We’ve been working on changes that enable HTTP/2 and built-in caching for HTTPS sites/pages for several months now. At this point the system is working very well, and it is already hosting sites for a number of clients that previously expressed interest.
Today we are opening that beta to all Lightning Base clients.
The new system enables support for HTTP/2 over https connections. This is an update to the HTTP 1.1 protocol that was released in 1995. It makes for better performance, significantly by reducing the number of connections required and compressing HTTP headers, among other things.
By requiring only one connection this helps minimize the traditional HTTPS performance penalty, which is a nice accompaniment to our recently-added Let’s Encrypt support for the WordPress sites we host, especially as more sites go HTTPS.
HTTP/2 also makes it easier to run a fast website, as it eliminates the need to combine files, use sprites, shard across multiple domains, and other traditional performance-enhancing activity that added complexity to making a site fast.
Our system has in the past bypassed the built-in cache for https requests. This was due to the particular way our built-in cache was setup, and was not initially an issue – most sites used HTTPS only for admin areas/shopping carts/etc, places where caching is not helpful. But as security has become a larger concern in recent years and Google began considering HTTPS as a ranking factor, more sites are switching to all-HTTPS. This caused them to lose one of the benefits of our hosting.
The new setup includes full support for caching over https, just as was previously done with http.
Beta – Interested?
Currently, all production servers are still running our older setup. We have the beta config running in Chicago on dedicated hardware. The https://lightningbase.com site you’re reading this on is running on the new setup already along with a number of clients. Today we are opening this to everyone.
Please note that this is a beta. The system has been working very well for the sites we’ve moved so far, but there is the potential for unexpected cache behavior or other problems, which is the reason for the beta label.
If the above does not scare you off, we would love to have more sites participate in the beta. Just login to https://secure.lightningbase.com and open a ticket, we can migrate a hosting service to the beta system and let you check out how the site runs and performs. Assuming all continues to go well, we anticipate beginning rollout to production servers within the next month or so.