There is real difference in perceived user experience between Instart Logic and CloudFront. With Instart, our photo and video content is already on the site as soon as you hit the page. That’s true no matter what type of connection, what type of device, and for any location on Earth. For mobile, especially, Instart Logic has taken us to the next level in performance, and our customers have noticed how fast their content is loading.

Jeff Chen

Benefits Summary

After switching all of their traffic to Instart Logic, Pixlee and Chen got instant gratification. 

  • Improved performance for mobile customers
  • Increased load times with users accessing photo widgets outside the U.S.
  • Cut server response times from 250 milliseconds to 50 milliseconds

The Challenge

Pixlee’s unique Personalized Visual Marketing (PVM) platform generates code for photo walls, carousels, and other widgets that can be embedded in virtually any website, with mobile websites of particular importance to Pixlee customers. Brands such as Ghirardelli, Paramount Pictures, and Converse rely on Pixlee’s platform to turn user-owned visual content to create mass personalization at scale and to influence buying decisions. As such, the quality of images loaded on customers’ pages is a first priority. “Our content is being served wherever our customers are serving, so we inherit the traffic of our audience. Not to mention we have to be able to scale with their page views. That means we need rapid scaling with no diminishment of performance,” explains Pixlee co-founder and head of infrastructure Jeff Chen.

Chen was especially concerned about perceived user experience. “How fast the images seem to load on the page is critical for all of our customer brands,” says Chen. “They know that every extra millisecond while a customer is looking at the screen and waiting for content to load results in a higher bounce rate. It’s real money they are losing.”

Pixlee had been using Amazon’s CloudFront CDN service for caching, but noticed marked slowdowns in its web performance outside the U.S. “Caching is a bit of a commodity, and we really needed to get a smarter, faster network,” explained Chen. Furthermore, customers were complaining about performance on mobile devices, something that CloudFront and other CDNs were not able to deliver due to bottlenecks in the “Mobile Last Mile”.

The Solution

Pixlee was attracted to Instart Logic’s peerless approach to web performance and content delivery. “We heard about them from a customer of ours who raved about Instart Logic. When I dove deeper into the technology, I was impressed with the idea of streaming HTML and images to improve user experience and boost speed,” says Chen. “I also was really intrigued by their unique architectural approach to delivery applications; it’s something that we can leverage over time to continually improve our performance.”

Within a day, Instart Logic had launched a live trial for Chen with a simple DNS redirect to push a portion of Pixlee’s traffic through Instart Logic’s SDAD platform and global network. ”We saw significant improvements in many of our key web performance metrics during the live trial. The data was compelling enough for us to leave our existing CDN and sign with Instart Logic in it’s place.” Chen in particular was excited about using Instart Logic’s HTML and image streaming to progressively paint user-generated images into photo walls to improve perceived UX and minimize round-trips to the origin server.

The Result

After switching all of their traffic to Instart Logic, Pixlee and Chen got instant gratification. In particular, Chen was blown away by the seamless nature of Instart Logic’s reliable image transcoding and progressive Image Streaming feature. “The difference was instantly palpable. Before, when people scrolled down through a big photo they would notice top-down loading. That is not a good experience. With Instart Logic, all the content appears instantly. It was a huge change,” says Chen.

This improvement was most noticeable on mobile devices, a key concern for Pixlee customers who were seeing more and more traffic served to smart phones and phablets. Pixlee also saw improved performance for customers with users accessing photo widgets outside the U.S., a high priority for Chen in upgrading his web performance solution. “We definitely saw speeds pick up around the globe,” notes Chen.

The improved global speed was accompanied by seamless global scaling to absorb usage spikes. In fact, Instart Logic was able to replace a portion of Pixlee’s caching infrastructure and to accelerate Pixlee’s message queuing services, slicing server response times from 250 milliseconds to 50 milliseconds. Says Chen, “this relieved pressure on internal infrastructure and minimized the need to scale up additional virtual machines to meet peak demands.”

Finally, Pixlee was impressed with Instart Logic’s cache management and near-instantaneous cache flushing capabilities. Customers expect super fresh photos to constantly stream across their pages, so clearing the cache in a timely fashion is a critical part of service delivery for Chen’s team. “Cache flushing on Instart is incredibly simple. We automate it into our infrastructure management system and then forget about it,” says Chen. “In general, Instart Logic has taken us the next level in terms of optimizing performance, and our customers have noticed how fast their content is loading, especially on mobile. We’re really happy with Instart Logic.”

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