Pantheon's New Global CDN Improves Websites — More Security, More Speed, Less Cost

Text "Pantheon Global CDN" with map of the world in the background with yellow pinpoints at specific locations.

When I first started working at Mindgrub, web hosting for clients was mostly done through custom cloud servers using providers like Rackspace or Amazon Web Services (AWS) where prices were low and you had to pay separately for features such as HTTPS and content distribution. Seeking a quicker, more secure, and more affordable way to get things done, we turned to Pantheon. Pantheon has an efficient response to vulnerabilities, has proven to be the fastest provider out there, and now includes security and content distribution at no extra charge. As a result of great collaboration with Pantheon, Mindgrub became its first Fast Track partner.

One of the challenges we faced over the past few years is the price of an increasingly more secure internet. Overall, better security is a good thing and something that Mindgrub wholeheartedly supports. However, as the web’s security has changed, we’ve seen Google start to give preference in search results to websites delivered over HTTPS and the launch of Let’s Encrypt, a global effort to make SSL certificates (which normally cost upwards of $100 annually for clients) free for everyone. While we are excited about the changes, adding encryption to sites that we were hosting on Pantheon has cost our clients an extra $30 per month  $360 per year not counting the SSL certificate! Surely we could push for a better solution.

On July 25, 2017, Pantheon publicly announced its new plan for providing free HTTPS for every site hosted on its platform. This free, additional level of security is fully automated and requires no action or renewal by Mindgrub or its clients. Through partnerships with Let’s Encrypt, certificates are provisioned within an hour of adding a site to Pantheon and continue working without human involvement. This alone will save our clients $500 per year when adding up the cost of HTTPS on Pantheon, the cost of the certificate, and the small amount of time it takes to set things up.

In addition to rolling out free HTTPS for all websites, Pantheon rolled out a new global Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve website performance. This CDN features 36 global points of presence (i.e., locations around the world where your content is stored) and can lead to a 25+% performance boost to websites. While clients have been using CDNs with their Pantheon websites for years, they were always running through a third party (e.g., Amazon Cloudfront), resulting in additional costs. Pantheon’s global CDN is free for all websites hosted on Pantheon. We had the opportunity to test the new CDN prior to public release and were pleased to see that it offered a 25% to 50% (or more) performance improvement to our websites and we now utilize it on all of our Pantheon websites.

As the web enters into 2018, the desire for security and speed has skyrocketed. No longer is the question, “Do you have a website?”; it’s now, “How quickly can our users get our content?” Security and the use of HTTPS are more important than ever for websites, especially as a growing number of impatient users continue to demand content as quickly as possible. Personally, I’m excited about this trend and even more excited about Pantheon’s improvements to help support this initiative. If your website is not currently using HTTPS or is loading slower than you would like, let us know so we can help increase your security and page load speeds.