A web accelerator provides optimization and security to web traffic, both HTTP and HTTPS (secure) by focusing in two key areas:
Client facing optimizations include page compression, content and image rewriting and optimization, CSS and JS minification and much more. This is intended to ensure your clients page loads faster.
Server facing optimizations are designed to offload your web servers with technologies like caching, compression offloading, SSL offloading as well as reducing the time it takes for pages to be generated, thus decreasing your clients load times.
Aside from optimization the web accelerator also has the task of protecting your web servers from attacks and DoS attempts, as well as delivering content no matter what. Web accelerators (such as Snapt's) will often be able to serve content even if all your web servers have failed.
This also results in a significant cost saving for large clients who can reduce the number of servers they need dramatically.
Aside from the protection against attacks and downtime acceleration is a critical component to many businesses, such as media and retail. There have been numerous studies which show a slower page load will cause more abandonment and a direct loss of revenue for many businesses.
Amazon.com estimates their revenue increases by 1% for every 100 milliseconds less loading time their website has! A second slower would cost them 1.6 billion dollars!
Facebook sees a 6% increase in dropoffs if a page is 1 second slower than another. Google would get 25% fewer searches if their pages loaded half a second slower. Shopzilla reduced their page loads by 5 seconds and saw a 7-12% increase in conversions.
No matter how small or large your business may be web acceleration is a critical component!