When we have discovered and adopted nginx in the late autumn of 2009, we thought we have reached the maximum speed one can squeeze from a single server in terms of website loading speed (without being in a cluster or into a load balanced pair).

Driven by the nearly insane will to make our service faster and faster, we have researched and implemented memcached shortly after nginx became our favorite web serving tool. So far – so good. Combining these lovely two gave us more than 30% improvement on dynamic and more than 50% in static content pages load times.

This is quite good, but in demanding industry like the Internet and, specifically, the web hosting, being good is just not enough. You either provide the best or you do not count in. We have been successfully providing nginx and memcached on our dedicated and virtual private servers since then, however cPanel specific trammels prevented us from implementing it on our shared machines.

We put plenty of time in tests and modifications, but still nginx was not able to perform as we needed. Even with integration scripts that were generously contributed by cPanel forum’s member blargman, things were not as smooth as we wanted. Integration was a great success but, we admit, it required a plenty of modifications from our system administrators to fit in our work-flow scenario, but still we had to cope with couple of compromises, which is not exactly our best.

The search for a fast, secure, scalable and, in the same time, compatible with cPanel web serving tool is something, which is nearly a mission impossible, gave positive results in early spring 2010. It, in fact, was out there for long period of time, though it was not as stable as we needed it to be.

The first time when our System administrators did public demonstration in one of our offices of how LiteSpeed loads pages as opposed to Apache and nginx, we were unable to blink even once in a page load. Seriously, it was lightning fast. The first doubts came from the Technical support team, which is taught never to believe a single occurrence of an instance, until they see it scaled. Especially when the occurrence is in local environment, especially in our tech lab. They were demanding to see this in production and so it is.

When the system administrators and technical support first converted a server from Apache to LiteSpeed, the first three things that were easy to notice were:

– Average system load quickly dropped with between 60 and 70%
– Heavy websites (meaning Magentos with thousands of products, for example) started loading with between 40 and 50% faster.
– Static websites started loading within a half a blink of an eye.

After a few days of monitoring, slight peaks were noticed only during the time when daily backups are being taken. Websites’ whose traffic was suffering the “Digg effect” were no longer a problem, but the opposite — LiteSpeed handled them and their traffic in a manner that Apache was never able to.

Where Apache was not able to gear up and utilize the server’s memory and put it in speed effect, LiteSpeed was. Where Apache was incapable of building its own dynamic storage cache, LiteSpeed was. Where Apache had problems with KeepAlive and other dummy, non-mature code stuff, LiteSpeed had not.

Now, here is how LiteSpeed performs, as opposed to couple of other servers, including Apache:

A test conducted with a small, static file without KeepAlive:

Respectively, a test with a small, static file, but with KeepAlive enabled:

For more thorough benchmarking results, you can check up with the LiteSpeed tech labs here.

In both graphics above, hopefully, you are noticing the orange line, which raises high above the others, right? Well, this is LiteSpeed 2.1 Enterprise with dual client setup. The web serving agent, which TMDHosting officially uses as of today. We have officially ended our trial on LiteSpeed and are launching it officially, couple of minutes after you complete reading this post.

Some of our highest peaking and latest production servers are already converted, the rest are already scheduled for this and the upcoming weekend.

As of today, we dare say that we do provide lightning speed hosting services!

More to come out from the labs in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for the news.