Page load time still matters

In response to my complaint about Zimbra’s slow web interface, Nathan said I should use Amazon’s EC2.  The problem is that even if I use EC2, the server is in a single place … and I can’t choose that place.  And Zimbra is still a very heavy web application. And, worse, Amazon (unlike Google and Yahoo!) is not obsessed with page-load times.  When I cleared my cache and pointed YSlow at Amazon’s front page, it took over 40 seconds to load!  And a good 10 of those seconds showed nothing but an empty page.  Twitter (front page load time, 15+ seconds) uses Amazon’s S3 for image hosting and if you go to someone’s page on Twitter (say, USofA, 75+ seconds!), you can watch each of the images for the people he is following load slowly, one after another, as they fill in on the page.  People are using S3 for a content distribution network, but that isn’t what S3 is.  I expect EC2 to fair worse than S3. By contrast Google took under 5 seconds and Yahoo! (a lot more images) took  about 10 seconds.  (Nathan’s page to just over 12 seconds.  My own page took over 20 seconds and didn’t display anything for a while, something I need to work on.) This is where I’d like Zimbra to focus.  So that even those of us who only have one server hosted in California (or on EC2 somewhere) can get to our email quickly. But I can’t just sit on my butt about speed.  Actually coming to Rwanda helps me understand that page load times matter — a lot.  We don’t know what sort of connection people will have to any applications we build.  For Ajax apps, Google Reader gives a good idea of how to build a useful, responsive application even when you don’t have a 1MBit connection.