What Is A CDN? Why Do We Use It?

Author: Jake | Created: 10-01-2021

What is a CDN?

CDN stands for a Content Delivery Network. This is a highly distrubuted platform of servers which help minimise delay times in loading a web page and its content, it does this by reducing the physical distance between the server and users. This helps users anywhere in the world to view the same high quality content but without the slow loading times.

If for example we didn't use a CDN then content origin servers would have to respond to every single end user request, resulting in significant traffic to the origin and a subsequent load. This means there is a much higher chance for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the traffic load is consistent. By using a CDN, we are offloading traffic from content servers and improving the web experience, thus benefiting both the content provider and the end users, which also gains respect from the almighty Google.

How does a CDN work?

Okay so now you are probably asking yourself 'this sounds cool, but how does it work?'

A Content Delivery Network is a global cluster of caches that can serve as local caches for static files (objects). Once a user visits a website or an application, it requests certain files (images, PDF's, JavaScript, CSS files) and instead of the hosting server responding with these objects, the CDN takes care of them instead. A CDN will take the geo-location of the user into account, so the file will be served from the cache-node closest to the user. This means data becomes avaliable to the user at lightning speed, completely independant of the location of the website or application.

For example, a US visitor wanting to view content which originates at a UK-based server will experience poor loading times if this request has to travel across the Atlantic. This is where a CDN comes in, as it stores a cached version of your website or application in multiple geographical locations around the world, which is known as "points of presence" (PoPs). So instead of the website downloading the content from a server across the globe, it will use a PoPs much closer to the user.

So why do we use a CDN?

To put it simply, a CDN offers a way to increase the speed of a website or application while also lowering the latency. This means CDN's are essential for the fast, efficient and secure delivery of content to users around the world. What makes using a CDN more interesting is that it is not limited to websites and apps, it can also comprise 4K and HD quality video, audio streams, games and even OS updates. With the internet traffic growing at a rapid pace and visitors attention spans growing shorter by the day, it is vital that the content is delivered as quickly as possible.

The world of business is going online, whether that is to shop, connect or share, content providers face an increasing number of challenges such as delivering different types of content, adjusting content for different devices and securing data and the online presence of their end users. Due to the capablities of a Content Delivery Network means providers like us here at Rococo Digital, are uniquely positioned to help businesses overcome diverse challenges the modern era has created.

We hope this article helped you understand more about what CDN's are and how they are beneficial. If you want to know more on how we could help then please call us on 01903 357002.