Announcement Cloudflare Railgun

Matt

Owner
CloudFlare Railgun™
As a CloudFlare Optimized Partner, we are thrilled to offer the CloudFlare Railgun™ technology to all our Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Server customers for free. Railgun is CloudFlare’s latest performance optimization technology that gives you significant improvements in site load times.
Railgun ensures that the connection between our network and the CloudFlare network is as fast as possible. Railgun achieves a 99.6% compression ratio for previously uncacheable web objects by using techniques similar to those used in the compression of high-quality video. The average website can expect a 1.43x performance increase.
When a request is made to a CloudFlare server for a web page that is not in cache CloudFlare makes an HTTP connection to the origin server to request the page. It's that HTTP connection that Railgun accelerates and secures.

Even highly dynamic websites change slowly
Railgun works by recognizing that uncacheable web pages do not change very rapidly. For example, during an experiment, the CNN.com homepage HTML was captured once, and then again after 5 minutes and then again after one hour. The page sizes were 92,516, five minutes still 92,516 and one hour later 93,727.
CNN sets the caching on this page to 60 seconds. After one minute, it is necessary to download the entire page again. However, looking inside the page, not much has changed. In fact, the change between versions is on the order of 100s of bytes out of almost 100k.
Experiments at CloudFlare have revealed similar change values across the web. For example, reddit.com changes by about 2.15% over five minutes and 3.16% over an hour. The New York Times home page changes by about 0.6% over five minutes and 3% over an hour. BBC News changes by about 0.4% over five minutes and 2% over an hour.
Although the dynamic web is not cacheable, it is also not changing quickly. That means that from moment to moment there’s only a small change between versions of a page. CloudFlare Railgun uses this fact to achieve very high rates of compression. This is very similar to how video compression looks for changes from frame to frame; Railgun looks for changes on a page from download to download.

Railgun Technology
Railgun consists of two components: the sender and the listener. The sender is installed at every CloudFlare data center around the world. The listener is a software component that MattWServices has installed on our network for customers.
The sender and listener establish a permanent TCP connection that’s secured by TLS. This TCP connection is used for the Railgun protocol. It’s an all binary multiplexing protocol that allows multiple HTTP requests to be run simultaneously and asynchronously across the link. Or in other words, a persistent connection is opened between CloudFlare’s network and ours and eliminates the overhead of TCP.

Further details to follow, including how this can be enabled on your site.
 
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Matt

Owner
RAILGUN FAQ
  1. What is Railgun?
    Railgun is a WAN optimization technology that we offer our hosting customers in partnership with a company called CloudFlare.CloudFlare’s Railgun technology greatly speeds up the delivery of non-cached pages. While CloudFlare automatically caches 65% of the resources needed to make up a page, 35% can't be cached because the resources are dynamically generated or marked as 'do not cache'. That 35% is often the initial HTML of the page that must be downloaded first. CloudFlare Railgun speeds this remaining 35%.
  2. What are the benefits of Railgun?
    Websites running Railgun show a 143% improvement in HTML load times and a 90% decrease in Time To First Byte (TTFB) responses.
  3. How does Railgun work?
    Railgun opens a secure, tunneled connection between the CloudFlare network and your host’s origin server where the connection only sends differences from the last request. This is similar to how video encoding works.
    The markup of websites does not change that frequently from one request to the next. Instead of transferring the entire request between CloudFlare and the origin server, Railgun will transfer only the changes in markup from one request to the next. This cuts down on bandwidth, transfer time, and overall page load times. Railgun caches these differences in memory to make page processing as fast as possible.
  4. What kind of sites can use Railgun?
    Any website can benefit from the performance improvements Railgun offers, especially dynamic sites.
  5. What much does Railgun cost?
    We have partnered with CloudFlare to make Railgun both easy and affordable. If you purchase Railgun directly through CloudFlare, it costs $200/month. However, we have partnered with CloudFlare and are offering Railgun to our Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Server customers for free.
 
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droidone

Managed Customer
Interesting. How do we enable it? Open a support ticket?

What are the prerequisites for sites already running Cloudflare? Can we use our own Cloudflare account still?


Has anyone on here tried Railgun? Did you notice an improvement? Any bugs or issues with dynamic content and/or programmatic ads?
 

Matt

Owner
Has anyone on here tried Railgun? Did you notice an improvement? Any bugs or issues with dynamic content?
It's running on here now.

Interesting. How do we enable it? Open a support ticket?

What are the prerequisites for sites already running Cloudflare? Can we use our own Cloudflare account still?
I need to install and configure the railgun application on your server. Your Cloudflare domain needs to be associated with my Partner account, which is still a process I'm testing, as it's using their API.
 

toad

Managed Customer
i don't have a problem with speed, my forum is fast,

i haven't' tried it but i want to try it, it sounds faster

i will try this when i move to my new server, it sounds interesting

im using cpanel and cloudflare,

i want the fastest site possible!
 

Matt

Owner
Apologies to everyone, and hopefully clear something up. This is currently only being offered for free to customers on my shared hosting, VPS or Dedicated Servers provided by myself.

I can offer this as an addon to the server management package, but its additional overhead and support for me, so I'm currently working out what this will cost.

EDIT: I've tweaked the wording in the first two posts.
 
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Matt

Owner
So I've been testing for a couple of days, I'm from and end user perspective, the improvement is very noticeable.

So the way RailGun work, is dynamically comparing a cached version of the HTML for your session, to what they have in their edge servers, via the RailGun listeners and senders.

On here, you can see it working by looking at the headers, as they tag the details to the requests.

1547484260899.png

That my home page on here. The 2nd field is the interesting one, as that's the compression ratio.

How to Tell How Well Railgun Is Working for Your Site

So in my case, 0.28 compression ratio, means 99.79% of the data that was required to generate the page wasn't required to be transmitted because of the Railgun application.

Railgun in the real world: faster web page load times

Based on the additional work required, I'm looking at offering this as an addon to the managed packages for larger sites at £30 per month. Considering this is $200 a month from Cloudflare, I think that's a pretty reasonable price, as it's a dedicated RailGun application for the end users site.
 

droidone

Managed Customer
Been running it for a few days now and I'm glad to say that we are very happy with the results.

We haven't had any compatibility issues so far either, which was something that had me worried.
 
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