January 13, 2014
3 min read time

Varnish’s role in the NYTimes.com tech platform redesign

The NYTimes.com recently did a redesign of their website. Or rather, they did a complete reinvention of the website’s entire digital platform. In a blog post on their Open blog, they introduce the technology they used in the redesign. The objective with the redesign was to have a faster running code base and to make future changes easier.

The NYTimes’ new technology platform needed, among other things, a strong reverse proxy to serve their dynamic articles and to protect their PHP framework. After successfully launching Varnish on the NYTimes mobile in May the team decided to also use Varnish in this redesign project. “The successful launch of Varnish on the NYTimes mobile site last May gave us confidence that Varnish was the best technology to use for the new platform. Varnish is highly configurable and provides lightning fast response times when serving content from the cache. It also enables us to cache our articles so those that change more frequently will stay in the cache for a shorter time,” said Reed Emmons, the development lead on the NYTimes.com redesign project.

Varnish on NYTimes mobile

For those interested in how Varnish was implemented on NYTimes mobile, this is what Ian Gardner, NYTimes Development Manager for Emerging Technologies had to say about that on the Source last May:
We have Varnish in front of everything. The main philosophy of the new mobile web was to be as fast as possible and this means caching as much as we possibly can. Node.js can be very fast but with some of our complex business logic, it will never be as fast as Varnish serving cached pages. Varnish caches the full html pages generated by the Node.js app and we use Ajax to add any user-specific details to the page. This allows us to not only drastically reduce the load on our Node.js servers but also allows us to set cache headers so proxies can cache the pages and reduce the distance a user’s request has to travel.

The Varnish team is of course incredibly proud to be contributing to a new and improved NYTimes.com and the excellence of the New York Times online !


Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Getty