What is a content delivery network?
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) comprises a proxy servers scattered across the globe. Servers are computers with an increased memory; vast hard drive space; numerous networks and CPUs. These proxies work as intermediaries to simplify requests between clients and servers.
This process ensures that there is a server nearby to accommodate user requests, making a service faster. A CDN can take a request from someone trying to access your website and direct the request to a server which can process it faster. This can be because the server the client trying to access is too far away from the main server and a closer one can take the request. Or, it could be that the closest server is too busy and it would be faster to access the second closest.
Using CDNs to increase webpage load speed
It is recommended CDNs are used to lower the load speed of a website. Internet users are increasingly impatient and want a quick, seamless user experience on a website. It is important that sites load quickly and search engines such as Google give a ranking boost to faster loading websites.
Companies offering content - like news or shopping - will pay a CDN company to deliver their services to the users, so that news is local and fast. Additionally, large companies may also want a content delivery network because they might get too much traffic for one server to be able to handle.
CDNs for global services
A CDN is useful for those services that have a global reach because operating from one server would mean accessing it from anywhere else would have a slower connection. The closer a user is to the server, the faster the connection. Additionally, a CDN will prevent large surges of traffic on one server.
To find out whether you need a CDN for a business, it is important to think about the target audience and the importance placed on those customers accessing the service from other parts of the world.
The current use of CDNs
Over half of all traffic on the web is served by CDNs, but there are cases where a CDN can harm accessibility to a service. Other advantages of a CDN include website security where the proxy server can block DDoS floods and other attacks. Moreover, load balancing is much easier because the proxy server is able to direct traffic to less accessed servers.
There are many companies offering CDN services, including Cloudflare, MaxCDN and LeaseWeb. Prices can range from small, personal website and blog fees, to £200 for eCommerce websites and business websites requiring prioritised support, to an even higher cost for large, international companies needing full support.