What is a CDN (Content Delivery Network) and Why You Should Have It :
Getting global has never been easier:
It’s easy to forget how extremely difficult it is to provide information all around the globe now that we have the Internet. Phone companies charge a lot if you want to call someone in a different country, but on the Internet it seemingly the same whether the site your loading is actually located on a machine half a planet away from you. And while billing might be the same, it’s loading speeds that are different, and CDNs are here to help with that.
To explain our problem in further detail – the information that passes between continents to get Internet across the globe travels on optic cables, which are thousands of miles long and sometimes pass through the ocean. Infrastructure, though very advanced, still uses lots of junctions, and they get even more when the distance between you and someone far away is several continents. All that jumping , routing and physical time required for information to travel can take up to 10 seconds. And some users simply aren’t that patient. So what can be done to remedy that ?
A Content Delivery Network – different locations, same speeds:
What a CDN does is to host your information on some of the largest junctions of the Internet in various continents. That’s right – the images and videos on your blog are kept in several different places , once first uploaded to the central one.
This guarantees that if you are, say, in Sydney , when a user from Paris loads your website, they’ll get the content from somewhere in Europe. This makes it quite faster, since you would agree that for information to travel from London to Paris, for example , would be quite faster than for the information to travel from Sydney to Paris.
You’ve probably already seen that in action, even if you didn’t know it was CDN. When you download drivers for your computer, you are asked for your location or it is auto-detected so that they’ll download faster. And sites like Sourceforge , which were pioneers in this, offer you to choose mirrors to downloading the same file faster.
The great benefit of CDN is that it’s automated – neither you nor the user need to do a single thing after the system is set up.
Implementation and costs :
Due to the high attention given to it by leading expert bloggers, some people have bothered to make implementation easier , even for the ones who are not so technologically advanced. For example, there’s a WordPress plugin that will incorporate CDN in your blog with as much as 20 minutes of work. And that includes buying your CDN plan and setting CDN up. Yet if you run your own piece of software for a site, it would only make sense that it’s your responsibility to figure out a way to make it compatible with Content Delivery Networks.
Having figured out that implementation may or may not be as difficult, now it’s time to focus on cost. Different companies offer different packages, depending on how much traffic your site would need, how much locations are available to you or how much you actually want. If your target audience is in the US and Australia , but you don’t need your Asian market, you can order a plan that has more CDN nodes in the states, and none in Asia, and this would affect pricing.
The cheapest service is offered by CloudFlare , for $20 a month, though cheaper offers may come sooner.
Additional benefits of CDN :
A site running on a CDN is harder to hack , with all the distributed copies of the same thing in different locations. Also, having the CDN handle lots of the traffic from the larger files on your site (the images and videos) you might pay less for traffic on your shared hosting account, or have some additional bandwidth to use, as you like.
Though these are not the original purposes of a CDN, they are certainly desired side effects which may also be used to your advantage if you’re planning on going big with your website.
The more your company starts growing global, or your blog’s visitors start coming from lots of different locations ,the more need you will have of a CDN.