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Content Delivery Network (CDN)

When building out the infrastructure for your business there are a variety of factors to consider and, these days, near countless options to choose from. There’s a good chance that one of those choices will include which Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider to trust with that critical component of your business. In this post we will take a look at how to evaluate CDN providers in order to make the right choice for your organization.

What is a CDN?

A Content Delivery Network is a system of distributed servers designed to push delivery of web pages and other web content geographically closer to the user making the request. The content is taken from a customer’s origin server and is then cached across several node locations, often globally dispersed. This assists with speeding up the delivery of content and improving the overall performance of a website, reducing latency and providing a more reliable connection with fewer network hops.

What would I use a CDN for?

CDNs can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  1. Improving website performance: By delivering content from a server that is geographically closer to the user, a CDN can significantly reduce latency and improve the load time for content.
  2. Increasing website availability: By distributing the incoming traffic across the network, a CDN can help to ensure that a website remains available even during periods of extremely high traffic (or even if the origin server is down).
  3. Enhancing website security: CDN providers will often include security features such as DDoS protection, SSL/TLS encryption, and bot management to help protect a website from malicious attacks.
  4. Reducing costs: By offloading the delivery of static content from the origin server, a CDN can help to reduce the load on that origin server and reduce hosting costs.
  5. Supporting global audiences: A Content Delivery Network can help to ensure that a website is delivered quickly and reliably to users all over the world, regardless of their location.
  6. Content distribution: CDNs can be used to distribute video content, software distribution, gaming, e-commerce and other high-bandwidth content.
  7. Enhancing SEO: By reducing the load time of a website and making it more available, a CDN can help to improve the website’s search engine rankings.
  8. Streamlining analytics: CDN providers typically offer analytics and reporting on the performance of your content distribution, allowing you to measure your audience and optimize your content accordingly.

How are CDN and cloud computing services complementary?

Cloud computing and CDN services each offer unique value and functionality to your business, naturally complementing each other in a variety of ways:

  1. Delivering content together: CDNs can be used to deliver static content such as images, videos, and other files to users around the world. That static content will often come directly from a cloud-based origin server.
  2. Improved performance: By delivering content from a server that is geographically closer to the user, a CDN can significantly reduce latency and improve the load time of a website. Cloud computing services such as IaaS can provide the computing power and storage necessary to support this content delivery.
  3. High availability: A CDN can help to ensure that a website remains available even during periods of high traffic, or if the origin server is down. Similarly, cloud computing services are often replicated in alternate zones, providing backup and the necessary resources to ensure high availability and resiliency of the website.
  4. Scalability: Both CDNs and cloud computing services are highly scalable, making it easy to adapt to changes on the fly in order to meet demand.
  5. Security: Paired with the aforementioned security services (DDoS Protection, Bot Managemment, etc.) often offered by CDN providers, cloud computing services frequently provide additional security services (firewalls, intrusion detection, encryption, etc.) to protect the underlying infrastructure.
  6. Cost-effectiveness: CDNs can reduce the load on the origin server, frequently reducing hosting costs. Cloud computing services typically include a pay-as-you-go pricing model, allowing you to only pay for the resources you need.

How can I determine which CDN provider is best for my business?

There are several factors to consider when determining which CDN provider is best for your business. Some key considerations include:

  1. Coverage: Make sure that the CDN provider has coverage in the regions where your target audience is located.
  2. Performance: The provider should offer high-performance delivery and low latency to ensure that your content is delivered quickly to users.
  3. Cost: Compare pricing plans and features to find a provider that offers the best value for your budget.
  4. Features: Look for a provider that offers the features that you need, such as support for dynamic content, security, and analytics.
  5. Support: Choose a provider that offers reliable support and has a good reputation for customer service.
  6. Scalability: Your CDN provider should be able to scale up or down as your traffic and business needs change.
  7. Integration: Consider how easily the CDN can be integrated with your current systems and infrastructure (cloud, etc.).

As is the case with any spend, identifying what matters most to your business should guide your search. Does your business require CDN performance that also includes high-end dynamic content functionality? Perhaps you don’t need many bells and whistles and just want a CDN that is reliable and cost effective? Or maybe your underlying systems have specific requirements in order to make everything work together with a CDN. Regardless of what your needs are, ranking their importance will make it easier to see the forest through the trees when comparing multiple providers.

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