip is an Internet Content Acceleration module for the popular Apache Web Server. It compresses the contents delivered to the client."

What does this mean in simple terms? Significantly smaller pages being transferred, and a drastic reduction in bandwidth usage. A few hours after installing it, I took a panicked phone call from our ISP who, based on the drop in usage, was sure that we had gone down. He couldn't find anything wrong with our T-1s or routers though. The main page of www.sys-con.com, for example, went from transmitting a bloated 70K to a lean, mean 19K. Multiply those same numbers outward toward the rest of the site, and take into account the number of users, and you can see where this is going....

We'll cover the process more over the next few months, including our own results, but in the meantime - there are some very helpful threads on this process on the Macromedia Support Forums (Click Here), and you can find more information on mod_gzip (http://sourceforge.net/projects/mod-gzip), and Apache (http://httpd.apache.org).

This move from IIS to Apache isn't for the faint of heart, as it means moving from lots of user-friendly visual wizards to a text file-based configuration, so I highly recommend reading up on the process first, and of course not testing it on live machines. When you're ready to do the setup on your actual servers, do the setup on another HTTP port until everything is up and running smoothly. Safety first!

P.S. Congratulations to Ben Forta on his 50th CFDJ column!

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on BroadwayWorld.com's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at www.robertdiamond.com.

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Most Recent Comments
michael kimsal 10/09/03 07:06:26 PM EDT

IIS has some gzip compression handling available as well - why switch away just for that?

Richard A. Cox 09/24/03 09:45:30 PM EDT

I got the impression that there is a developer version for CF that is affordable for a single workstation that doesn't cost an arm and a leg like the newer versions of CF Server now do. I have version 4.0 on my machine at home only because it was affordable and version 5 was too much money. Does this 6.1 version I speak of exist and what does it retail for?

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