What Is a CDN? What Are the Benefits?

8 Crucial Benefits a CDN Provides

A Content delivery network (CDN) is a geographically distributed network of data centres. CDN's are the backbone of content delivery on the internet and it's likely a CDN is behind every piece of content you consume, be it a video, this article and so on. These are designed to solve the global issue of latency; the delay that occurs when you request to load a web-page to the point it becomes visible.

How does a CDN Work?

CDN's act as an extra network of information for your content by caching everything in extra geographical locations. The purpose of this is to drastically improve load times for the user. These cached servers act as a delivery system to those within its proximity. For example, If someone from Hong Kong tries to access your website, instead of your original server providing the information, they will receive the content from their closest local Cache server, thus greatly reducing the time in which they receive the information.

Why is this important? According to Kissmetrics, 47% of users expect a page to load within 2 seconds whilst 40% will leave after 3 seconds or more if it fails to load. These are important statistics and highlight how impactful it is to have a website that loads quickly. Failure to do so results in loss of customer conversion and retention.

In basic terms, a CDN stores your content in multiple places across the globe. This enables users from many different locations to access your content quickly, without waiting for distribution from your original server.

There are many inner workings to how CDN's work, Incapsula go into substantial detail if you're interested in reading more into it.

Advantages of using a CDN

CDN's are becoming more widely used each year with some users and businesses opting to use more than one CDN. The full scope of advantages varies from CDN to CDN as some offer different levels of features. For instance, Cloud Flare offers a free package that doesn't include the same features and benefits as their other packages, and rightly so.

At Devmac, we use CloudFlare as our dedicated CDN, as such, this information corresponds to our experience with them. The major advantages of using one are:

1. Significant Improvement In Load Speeds 

By allowing the user to access your content through a cache server geographically close to them, you are able to cut the load times of your pages dramatically. This also increases customer retention and satisfaction and creates an overall more enjoyable viewing experience for the user.

2. Advantageous Impact on SEO 

Whilst the overall impact on SEO rankings isn't something that can be directly measured, Google has previously stated that faster loading pages will perform better. A CDN can only improve your pages load speed, and whilst it can be very difficult to measure what rankings are a result of, using one can stands to improve your chances of a boost in performance.

Benefits of CDNs

3. Added Security With Protection From Attacks 

We have discussed how CDN's can help defend against DOS/DDOS attacks in a previous article. CDN's act as an additional barrier to your original server and infrastructure. If you were the victim of a DOS attack, the attack would have to first go through your dedicated CDN until it was able to reach you.

Most of these will be able to sustain the additional traffic from an attack and keep your website live and running. However, Depending on the severity of an attack it may not be able to, but it will allow your business some time to prepare and act to minimise the damage.

DDOS attacks can have serious implications for your business and your website. In some cases, websites are taken down for multiple days. If you do not have someone on hand to solve the issue, you could be looking at losing thousands of revenue every hour. You can learn more about DDOS and their impact here.

4. Enables Global Reach 

The global use of the internet has increased exponentially over the last decade which raises the need to be accessible everywhere. CDN's provide a solution through local POPs. This eliminates any latency issues that interrupts accessibility through long-distance online transactions and viewing.

5. Maximum availability 

CDN's implement automatic server availability sensing mechanisms that instantly redirect users. Because of this, websites utilising a CRM stay available through local power outages and network problems. Meaning your website can be earning you money whilst you are facing problems.

6. Financially Efficient 

Businesses can use a CRM to mitigate a lot of costs that come from hiring individual service providers. Rather than investing profits into an infrastructure and/or separate service providers across the globe, a CDN that provides global coverage can negate the costs of foreign hosting.

CDN's also cost a respectfully lower amount than most alternatives and are recommended for businesses operating on tight budgets.

7. Provides Important Analytical Data 

CDN's can also provide valuable analytical information that can be used to the advantage of the business. This information can provide leads for occurring trends that can then be implemented into advertising campaigns.

Businesses can also use this information to spot potential strengths to exploit or weaknesses to improve on.

8. Use of SSL Encryption without an SSL Certificate 

“CloudFlare automatically provisions SSL certificates that are shared by multiple customer domains” An SSL is not only important for security reasons but also to build credibility and trust with your users.

The only downside to using a provided SSL through a CDN is that they aren't suitable for E-commerce use. Google has announced that come July 2018, all none Https:// websites will be labelled as "not secure". Enabling SSL has never been more important for brand perception. If you are unfamiliar with Google's upcoming update, we have covered everything here.

Cloud Flare is our go-to CDN. With increasing security concerns, we have begun implementing Cloud Flare for our clients. However, this service is not exclusive, If you are worried about your website's security give us a call on 01332 477575 or email Admin@devmac.co.uk and we'll give you some options! We're here to help.

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