A CDN is one of the most beneficial optimization components that a business can have. Online presence, content accessibility, and website speeds are necessities as we find ourselves in the midst of the digital age. Familiarizing yourself with CDNs and their benefits will certainly aid in determining how to get your users their content fast and efficiently. Here is helpful information on how to optimize website performance with a CDN.
What Is A CDN?
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) has servers located world wide which helps to reduce latency between a user request and how fast their content from the website loads. These servers work together to both optimize website speeds and provide users with quick access to the content that they desire. Website speeds are optimized and increased by CDNs because a CDN temporarily keeps your website’s content on servers that are closer to end users than the server of origin.
To elaborate, let’s look at an example: Let’s say your website is hosted in Los Angeles and a user is attempting to access it from Germany. In this scenario, a CDN will retrieve the website’s content from an “edge server” that is closer to the end user. This provides the user with faster website speeds than if the user tried to access the content from the server that hosts the original website in LA.
How Does a CDN Work?
CDNs are made up of servers that host the website’s content. However, the owner of the site/business will still require traditional web hosting in order to efficiently operate their site. A CDN will always refer back to the original website content stored on the origin store in case any updates or changes are made to the website.
There are two options when considering an origin store. The first is an on-premises server located at your business headquarters. However, cloud storage is more commonly used due to the fact that it can scale up and down in terms of pricing as your website content changes either in quality or quantity. Cloud storage serves to eliminate the need for pricier on-premises servers.
CDN providers set up their edge servers at Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). These Exchange Points are premeditated points in which web traffic flows between different internet service providers. Essentially, an IXP operates like a highway, with many lanes.
It should be stated that IXPs do not store your website’s content all of the time. First, a user must request your website’s content. After the request is made, the content is held at the IXP for the duration of the time in which the content is requested. This period of time is referred to as the TTL (time to live). If content isn’t requested within the TTL, the IXP will no longer store the content.
What Are the Benefits of a CDN?
A CDN provides many metrics that are useful for business/site owners. One of these beneficial metrics is known as RTT (round trip time). This metric specifies the time it takes for a user request to travel to its destination and back again. RTTs help website owners determine the speed of network connections. The primary purpose of implementing a CDN is to reduce the overall RTT, thus increasing user satisfaction.
The cache-hit ratio is another important metric provided with a CDN. Cache hits refer to users pulling content from an edge server. A cache miss refers to a user accessing content from the origin store. The ratio of cache hits to cache misses determines the cache-hit ratio. This is an integral metric for those who use cloud storage as their origin store. The better the cache-hit ratio, the less cloud storage providers charge in egress fees, which are charged by providers for their provision of sending data out of their systems.
CDNs are beneficial for any company that wants to optimize website speeds. The companies that have the most to benefit are those with content-heavy sites and/or a broad geographic reach. CDNs offer lower bandwidth costs, improved security measures, and scalability/redundancy during peak periods of website traffic. Business can undoubtedly reap many benefits when implementing a CDN. Understanding how to optimize website performance with a CDN ensures optimal implementation and results.