Content delivery networks (CDN) are what one can term as the unseen pillar holding up the intricate workings of the internet, which is taking charge of a myriad of content delivery. In other words, this is a system of servers, acting as a network, delivering web content to users. Such operations are based on the geographic location of each user in relation to the webpage origin and the server itself. CDNs are in the background, behind every image, text and movie that is delivered to any PC or mobile browser.
One of the advantages of CDNs is the reduction in delay duration of such transfers. This so-called latency can be affected mainly by the physical distance between the website’s hosting server and the client. Hence the closer the server is in geographical terms to the user, the fast the content will be, while also protecting from extreme surges of online traffic.
The lack of a CDN results in the content origin servers need to respond to every single end user request. When the response to end user requests is made in closer physical and network proximity, both content provider and user would benefit, thus improving the web experience.
What is a CDN?
A CDN can be defined as a globally distributed network of web servers. These are also known as Points of Presence (PoP) whicj serve to provide fast content delivery. This is significantly more efficient than the traditional method of content storage on a single, central server. This is automatically more efficient, as traditional bottlenecks are avoided when clients start accessing data closer to them, which automatically results in a much-improved user experience, based on a more efficient network resource utilization.
CDNs do not only decrease the load in traffic from the origin server (since content is being distributed from our sources), but this also decreases the overall cost. This benefit can be paired up with the effectiveness of such systems against DDoS attacks, as the increased size of the server infrastructure tends to absorb such attacks, causing less vulnerability.
How does a CDN work?
A CDN operates by storing cached versions of contents in several geographical locations, known also as PoPs. Each of these PoPs distributes content to visitors in their proximity through a number of such caching servers. Basically, a CDN places the provider’s content in several places at once, hence providing superior coverage to users, being a much quicker operation than having the visitor’s requests and the provider’s responses, travelling back and forth across the whole distance. This process of bouncing is non-visible to the user, and such CDN activity can only be noticeable if the delivered URL is different from the requested URL.
Who uses a Content Delivery Network?
Nowadays, CDNs are already serving over half of online traffic, with more and more organisations using content delivery networks as a means of accelerating the travel of any type of content. These numbers are rapidly on the increase, as more aspects of our daily life are being done remotely. CDNs do not deliver website content only. Other content such as: video, audio streams and software, together with data records of medical and financial nature are also commonly delivered through CDNs. Many varied sectors operate through the use of CDNs, including, media and entertainment, online gaming, advertising, e-commerce, higher education and government services. CDNs are a major use of data transfer for most B2B transactions and content servicing to consumers.
The benefits of using a CDN
Delays are not something that online users are accustomed to, and nor will such occurrences be acceptable to the online community. Transactions across the world are accruing a need to become ever faster. Content is being transferred between more and more content providers, content publishers and online vendors. CDNs are the key to facilitating this burgeoning communications phenomenon. Through such reduction of congestion, CDNs are improving and enhancing internet performance, even when internet users are accessing websites simultaneously and traffic is at alarming peaks.
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