Where do Content Delivery Networks (CDN) Fit in an Everchanging World?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) carries the content from your website to a multitude of servers strategically located around the world, thus enabling data providers the ability to optimize web page distribution without overusing bandwidth and thus adversely reducing load time. The more visitors a website elicits, the greater the demand on its servers. In order for a popular site to operate at maximum capacity, several variables exist. One such variable is controlling the demands placed on the server by disseminating requests through a multitude of servers. With that in mind, many companies are turning to the CDN option as a way to avoid bottlenecking their server.

CDNs now serve a large percentage of content, including URLs, text, graphics, scripts, media files, software, documents, applications for e-commerce, even live streaming media, on demand streaming media and social networks. Companies pay the CDN operators delivering their content to the end users. Then CDN pays Internet Service Providers (ISPs), network operators and carriers for hosting their servers in their data centers.

A CDN behaves like a cache, storing copies of your information on its servers, so when your visitors view a webpage, they are actually receiving the data from a server that is close to them. A reduction in traffic translates into faster load time and a more user friendly website.

Websites with traffic above 500,000 views per month can benefit from CDN to improve load time and user experience. Reducing load time to serve content quickly, CDN allows you to serve static content like Javascript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and images from the CDN while serving the text content from your hosting server database.

With that in mind, selecting CDN as a means of disseminating information more effectively seems an obvious choice. But here is the catch. CDN works best for websites with a need to provide data rapidly to a vast geographical audience with heavy hits and a multitude of requests. If your target audience, let’s say is in China, you may want to have a server in Singapore. So that is great for companies with a worldwide audience, but many companies depend on local traffic to maintain their business.

An alternative option to CDN is the utilization of a local server that serves all the static content including images, css, pdfs, media streaming, graphics, scripts, software, documents and applications on a static server. The benefit of using this method for a local or national business is the elimination of useless cookies for objects that do not need tracking. The advantage of the cookiless server is that the files will not only load in parallel, hence speeding up the delivery, but also reduce the network traffic by eliminating those cookies. The savings are approximately 1KB for each object retrieved from the Static Server(s).

CDN could be well be an acronym for Cooperative Delivery Network. This is because when you subscribe to a CDN method of delivery, in essence you are paying a service provider to rent space in a multitude of locations that serve a multitude of clients rather than utilizing one server. This can become a costly proposition for small to midsize companies who rely on productive hits, not heavy traffic for success. It is important to understand the distinction. There are many online businesses who offer free information, tools and advice in order to obtain heavy traffic and increase ranking to become attractive to advertisers. In these cases CDN is definitely a viable option.

There are many options available in the world of web hosting environments. What works best for you really depends on what kind of business you have and your individual needs. Keep in mind that sometimes less really is more. A minimalist approach can often be the most effective and productive way to conduct your business efficiently and not lose track of the bottom line.

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