To understand the impact and benefits of Railgun, let’s first take a quick look at cache (pronounced cash)…
A cached page is a version of a web page saved at a specific time and stored by a web server as a backup copy. CloudFlare has data centers all over the world that store countless cached pages in order to deliver them to web users as fast and efficiently as possible. So typically, requests to sites on CloudFlare are served directly from the data center that is in closest proximity to the person surfing the web. However, about 34% of web content cannot be cached and must be obtained from the real origin web server.
Typically these uncacheable pages are dynamically generated web pages (think the New York Times which is constantly changing) or personalized pages (think Facebook, where every user has the same web address, but a different experience of that page).
Which leads us to…
- What is Railgun? – A web optimization protocol designed to speed up the delivery of content that cannot be cached – meaning CloudFlare has to send the request for the site to the origin server for processing. Railgun ensures the connection between an origin server and its network is as fast as possible, no matter where the data center is located.
- What does Railgun do? –Using techniques that are similar to those used in the compression of high-quality video, Railgun is able to cache dynamically generated or personalized web pages, dramatically reducing bandwidth used while also improving download times. Or, in other words, Railgun can successfully accelerate and cache previously uncacheable pages.
- How is Railgun good for me? – Railgun means faster load times and better overall performance for your website, no matter who is accessing it in any corner of the globe. Here are the stats:
- Faster loading time of up to 144%
- 50% reduction in bandwidth usage
- 90% decrease in the time to first byte