expand menu

GuardKnox turbocharges website performance 8.5X by switching to Strattic from Azure

November 09, 2021

GuardKnox turbocharges website performance 8.5X by switching to Strattic from Azure
GuardKnox turbocharges website performance 8.5X by switching to Strattic from Azure

GuardKnox is the automotive industry’s leading supplier of innovative E/E technology and service-oriented solutions that empower OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and the aftermarket to deliver next-generation of service and software-oriented vehicles. Leading companies like Daimler and Porsche benefit from GuardKnox’s solutions that enable a driver-centric approach through their secure, flexible, and scalable in-vehicle digital services without the need for costly hardware adaptations, additional engine control units, or complex rewiring.

The problem: unsuitable web hosting shared with R&D on Azure

Performance and stability are paramount at GuardKnox, whether it involves their automotive cyber solutions or their website. Unfortunately, according to Jillian Goldberg, VP of Marketing and Investor Relations, their internally shared web hosting on Microsoft Azure wasn’t delivering on either requirement. While well-suited for GuardKnox’s cloud-based R&D efforts, the platform was causing significant issues in the marketing department.

“We couldn’t get full access, it was stupidly expensive and whenever we did a backup, the site would go down for a bit,” she said.

Inexplicable hours of downtime

The unpredictability of the site on Azure was one of GuardKnox’s key pain points. The site going down during backup was just the beginning:

“Finally, the site went down completely, and our IT department couldn’t figure out what happened, but they were able to restore a backup. Even so, the website was down for a few hours until the backup was restored.”

A one-time glitch was a problem, but as Courtney Mann, GuardKnox’s Marcom Manager analyst explained, it didn’t end there. “A week goes by and the website crashes again while we were at a very critical juncture in our business and fundraising efforts. It was an important day and our site was down.”

Inaccessible hosting

Compounding the issue was the fact that neither the GuardKnox marketing team nor their web development and strategic marketing agency Penguin Strategies, were able to proactively remedy the downtime issue or even move forward on new development due to the split purpose Azure was serving.

“We wanted to give access to the Penguin development team to do some backend work, or we would update a page and there would be an issue on another page,” says Jilian, “but because of the shared security with our R&D team, we weren’t able to give it to them. We were having site issues on a weekly basis and we couldn’t do anything about it due to security.”

The last straw: poor performance for new design

Things came to a head for the marketing team when they redesigned the GuardKnox site.

“We launched a new look for GuardKnox — a whole new face — and this really slowed down our site speed,” Courtney said. This new development combined with the final site outage, forced a decision: it was time to move to a different host.

Strattic site migration: a working, reliable site in practically no time

With the site down and armed with a list of three potential hosts recommended by the Penguin team, Courtney reached out to Strattic, the WordPress hosting solution known for auto-generating a headless, static site from any WordPress site. The decision to go with Strattic was almost immediate, as were the apparent benefits of choosing the dedicated WordPress host.

“Strattic was able to provide us with the best cost and the quickest turnaround. Within just a few hours of our reaching an agreement, Strattic got everything up and running — and we had a functional website.”

Nearly an 800% performance gain

Separating the online R&D and marketing environments made all the difference.

“As soon as we switched, the first thing we all said was, ‘Wow, the homepage loads so fast! It’s insane how much of a difference we saw.”

With the site running in the Strattic environment, the GuardKnox site went from an overall “F” grade on GTmetrix, with a performance rating of 23%, to a grade of “B” at 86% performance. The site structure score jumped from 53% to 80%. In addition, GuardKnox.com’s largest contentful paint dropped from 6.3 seconds to 748 milliseconds — faster by almost 800 percent!

Simple, effective, and seamless migration

While the numbers are impressive, the improvements behind the scenes were equally significant. Perhaps the greatest beneficiary is the web development team at Penguin, who gained full access to the site that they develop and maintain for GuardKnox. Penguin’s Yoni Grysman, who provided the initial recommendation to switch to Strattic described the difference in the usability of the two solutions in the lead up to, and after, the migration:

“In Azure, we didn’t even have FTP access,” Yoni said. “That last day when the backups stopped working and the MySQL file was corrupted, we spent two hours with a network administrator trying to fix Azure without a solution — that’s basically the same amount of time it took to migrate a development version of the site to Strattic after we gave up with Azure. If we hadn’t had that dev version saved locally, I don’t know what we would have done.”

Simplified relationships, back to a focus on marketing

Jillian and the marketing team are thrilled to have a clear separation between the marketing and R&D duties and responsibilities

“It makes everybody’s lives easier”

“We have fewer complaints regarding the website and our problems with Azure. We have full access to control what we need on the marketing site. Also, which department pays for what is very clear – we are no longer involved with the R&D Azure hosting budget.”

Most importantly, Jillian and her team can now maintain and improve the company’s online presence and drive forward GuardKnox’s marketing efforts, without fighting battles related to uncooperative hosting.

Increased usability, improved workflows

With two sites to maintain, one in English and one in German, Strattic has greatly simplified the workflows for Jillian and the team. According to Courtney, one feature that has made a large impact is the ability to pre-stage before publishing content.

“When we had Azure I would update something on the German site, and if I closed the window, or didn’t press update at the same time, it would lag and all of the work would disappear. Now, with Strattic’s preview feature, we can update and change things without pushing them live. That way I can get an expert to proofread all the German text.”

Safe and secure with a static, headless front end

One of GuardKnox’s main focuses is cybersecurity, and Courtney confirms that security was “one of the main reasons why we were on Azure and why it was so tough to switch.” Now, however, with the decreased attack surface they present by maintaining a website on Strattic, everyone is happy.

“We are a security company at heart. So our management was very keen on us having a secure platform like Strattic,” Courtney said.

No words for the Strattic difference

Asked to summarize their Strattic experience, both Courtney and Jillian agree that the support and professionalism of the Strattic team made the experience smooth and pain-free.

“It was a cool experience for us,” Courtney said. “The website speed has been an ongoing problem nobody could fix and then the second we moved to Strattic…I have no words to describe the positive changes.”

Jillian concludes: “It was easy, almost seamless. It’s refreshing to deal with such a professional team and get that level of customer service.”