Content Delivery Network

What Does Content Delivery Network 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.

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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

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:

Akamai
Amazon CloudFront
Azure Content Delivery Network
CacheFly
Cloudflare
Fastly
Google Cloud CDN
KeyCDN
Rackspace
StackPath
Sucuri

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…