Diving deeper into the surface of tech terms and jargon, you may come across the acronym “CDN.” This tech buzzword is definitely some of the more unusual ones, but it has been gaining a bit of popularity over recent years.
In this article, we aim to teach you more about CDNs. We’re going to provide you with a brief description of CDN, a short illustration of how it works, and a description of its expected users, and we’re also going to tap on a simple comparison between AWS CloudFront vs. Fastly, which are two of the hottest CDN options in the market to date. By the end of this text, you should hopefully be a little bit more familiar with this tech area.
What exactly is a CDN?
CDN stands for content delivery network. CDN is a term that refers to a network of proxy servers that are distributed geographic-wise. It’s a relatively new development in tech, which only started around the late 1990s. The goal behind the development of CDNs is to alleviate some performance issues and shortcomings of the internet. Basically, it aims to expedite the delivery of content to the end users by distributing content into multiple local distribution outlets rather than all coming from a single, centralized server. Today, CDNs have further developed to cater to different types of content, including web objects, downloadable objects, applications, streaming media, and social media.
How does a CDN work?
The concept behind CDNs can be conveniently explained by comparing it to a package delivery system. Think of internet content as packages that all come from a single warehouse where all packages are stored. Once an order goes through, these packages are shipped and sent to the addresses of the customers. Because there is only one warehouse, the delivery of packages may take longer for those that are not as geographically accessible or simply out of the convenient reach of the warehouse. In such a scenario, delays will inevitably occur.
To minimize delays, CDNs are strategically put up across different areas to optimize the delivery of content to the end users. Following our illustration, CDNs can be considered as individual local storage hubs that each cover its own unique geographic radius. In this type of system, orders can be catered to much more quickly because it would not take as long for the package to be delivered as it is readily available to the customer. This illustration is a rough and simple explanation of how CDNs operate in the real world.
Who can benefit from CDNs?
CDNs can be extremely beneficial for those companies and organizations that are regularly producing and processing various types of internet content. To cite some specific examples, CDNs are typically used by media and e-commerce companies to deliver their content to their targeted demographic. In addition, CDNs help to achieve the following: make loading times faster, make content more optimized, and reduce bandwidth usage.
Which option should you choose?
Because CDNs are becoming more and more essential to a wide array of internet users, tons of options have emerged in the market for CDN services. Out of the plethora of options available, CloudFront and Fastly are often put head to head because of their market-topping offers. As with all CDN options in the market, you can expect to receive the same services. However, there are going to be some unique distinctions between the options, which could be more beneficial to your purpose of availing of CDN services. For instance, while CloudFront may have more servers overall, Fastly does feature more servers in North America.
Ideally, you would want to have a CDN provider with more servers for the region you are mainly targeting. Through this strategy, you optimize the delivery of content to your targeted demographic, which could boost revenues/sales, increase traction, and improve company performance.