One small step for Highwinds. One giant leap for StackPath-kind.
On December 4th, we released StrikeTracker 3.5, a new version of the Highwinds CDN portal and management console.
Although StackPath SecureCDN and MaxCDN customers (which probably includes you since you’re reading this blog) don’t use StrikeTracker, we wanted to share news of the release with our entire community. It's a key milestone in our work to integrate the legacy Highwinds, MaxCDN, and StackPath technologies and services into a single, world-class platform of secure edge services.
As you know, Highwinds joined StackPath earlier last year. We've all seen what usually happens when technology companies merge. The integration gets rushed, perhaps never fully completed, and instead of a sleek, synergized hybrid you end up with a Frankenstein's monster of mismatched and misfit pieces. And then the monster goes on to frighten and maim existing customers.
That seemed like, well, maybe a bad approach. We chose to take a smart and systematic approach instead.
First, we cross-trained our teams so that everyone had firsthand, in-depth understanding of both platforms. Each has unique strengths and equally unique designs. StackPath was built for a large and diverse customer base, self-service customer signup and management, and platform- and product-level security features including WAF and DDoS protection. Highwinds was designed to provide major enterprise and Fortune 100 customers massive scale, advanced features, and exceptionally granular control. We wanted everyone to be well-versed on both architectures, their technologies, and histories.
Only then were we able to intelligently plan out how our technologies would integrate into the ultimate secure edge services platform, and develop a multi-phased, multi-track integration plan.
One of those tracks has focused on designing and deploying a cloud-scale infrastructure edge network that will give our platform the foundation and power to grow, scale, and adapt for everything in our roadmap and things we (and you) haven’t even dreamed up. We’re far along that track and can’t wait to tell you even more.
Another track established a series of key, incremental changes to the existing platforms to make them more modular, move services to the technologies on which they will ultimately need to run, and begin establishing feature parity and standardized user experiences. That way we can minimize disruption for existing customers in the near and far terms.
Which brings us to StrikeTracker 3.5. On its face, it’s not all that different than StrikeTracker 3.4, but it includes a number of under-the-hood changes that far exceed the obvious fit-and-finish improvements. It’s now capable of even higher scale operations and ready to support additional products, simplified product management, and future tools and sales models.
You can read detailed descriptions of each of the improvements below.
A Modern, Clean, and Consistent UI
The first thing you’ll notice is that the general look and feel of StrikeTracker has changed. All your services, your account and user details, the search function, and a number of help articles can be accessed from a static top navigation panel. All items open in a consistent navigation panel to the right of the console.
Important features are clearly defined, and first-time users will discover that finding their way through the console feels natural. Many list contexts, such as Sites, Origins, and Certificates have been improved to facilitate ease-of-use.
We’ve Changed “Hosts” to “Sites”
In StrikeTracker 3.5 we’ve also introduced a minor conceptual improvement that makes navigating the console easy and natural.
The term “Host,” which is a pretty ambiguous term, has been replaced throughout the UI, wherever possible, to more accurately represent the thing to which it’s actually referring.
For example, in previous versions of StrikeTracker, “Host” was the name given to the delivery containers used to manage the caching and delivery of your content on the CDN. With StrikeTracker 3.5, delivery container “Hosts” are now called “Sites.” Elsewhere in the console, “host” referenced the delivery domain. Now we simply call it the delivery domain.
Introducing Site Creation Wizard
If you’re looking to get your website cached and delivered on the CDN with no hassle, the new Site Creation Wizard is designed just for that. The effort required is now absolutely minimal. Simply enter your delivery domain and let the Wizard do the rest.
The automated origin server detection via DNS lookup is instant and automatically registers your origin’s address with the CDN. The default delivery settings applied cover best practices for delivering content fast and efficient with minimal stress placed on your origin server.
After creating your Site, customizing the default configurations applied by the Wizard is simple.
Point-and-Click Simplicity for Advanced Configurations
Developers and other advanced users are familiar with the Interactive APIs. But if you do your work in the StrikeTracker console, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it’s become to navigate and configure advanced policies. We’ve introduced major organizational changes.
Advanced configuration policies now live behind an on/off switch that allows users who wish to edit advanced configurations to leave the simple mode. Once changes incompatible with the simple defaults are published in advanced mode, Sites are locked into advanced editing mode.
All advanced policies are now logically categorized, named to better describe their function, and are made visible and accessible at all times. Applying an advanced configuration to a Site is now as simple as flipping an enable switch.
The ease with which advanced configurations can be applied opens the door to less advanced users coming forward to better understand, and ultimately utilize, the full range of features the CDN offers.
Need to know more about advanced configurations? Check out the support article on editing advanced configurations.
Breadcrumbs Show the Way Up and Down Your Subaccounts
For administrators of subaccounts, breadcrumbs allow you to jump back and forth between the different layers of your company’s accounts. You’ll never get lost when navigating the hierarchy of those accounts as you’ll always know which context of your account you’re currently in.
Clear and Easy Support Documentation
The help articles relevant to StrikeTracker 3.5 reflect the straightforward and clear design of the console’s user interface.
If you’re unsure how the Site Creation Wizard works, we have an article for that. If you need a refresher on how to navigate the new interface in general, we have an article for that too.
We’re not stopping yet. The improvements introduced in the StrikeTracker 3.5 update lay the foundation for the upcoming releases and advancements we’re excited to bring you in the coming months, including the ability to add SSL certificates and select origins from within the Site Creation Wizard, a streamlined onboarding process, an intelligent search function in advanced Site configuration mode. And much more. Stay tuned.
Like I said, you won’t have seen this if you’re a SecureCDN or MaxCDN customer. But Highwinds CDN customers have given great feedback on the release and the direction we’re headed. We invite everyone to let us know what you think.
Well, maybe not me, but tell someone here. : )
And stay tuned. We’ve been busy and look forward to showing you all that we’ve been up to this year.