The Global Content Delivery Network (CDN) market is expected to grow by $42.4 billion between now and 2032. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile applications and the emergence of AI driving such incredible growth, the golden age of global CDNs is only just starting.
Rapid expansion is stretching existing performance and security solutions to their limits. At the same time, customers are demanding always-on architecture, while attackers are continuing to abuse bots and APIs for illicit gain.
Modern CDNs are now a standard component of any serious scaling strategy, and here we take a closer look at the top 10 most transformative benefits CDNs offer organizations.
1. Supercharged Reliability and Response Times
High-performance websites are no longer a nice-to-have. Conversion rates are now determined in seconds, and CDNs unlock global potential by keeping latency low for every visitor.
Across all devices, loading time rules as king of conversion. Hubspot found that, while a website that takes 2.4 seconds to load may enjoy a conversion rate of 1.9%, the same page loading in 3.3 seconds sees that rate drop to 1.5%. At 4.2 seconds, this drops off even further, to below 1%. And at 5.7 seconds, conversion rates are reduced to less than 0.6%.
Nowhere is this rule more important than on mobile devices: recent in-depth research has found that, irrespective of industry, mobile devices now account for the majority of online searches. They play a particularly crucial role in the initial stages of the purchase journey, where customers are looking to know more about you. Thanks to this critical introductory role, over 30% of the US’ $47.8B spending on eCommerce was conducted via mobile in 2020. Despite the demand, mobile latency continues to lag behind, costing untold millions in untapped potential.
Those few seconds can make the difference between a happy buyer or a disgruntled bounce; CDNs ensure rapid loading speed for all customers, across all devices, regardless of where they are in the world.
2. Global Reach
Throughout history, the number of internet users has only ever increased: 2022 saw a total of almost 5 billion users, representing two thirds of the global population. The sheer breadth of users strains traditional server architecture at the seams, with latency plaguing and outright disrupting long-distance transactions.
A CDN facilitates global reach by providing local Points of Presence (PoPs) to an ever-expanding user base. By caching the content near to the end-user, visitors experience faster page loading times, as the request no longer has to travel thousands of miles to your origin server.
3. Financial Savings
CDNs represent the ultimate form of cost-to-performance scalability, both in cutting the need to invest in old-school architecture, and scaling the network to your organization’s own hour-by-hour demands.
Traditionally, when faced with the exciting prospect of scaling internationally, organizations were forced to choose between high latency, or shelling out for swathes of in-house architecture. Now, however, global CDNs eliminate the eye-watering expenses of foreign hosting. The hosting and management of local PoPs are now collated within a single platform, drastically streamlining infrastructure and employee expenses.
Furthermore, CDNs help reduce the expenses of other key network solutions. For instance, web hosting services often charge by the quantity of data transferred to or from the origin server (this is called bandwidth). However, when most of a website’s contents are stashed on a CDN’s local cache, far less data needs to be transferred in and out of the website’s host server, resulting in lower bandwidth costs.
4. 99% Availability
In today’s always-online world, suddenly going dark results in a complete loss of online revenue. Origin servers are susceptible to a number of outages which may be completely out of your control, such as traffic spikes and hardware failures.
Netflix’s state-of-the-art content distribution architecture has allowed it to dominate the streaming industry. Whilst HBO Max, Disney Plus and other competitors have all suffered through periods of intense demand, Netflix’s multi-billion-dollar Open Connect network has remained stable. Essentially an in-house CDN, this sees Netflix stash streamable content across its 17,000 servers in 158 countries. Even when faced with the surge of demand during the pandemic, Open Connect proved its futureproof metal by seamlessly providing buffer-free streaming to millions more consumers.
Whether in-house or third party, CDNs guarantee availability thanks to their focus on edge architecture. Due to their ability to manage similar assets across a number of regions, CDN providers support always-available mechanisms such as automated server sensing. Should a server suddenly go down, the CDN can automatically shift the backend architecture, redirecting users to still-functioning servers with no impact on the end-user’s experience.This mechanic is how Netflix dodges bad ISP performance to give customers a buffer-free experience.
Thanks to the hardiness provided by the CDN’s entire network, organizations can benefit from almost-100-percent availability, even while competitors are battling network outages and hardware issues.
5. Decreased Server Load
80% of a typical website is composed of static assets. These can all be offloaded onto a CDN, with one of the major benefits of using CDN being a drastic reduction of the origin server’s load. The local copies of your website spreads the load across the range of local PoPs. This way, the round trip time is drastically reduced, preventing site visitors from afar slowing things down for your local users.
While static content acceleration can offer major benefits to server load minimization, modern CDNs can go even further. Dynamic web applications often boast greater conversion rates thanks to their personalized end-user experience. However, dynamic content can’t be cached in edge locations, because the server itself generates the content in response to user behavior. Speeding up the delivery of such content is more complex than traditional edge caching. Next-gen CDNs entail end-to-end solutions that finely tune each aspect of the dynamic data path, from inception to delivery.
6. Strengthened Backbone
The strategic positioning of a CDN as a reverse proxy lends a number of significant benefits to your own network. One of these CDN advantages is the future-proofing of your backbone network’s capacity. This higher capacity means that a far greater number of users can now access your network at any given time, whereas beforehand the single origin server may have bottlenecked new visitors. The far greater number of servers that the CDN allows access to now facilitates larger numbers of loyal customers and engaged users to keep returning.
7. DDoS and Bad Bot Defenses
The goal of cybersecurity is to clearly and succinctly identify and prevent threats before an impending payload is unleashed. The CDN deployment structure, wherein the CDN solution is situated at the edge of the organization’s network, provides a perfect opportunity to act as a high-security fence.
Its base function makes for a perfect natural anti-DDoS tool. Other than causing severe financial losses and completely disrupting your online presence, DDoS attacks greatly impact reputation and brand image. When customers choose to type their credit card into an eCommerce site, they are placing great trust in your company, and any sign of active cyberattack has the potential to cause major damage.
DDoS floods operate by using bot traffic to overwhelm your data center. With a CDN in place, if one of your servers is hit with more traffic than it can possibly handle, the excess traffic is simply sent to other servers. Your site is spared the downtime, meaning users don’t notice a thing.
DDoS attacks may be high-profile and deeply destructive, but attackers have evolved since the first days of CDNs. Now, attackers wield an arsenal of other attack vectors, one of which is bots. Malicious bots conduct inventory denial and scraping attacks, drastically embittering the customer experience while the company remains oblivious. CDN bot mitigation has evolved past the Web Application Firewall, with always-expanding directories allowing for the automated identification and removal of highly sophisticated bad bots. This data from billions of bot requests around the world also lends big-picture trends and industry insights into your own threat analytics.
8. Cloud-Native Protection
Modern CDNs are built with cloud-native security in mind. As web apps and sites scale in breadth and complexity, API and injection attacks are poised to take advantage of the wide-open attack surface. CDN providers are uniquely poised to protect even the peripherals of cloud-native applications. While monitoring the data and metadata of every web and API request, advanced decision-making logic identifies and shuts down attacks. This process becomes tailored to your own traffic over time, meaning that the accuracy rate of CDN app and API protection become increasingly refined. This protection is further equipped with self-tuning capabilities, which help reduce operational friction. Every single security trigger – whether true attack or false positive – are fed into an advanced machine learning algorithm. The analysis provided paves the way for policy-specific tuning recommendations which can be rapidly implemented into your wider security stance with just a few clicks.
9. Cutting-Edge Analytics
Data collection and analysis is critical while companies undergo and maintain global scaling. CDN benefits include the integration with a number of third-party metric tools – and even offer inbuilt data management tools.
The deep insights across CDN processes allows your team to detect issues in seconds, instead of hours. Our powerful self-server alert mechanism allows your team to keep a finger on the pulse of service quality throughout all environments. While keeping track of any unexpected behaviors, the logging function allows you to track events throughout all environments, supercharging your incident response process. The frequency and extent of any incident is made crystal-clear, with trigger alerts allowing potential problems to cut through the fray.
Not only does this data grant deep insight into potential security concerns such as botnet attacks, but it further pushes your online presence toward true optimization. Our in-stream technology monitors and analyzes data in-transit, without any reliance on external storage. This allows for the discovery and outright eradication of bottlenecks, while also allowing this data to inform every component of your broader operations.
Thanks to this, it’s not just your teams who are empowered with a more targeted, efficient response – it’s your entire organization.
Alongside streamlined technical support, CDN data can be sent from multiple endpoints to a single destination, allowing the collation of data that spans the globe. This can be sent every 30 or 60 seconds, guaranteeing that only cutting-edge data becomes a part of your analytical edge. If not all logs are required, this process can be configured to retrieve only the data most relevant to you. Thanks to this process, you can discover trends that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of even mature organizations.
10. Hyper-Reliability With Multi-CDN
The ability of CDNs to revolutionize global architecture and guarantee always-on presence has resulted in CDNs driving the vast majority of online traffic. No matter what site you visit, or what type of content you consume, chances are that CDNs are behind every page that’s delivered to your browser.
The incredibly vital role that CDNs play in global eCommerce has led to their ubiquity across industries. The flexibility, availability and performance offered by CDNs is so vital that, for operations at scale, multiple CDNs are often simultaneously deployed. The 99% uptime boasted by individual CDN networks may be almost-perfect, but the few hours of inevitable downtime per year can represent the last major step toward service provision perfection. Multi-CDN strategies provide significant gains in performance, with smart routing ferrying content between the different providers.
How GlobalDots Can Help
Most CDN features are underutilized or outright overlooked. Site and app performance can only reach their full potential via careful modifications that focus on your most important metrics. At-scale CDN management is even more complex.
Whether it’s finding the right CDN solution or developing the best setup, GlobalDots’ strong partnerships with major CDN providers, alongside two decades’ worth of experience within cloud optimization, make us invaluable. With ongoing attention from our experts, your CDN can fulfill its potential, and keep your architecture flexible and responsive even throughout rapid growth. It’s why GlobalDots is trusted by market leaders such as Lufthansa, Playtika, Fiat, Payoneer, and Monday.com to keep abreast of cutting-edge cloud innovation.