Explore how a CDN works under the hood to deliver fast, efficient and secure delivery of content to websites and Internet services.
A content delivery network (CDN) refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.
A properly configured CDN may also help protect websites against some common malicious attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks.
While a CDN does not host content and can’t replace the need for proper web hosting, it does help cache content at the network edge, which improves website performance. Many websites struggle to have their performance needs met by traditional hosting services, which is why they opt for CDNs.
By utilizing caching to reduce hosting bandwidth, helping to prevent interruptions in service, and improving security, CDNs are a popular choice to relieve some of the major pain points that come with traditional web hosting.
Although the benefits of using a CDN vary depending on the size and needs of an Internet property, the primary benefits for most users can be broken down into 4 different components:
At its core, a CDN is a network of servers linked together with the goal of delivering content as quickly, cheaply, reliably, and securely as possible. In order to improve speed and connectivity, a CDN will place servers at the exchange points between different networks.
These Internet exchange points (IXPs) are the primary locations where different Internet providers connect in order to provide each other access to traffic originating on their different networks. By having a connection to these high speed and highly interconnected locations, a CDN provider is able to reduce costs and transit times in high speed data delivery.
Beyond placement of servers in IXPs, a CDN makes a number of optimizations on standard client/server data transfers. CDNs place Data Centers at strategic locations across the globe, enhance security, and are designed to survive various types of failures and Internet congestion.
When it comes to websites loading content, users drop off quickly as a site slows down. CDN services can help to reduce load times in the following ways:
Explore all the ways a CDN helps websites load faster
Uptime is a critical component for anyone with an Internet property. Hardware failures and spikes in traffic, as a result of either malicious attacks or just a boost in popularity, have the potential to bring down a web server and prevent users from accessing a site or service. A well-rounded CDN has several features that will minimize downtime:
Learn more about how a CDN helps keep websites online
Information security is an integral part of a CDN. a CDN can keep a site secured with fresh TLS/SSL certificates which will ensure a high standard of authentication, encryption, and integrity. Investigate the security concerns surrounding CDNs, and explore what can be done to securely deliver content. Learn about CDN SSL/TLS security
Every time an origin server responds to a request, bandwidth is consumed. See how a CDN, like the Cloudflare CDN, cuts down on origin requests. (coming soon)
After reading this article you will be able to:
What is Anycast?
What is a CDN Data Center?
What is an Origin Server?
What is an Edge Server?