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What is a CDN and how it has been evolving in 2018


Content delivery networks commonly known as CDN is the latest technology which completely changes the way, how information is delivered over the internet. Nowadays everyone uses it, and if you are thinking like no way, I have never used it; then you are wrong. No matter what you do, or what type of content you consume, directly or indirectly we all interact with CDN every time we surf the internet for reading an article, shopping online or watching YouTube videos.

In a straightforward language; A CDN or Content Delivery Networks helps in the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, JavaScript files, stylesheets, images, and videos. Although it must not be confused with the Hosting services; as CDN are not able to host your data on any web server, they only cache content of applications and uses that cached content to improve the website performance.

CDN is there for a very long amount of time, but in the last couple of years their popularity has increased many folds and is still continuously growing. Today the majority of web traffic is served through CDNs. Even the biggest name on the Internet like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Netflix, etc. also uses it to increase their user experience and provide the content in a much faster way.

You can understand CDN as a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers. The goal of this is to spread the service in a smooth way so that it is relatively nearer to the end user which results in high availability and high performance. Many People think CDN as a single entity, but in reality, CDN is an umbrella term for all the different types of individual content delivery services under it like video streaming, software downloads, web, and mobile content acceleration licensed/managed CDN, transparent caching, etc.

How CDNs Work – Technology Behind It  


The primary goal of Content Delivery Networks is to minimize the distance between the visitors and your website servers. For achieving this, nodes or CDNs server are usually deployed at multiple locations, often over multiple backbones which stores the cached version of its content and is responsible for content delivery to visitors within its serving range. Basically, you can say that A CDN puts your content in many places at once, providing superior coverage to your users in a faster manner.

The number of nodes and servers making up a CDN varies, depending on the various factors like the architecture of the node, the number of visitors they want to serves and many more. But the basic strategy is the same in every kind of CDN network, i.e., a network of servers linked together with the goal of delivering content as quickly, cheaply, reliably, and securely as possible.

Let’s understand all this with the help of an example:

Assume that when someone living in Los Angeles accesses you UK Server-based website, it is served through a local US PoP (Point of Presence) which will take some time. But what if the request made by the user in LA is served by a server nearest to them. This is where the CDN comes into play. If your site is using the CDN, then a cached image of your site is transmitted over all the nodes with that CDN Network, and whenever a request is made, it is served by the nearest server to that request which ensures the faster delivery of the content.

While this was how CDNs used to work earlier, but now CDNs have come up with a new method known as “Delivery Optimization”. When you visit a website on your PC, the cached copy of that website is stored on your PC. Now if someone from your nearby area requests for the same resource and the CDN servers are busy or far than your location, you will server the data to the servers. This is how Akamai Technologies, who serves 30% of total Internet traffic works.

Benefits of using a Content Delivery Network


Although there are lots of benefits of using a CDN and it also depends on the type and size of CDN you are using as there are different types of CDN for different purposes. But the primary benefits of using a Content Delivery network is as follows.

  1. Faster Loading Time of the Websites and Apps

As CDN distribute your content to all the nodes present in their network which make it possible for the website having a faster loading time as the nearest CDN server serves the request to the user. Along with the faster loading time, it also helps you in reducing your bounce rate and user engagement to your site.

  1. Reduction in Bandwidth Cost

With the help of caching and other optimizations, CDNs can really help you in reducing your bandwidth cost as they reduce the amount of data an original server or the server where your site is hosted initially must provide.

  1. Increasing content availability and redundancy

With CDNs, you can increase your content availability and redundancy as CDN can handle a large amount of traffic and hardware failure due to this is generally not a thing in content delivery.

  1. Improving website security

CDN helps you in developing your website security by providing you the protection from the   DDoS mitigation and other types of attacks.

  1. Handle high traffic loads – Load Balancing

With better-distributed server nature, a CDN can handle the high amount of traffic and withstand hardware failure better than many origin servers. With CDNs, you can also easily use the load balancing services CDN’s reverse proxy topology is ideal for this, as is the default recipient of all incoming traffic.

CDNs Evolution – Historical Events

  1. Akamai Technologies evolved out of an MIT research tried the first time to solve this problem of distributed Content Delivery
  2. By 2002, large-scale ISPs started building their own CDN functionality, providing customized services
  3. More than 3000 companies were found to use CDNs, millions of dollars in it.

In 2005, CDN revenue for both streaming video and Internet radio was estimated to grow at 40%

  1. In 2008 Amazon launched their Content Delivery Network
  2. In 2011 AT&T announces their new cloud-based Content Delivery Network that enables content to flow from its 38 data centers around the world to reduce transit and latency times
  3. Akamai’s stock revenue for 2012 is reported to be $345.32 million
  4. More investment keeps pouring in for the further development of this technologies by the internet giants like Microsoft and Google.
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