Content Delivery Networks: Why Your Business Website Needs a Latency Solver

Written by Zed on 14th November 2016

With digital marketing dominating online and business trends for some time now, you’ve probably already learned everything there is to be learned about content generation and shareability.

Despite the unbeatable fact that content is still the king, its reach can sometimes be thwarted. To be able to share your business message with the world, you’ll need to amplify your content beacon signals as much as you can.

Thus came the far-spreading influence of CDNs.

Before setting off to discuss why your business landing page absolutely needs this powerful solution, take some time to learn the basics behind content delivery network systems.

What’s What in the CDN Architecture

Although a complicated notion, a CDN can be both simplistically explained and easy to steer.

As defined by FirstsideGuide, a content delivery network is “a system of interconnected servers located across the globe that uses geographical proximity as the main criteria for distributing cached Web content and web pages to end users.”

Being that it’s based on an infrastructure that deals with terms lesser known to the general public, we’ll take a moment to explain the main components behind CDNs before continuing on.

That way, the importance, usage and benefits of these systems described below will be much easier to understand.

PoPs. Otherwise known as Points of Presence, this crucial part of a CDN story goes to show the very reason why globally-aimed websites need content delivery networks in the first place.

In plain words, Points of Presence are data centers from which website visitors consume or download their content, strategically positioned in close proximity to the majority of data users.

Cache Servers. If Points of Presence are virtual content storage spots, then cashing servers are their delivery system.

In order to perform, they need to be spacious enough in terms of storage drives and RAM resources.

Ultimately, their job is to speed up website load times (that annoying circle that keeps spinning until your movie is finally ready for streaming) and make bandwidth consumption smaller.

SSD/HDD & RAM. The physical storage and memory drives embedded into every cache server and responsible for keeping cached files safe and sound before sending them over to users.

The Alternative Shortcut

Let’s say you’ve just ordered your morning coffee in your favorite Barcelona café.

While waiting for the barista to do his magic and present you with a freshly brewed beverage to fuel your system for the day, your comfortably tucked in self hits the web in pursuit of some spicy global news.

First stop – The New York Times.

There’s a juicy article about the Trump-Clinton presidential debate published 2 hours ago, and, eager to treat yourself with a portion of political drama, you click.

In the world without CDNs, a NY-based server would at that point send a digital signal – a carrier of the content, a.k.a. an article you impatiently want to read – from somewhere in Manhattan straight to Eixample.

With an ocean that needs to be crossed, a signal would need some time to reach its final destination, thus keeping you at the edge of your armchair.

Somewhere around the time the signal finally arrives and the article page opens, your coffee would already have turned cold.

Luckily, we do live in a world where data traffic is supported by content delivery networks, making it highly unlikely for the imagined scenario to happen wherever there’s a Wi-Fi connection fast enough to receive the signal sent from the Big Apple.

What would actually happen is this: instead of exchanging data with a native server based in a city across the ocean, your digital request would be sent to its Point of Presence situated in Barcelona, in your nearest proximity.

It All Began With Latency

If not obvious enough, CDNs were invented to battle against the most annoying disturbance in the internet force – the delay between the moment you click to open the page and the moment the content of the page actually appears before your eyes.

In technical terms, this delay is called latency, and it happens because of the physical distance between a website’s server (NY Times.com) and a website’s user (you).

In order to work around that distance and prevent the latency, a CDN stores a cached version of the website’s content in PoPs, located in different geographical points, and sends it to the user from there.

With the range shortened and the delay beaten, the users get to consume the content at such velocity that they never have to acknowledge the CDN’s mediatory presence at all.

Does Your Business Need a CDN of Its Own?

If you’re keeping your business operations local, then no. In such a case, your audience is close and a CDN would actually cause unnecessary website performance issues.

Contrary to that, international and other far-reaching businesses absolutely need content delivery support.

All those cutting-edge website design solutions, granny-proof interfaces and intuitive navigation models implemented on your landing page are not of any worth whatsoever if your website visitors have to be put on hold while trying to access it.

Being a consumer-savvy businessman yourself, you don’t have to be told about how little patience the modern-day online audience has for any kinds of halts and mishaps.

To make it perfectly clear, if you are in the marketing, media, entertainment, online gaming, e-commerce or healthcare niche, and are offering your products and services on a global or any kind of scale that goes beyond local, a suitable content delivery network should be a part of your website support system without any excuses.

What Are the Benefits?

Apart from making your landing page load speed work at high velocity, content delivery networks have a couple of other benefits up their digital sleeves.

Securing the Content. By their nature, CDNs provide outside access to your domain, which is why their developers had to go the extra mile in protecting your content.

By now, these systems are already refined and upgraded to the extent of absolute cybersecurity, thus acting as powerful firewalls against intruders.

Keeping the Flow. As explained before, CDNs make virtual cache copies of the original data from your website server and distribute and store them at multiple PoPs, therefore making data traffic a bit more crowded.

Aware of the issue, CDN makers have empowered their brainchild with a potent traffic jam monitoring system that measures bandwidth consumption with stark precision.

Once the jam has been spotted on one of the channels, CDNs automatically redirect signals to an unhampered one, thus effectively distributing data flow.

It’s Easy to Start Using, As Well!

If interested in employing a CDN system of your own, the first thing you’ll need to do is to return to your root domain configurations and examine the compatibility of its subdomains.

The entire process is nowhere near complicated, and it rarely lasts longer than 10 minutes.

In case pushing and clicking the right buttons isn’t exactly one of your strengths, feel free to rely on your CDN vendor of choice – the best of them provide all the necessary instructions, practical assistance and support you need to join the content delivery network flock.

Most commonly, the greatest solutions are the ones we never notice, and that certainly applies to content delivery networks as well – as long as they keep the dialogue between us, as consumers and providers, open, we will continue forgetting all about their massive importance.

But when it comes to ambitious online business undertakings, they are absolutely indispensable.

nick2

Nick Colakovic works for firstsiteguide.com. He’s passionate about helping other bloggers take their craft to the next level and likes to help newbies understand the joy of being online.