It was 2012 and the holiday season was upon us. I was nestled in my cubicle and settling in for a long winter project. As the director of the web development team for an agency in Rhode Island, I was tasked with the development of a WordPress multisite that would power tens of thousands of websites. Jetpack had just been installed on our new network, and I was looking into all the tools we could use for these business websites.
Speed, security, and uptime were very important to our clients. At the time, their websites were powered by a third-party closed source CMS that had been experiencing a lot of downtime and abysmal load speeds. The new sites were to be hosted on a managed WordPress hosting solution, and initial tests showed a significant improvement in speed. I was considering a CDN, but I wasn’t sure whether the server and management costs would be worth it. Jetpack came with Photon, a free image CDN. But would it be enough?
Once I enabled Jetpack for all the sites on the network, activating Photon was as easy as flipping a switch. This isn’t a metaphor — it was and still is this easy! So easy in fact, that I was worried it wasn’t actually working. At this time, we had roughly 1,000 staged sites with tens of thousands of images. In my mind, enabling an image CDN should have taken a significant amount of manual effort.
I double-checked the Jetpack settings page: Photon was indeed “active.” Was it already working? I initiated some additional speed tests on the network and went off to investigate Photon. At first, it was hard to tell from where the photos were being served. I checked the source of the page, and it was confirmed: the photos were being served from “wp.com.”
I was very impressed: in no time at all, Photon had mirrored all the images in my Media Library on to WordPress.com’s free CDN. The speed tests even showed an additional decrease in load time, which meant the sites I was building were even faster than before. Jeff Golenski, our top mobile designer, was pleased as well. The images Photon was serving were optimized for mobile devices — and auto-resized and beautiful as ever.
Months later, our network went live with the first several thousand business sites. Those sites were very fast and only had one CDN serving files to its visitors: Photon. Our new network was live, and our clients loved their new, fast websites. They were receiving traffic, generating leads, and seeing a direct impact on revenue. Things were running smoothly and our clients were satisfied, which made our team — and me — happy. Jetpack was essential for every single website in the network.
Jetpack truly came through for us on that project. The code shined, the tools were free, and everything came together — plus, we had access to a phenomenal support team that was always there for us. Installing Jetpack on our network was the best holiday gift we could have ever received. Years later, I’m now lucky to work at Automattic — on this Jetpack team — and now have a hand in building these great products.