Shopzilla buys itself a holiday gift: a second content delivery network

Comparison shopping site Shopzilla.com wanted to make sure visitors weren’t waiting for pages to load during the busy holiday season. So it added a second content delivery network, Cotendo.

Zak Stambor

Comparison shopping site Shopzilla.com wanted to make sure visitors weren’t waiting for pages to load during the busy holiday season. So this fall it added a second content delivery network, Cotendo.

Burzin Engineer, Shopzilla’s vice president of infrastructure technology, says Shopzilla chose Cotendo because it offers instant reporting of its web site load time, as well as how the site is being accessed and used by consumers across geographic regions. Engineer says the other content delivery networks he has examined offer performance reports once every 24 hours. “No one else I have seen offers real-time reporting,” Engineer says. “Now, if we have an error in one of our static files, we know within five minutes. With the others we would not have known for a day.”

Cotendo, Engineer says, also is easy to use in conjunction with Shopzilla’s other content delivery network, which he would not name. Cotendo’s load balancer tool allows Shopzilla to serve page requests from some geographic regions through Cotendo and others through the other network. For example Shopzilla can funnel traffic out of Florida through Cotendo and traffic from another region through its other delivery network. Cotendo also allowed Shopzilla to test its program for free for six months.

Content delivery networks such as Cotendo, Limelight and Akamai are designed to make web pages load faster. Such networks operate servers across the country-and the world-that deliver site data to consumers nearby, so that, for instance, a consumer in Phoenix is accessing data from a server in that city, and not from the retailer’s data center in New York. This saves e-retailers the cost of placing many servers in major markets, while allowing consumers to access site content faster.

Additionally, Cotendo’s Dynamic Site Acceleration feature enables Shopzilla to deliver non-cacheable content more quickly. Most content delivery networks can cache, or save, previously loaded web pages and serve them again to the next consumer to save time. But personalized content like a specific product recommendation or special offers or promotions can’t be cached and repurposed over and over. Cotendo’s dynamic site accelerator speeds delivery of dynamic content by connecting its network directly to Shopzilla’s origin server.

Engineer says it has cut $200,000 to $300,000 in server fees since it added Cotendo. “We’re enhancing the end user experience and saving money,” Engineer says.

Shopzilla says it continues to operate two content delivery networks because one can serve as a backup if the other fails and also because it helps to keep fees reasonable. “If one stops working, we can easily shift to the other,” Engineer says. “And, it helps keep the prices competitive. If one network’s pricing comes in five times the price of the other, I know it’s out of whack.”

Shopzilla paid a small set up and instillation fee for Cotendo and also pays a monthly service fee based on traffic.


Communication, Content delivery network, Cotendo, Load balancing, Servers