CDN – Commonly known as Content Delivery Networks!

Technology is constantly changing which means it is important to have a fast-loading website for your visitors. Websites have to deliver more data and content than ever before. And that is where a content delivery network comes into play. CDNs are becoming an increasingly popular method of content delivery and according to BuiltWith, 48.3% of the top 10k websites are using a content delivery network.

A study done by the University of Nebraska found that the tolerable waiting time for information is approximately only 2 seconds!

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of edge servers that provide optimized distribution or delivery of online content. The location of a group of servers is referred to as a PoP (Point of Presence), and each CDN PoP services the users in the geographic area it is placed. This widely distributed and optimized network of edge servers work together to improve the speed and efficiency of content delivery by transmitting data over a private global backbone, bypassing much of the congested public and internet service provider (ISPs) networks.

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CDN Architecture – At a high level, CDN architecture is made up of two key components: PoPs (Points of Presence) and edge servers. These terms are commonly used to educate users about a CDN provider’s global reach and caching server quality. Beyond these components are configurations in place to properly route traffic, mitigate DDoS attacks, and more.

Points of Presence  – A PoP, also known as a point of presence, refers to the geographical location where a group of CDN servers are located. These are typically spread across the globe to cover a large distance. You can see a CDN’s full list of PoPs usually by going to their network page.

Edge Servers – The servers located at each PoP are called “edge servers.” Edge servers are actually simple proxy caches, which work in a similar way to the cache in your web browser. They don’t generate the content for the website. Instead, they keep a copy of the content in a cache.

The dispersion of PoPs will vary from CDN to CDN. Certain providers prefer to cover more ground with small-capacity servers, while other CDNs aim to maintain fewer, high-capacity PoPs. One important aspect to take into consideration when analyzing a CDN’s architecture is to find out where their PoPs are located. Depending upon where a particular website’s visitors are coming from, this could be a deciding factor.

What Are The Key Benefits Of A CDN?

The primary goal and benefit that many people think of when it comes to CDN is speed. Speed is and has always been an important benefit of a CDN, but the benefits and capabilities of a good CDN go well beyond just delivery speed.

Speed is improved not only through the design, distribution, and capacity of the CDN, but also the intelligence and optimizations built into the network. Speed is a key benefit as it is known to have a significant impact on bounce and abandonment rates, as well as the overall user experience. Often speed is measured in response time, which is the amount of time it takes for the server to receive a request and start delivering the requested content.

Cost Reduction is another important benefit of using a CDN. Content delivery networks reduce the amount of data and bandwidth consumption required to deliver content by servicing requests from edge servers (content that is in the cache) and lowering the burden on the client’s origin server. By essentially renting bandwidth availability from the CDN, companies also save on the hard costs of owning and maintaining their own infrastructure which may go under-used or may result in revenue loss when traffic spikes require more bandwidth than is available.

Scale is equally important to speed. No CDN can deliver quickly and reliably without the ability to scale and handle large volumes of traffic. Without a CDN, a large spike in traffic may cause your server to crash or stop responding. A CDN can generally handle any amount of traffic without slowing down end-users, which takes the load off of the origin server and reduces instances of downtime.

Security has not traditionally been associated with CDN, but it’s become an area of opportunity and increased focus within the CDN industry in the last few years, especially with the massive growth of the internet of things (IoT). Learn how the internet of things is changing cloud security. A CDN provides redundancy, helps protect the origin server and content, and may mitigate or prevent common cyber-attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks.