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A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of multiple computers that contains copies of data stored at various network nodes. A well designed and appropriately implemented CDN improves data access by enhancing bandwidth and minimizing access latency. Generally, CDN content can include Web objects, applications, database queries, downloadable data objects and media streams.
An established CDN consists of several computer nodes that are networked on the Internet to provide users with access to large amounts of media or data.
A CDN is also known as a content distribution network.
A complete CDN architecture is made up of various individual components working toward the common goal of delivering service to the end-user community. A common example of a CDN can be a consolidated file server that is used as the user application and data file warehouse. The common functions associated with the content delivery network include file accessibility, application processing, multimedia delivery and caching. A complete CDN has the ability to exhibit functionalities that are only possible because of the participation of each separate CDN component.
Customarily, a CDN is operated as an application service provider over the Internet. Many renowned Internet network vendors like ATT have designed their own content delivery networks to cater to the content customer market.
Generally, CDN nodes are installed on various distant locations that can cover multiple backbones. These network nodes assist each other in fulfilling end-user content requests to optimize the service delivery process. The number of servers and computer nodes participating to form the CDN varies with respect to the network architecture.
The strategically placed servers have a higher capacity compared to a network backbone, which maximizes the potential to increase the number of simultaneous users. In addition, such strategically placed edge servers lower the delivery time and decrease load on public and private peers, backbones and interconnects. A CDN manages the full load of traffic by readdressing it toward the edge servers.