What Does Content Delivery Network (CDN) Mean?
A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of cache servers that will deliver website content from whichever server is geographically closest to the site visitor. CDN services enable faster, more reliable page load times by serving some types of a website’s content from the CDN instead of the server where the actual website pages are hosted.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are used to accommodate traffic spikes and improve a website’s performance and reliability by reducing latency. Large websites, such as Google, maintain their own CDNs. Smaller website publishers and e-commerce vendors can purchase CDN services from a well-known group of providers that maintain their own server networks.
Techopedia Explains Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content delivery networks use geolocation services to deliver website content to website visitors quickly and efficiently. CDN providers can either be regional or global.
How a Content Delivery Network Works
When a publisher or e-commerce vendor purchases CDN services, copies of the website content will be duplicated and stored on the provider's servers in different geographical regions.
The provider's servers, which are referred to as points of presence (POP), use the requesting device’s IP address to match the device’s physical location with the closest CDN server. Once the closest server has been located through a GeoIP lookup table, it is referred to as the session’s edge server.
Benefits of Using a Content Delivery Network
Some of the benefits a CDN can provide website managers include:
- Optimizing website performance and user experience (UX) by improving page load times.
- Providing scalability by automatically increasing the number of designated edge servers during times of heavy traffic.
- Potentially decreasing infrastructure costs for maintaining the site’s point of origin.
- Saving bandwidth and lowering the negative impact of traffic spikes at the website’s point of origin.
- Distributing firmware updates to IoT endpoints faster.
- Improving response times for browser-based games.
Examples of Popular Content Delivery Network Providers and Pricing
Organizations typically purchase CDN services from CDN providers, which maintain their own server networks. CDN services are often purchased through yearly or monthly service contracts. As the internet of things (IoT) continues to grow, an increasing number of CDN providers are offering tiered services or pay-per-use fee models.
Well-known examples of CDN providers (with links to their pricing structures) include:
Azure Content Delivery Network
Google Cloud CDN