What’s Content Delivery Network (CDN)

After you have spent months of manhours and efforts into building that web application that you know will boost your bottom line, you are buzzing with excitement to see it go live. For that, you will need to find a hosting provider for your web app so that your users can access it over the internet. Hosting a web application or a website refers to hosting the application files on a network of servers. 

In traditional web hosting set up, a website is hosted on a single shared or dedicated server that can be located in any geographic location. Typically, it is located near to the center where the site runs. It has been the standard method of server infrastructure setup and dominated the early decades of World Wide Web. 

However, today, the internet is getting flooded with abundant forms of web content – multimedia, videos, animations, JavaScript embedding, and more – and consumers of such content are consuming them more than ever. Also, most of the websites today cater to users from much wider geography – if not globally. This is where the traditional server setup has started to run into problems.

Users have to wait for the data to be retrieved from where the webserver is located. Round Trip Time measures the total time that it takes for a request to hit the server where the data that has been requested is, and the time that it takes for the response to travel back. Modern websites and web apps have users all over the world and the round trip time due to the large physical distance between the origin server and the user can result in a slow website response, and thus a bad user experience.

Hence, CDNs have become popular today.

Medianova is CDN Provider

A content delivery network (CDN) utilizes a network of edge – servers to serve the information to the end-user from the server nearest to them, reducing the load on any single server and thus delivering the desired information blazingly fast. The purpose of a CDN is to accelerate internet content delivery by making your website load and provide content more quickly to the website visitor. 

So how does a CDN accomplish this? A CDN takes the websites’ static and dynamic content and serves it from across the globe, decreasing the download times. Most times, the closer the CDN server is to the web visitor, the faster the assets will load for them. A CDN service places PoPs in strategically distributed data centers, reducing the distance between the user and the edge server.

With CDNs, the request & response instead of having to travel all the way around the world will be directed to the closest geographic location. It drastically reduces the amount of time to resolve a request. 

Speed is not the only benefit that a CDN brings to websites. CDN also leads to a reduction in the number of hits, i.e., the load that the origin server will need to handle. It happens because a lot of requests will not be hitting the origin server directly now, but they will be resolved via a CDN edge server. Hence companies can design an efficient server infrastructure without having to invest heavily. It also means that there are lesser chances of the server crashing due to an overload. Improved health of the origin server will lead to increased uptime.  

CDNs deliver reduced latency and reduce bandwidth consumption. It also helps boost the application’s security by blocking data scrappers and other spammers, DDoS attacks hitting your server. 

What difference does CDN make

We can understand the essential benefits of a CDN as the following. 

  1. Better and Reliable Website Performance with reduced latency, automatic redundancy between edge servers and minimized packet loss
  2. Improved scalability to handle traffic spikes
  3. Improved SEO – website loading speed is one of the most critical ranking factor for Google and other search engines
  4. Lower Costs by saving bandwidth with your web host
  5. Security against spammers and DDoS attacks

Lag times frustrate web and mobile users as today they have accustomed to real-time digital experiences. According to LoadStorm:

  1. 25% of users will abandon a website that takes longer than four seconds to load.
  2. 74% of users will abandon a mobile site that takes longer than five seconds to load.
  3. 46% of users won’t return to a poorly performing website.

Modern web service providers need to deliver a seamless and speedy delivery performance to the end-user, as it directly impacts the bottom-line. A well managed CDN service is going to play a key role in this.

Who can benefit from the CDN?

Any website or mobile application that’s getting a sizeable amount of traffic can benefit from a CDN. However, a CDN will be especially useful to large, complex websites that get visitors from across the globe, and for websites or mobile apps that have a lot of rich and dynamic content.

CDNs can also be very useful for small companies who do not have the expertise or the capital to invest in or build a massive infrastructure by themselves to handle large spikes in traffic. Therefore, CDNs provide scalability to these companies so that they can compete against the level of infrastructure that big competitors have. With a low point of entry, to utilize a state of the art infrastructure, startups can scale up and down as per their needs and deliver content quickly and efficiently even during times of heavy traffic. 

Mobile app-based companies can benefit from the service provided by a CDN to deliver dynamic location-based content for mobile apps, reducing load times, and increasing responsiveness.

How Does a CDN store the data

CDN servers cache HTML scripts, JavaScript and images in proxy servers. When a user requests data, the CDN directs the request to one of its edge servers that are located close to the user. If the content that the user has requested is found in the cache storage, then it serves the response. In case, the content is not cached; then the CDN makes an additional request to the origin server for the requested content. Then once the content is discovered, it responds to the user and then caches the data for future use. Thus, when a user requests the same information next time, the CDN can serve the content from its cache memory. A CDN utilizes best in class storage mechanisms for caching its content – It stores the cached files on solid-state or hard-disk drives (SSD and HDD) or both & in random-access memory (RAM).

An SSD storage is not only faster than an HDD storage but also more resilient since it can even access fragmented files in non-contiguous memory locations very efficiently. However, since an SSD storage is much more expensive than an HDD storage, most CDN service providers a mix of both storage mechanisms for storing and managing different types of files. 

The RAM is the speediest memory storage. Hence, the most commonly requested and the most frequently accessed files are hosted on the RAM. 

Wrapping Up

We have seen how a CDN utilizes superior storage technology and optimizes its architecture to deliver web applications – speedily and effectively. Today, it has become very important to provide a superior delivery performance in order to remain competitive, and a well-optimized CDNs are going to play an important role for websites in delighting and scaling their website visitors and app users.  

Medianova provides global CDN solutions – in streaming, encoding, caching, micro caching, hybrid CDN, and web site acceleration. We have delivered and manage CDN for leading enterprises, and our state-of-art solutions are benchmarked against industry-leading quality parameters.

Get in touch with Medianova. They can build and manage an optimized & dedicated CDN for you.