How to make the most out of your CDN from the start
A 2022 business needs a 2022 IT infrastructure
Cloud infrastructure and Web Performance optimization have become the only means for software as a service (SAAS) companies to build scalable products, especially those targeting a large users base. At the crux of taking decisions on your IT infrastructure, certain technologies such as CDN, WAF, DNS, etc. might be overlooked due to the bunning desire to build your product’s MVP. This decision might be the root cause of downtimes, slow load times, cloud overspend, and even low SEO ranking for your web/mobile-based projects in the future if not addressed timely.
The overall adverse effect of launching a product without the perfect performance infrastructure in place poses negative threats to the project’s growth options. To avoid this, special attention must be placed on planning your CDN architecture, and especially – how your CDN interacts with the other elements of your web performance stack.
A future-proof and cost-effective planning of CDN requires engineering expertise.Just as importantly, it requires a strong, multi-vendor channel partner who is in the position to craft a fair-priced multi-CDN strategy that will pay out more and more as the business scales.
In this article, we’ll demonstrate the effectiveness of a robust CDN infrastructure as well as make recommendations on how to get a multi-vendor channel partner to craft a perfect multi-CDN architecture for your existing and new projects.
What is CDN?
Content Delivery Network (CDN) is the geographical distribution network of proxy servers, data and data centers designed to make web content more accessible to end-users. CDN works through a caching system that systematically stores web content such as images, videos, and web pages within proxy servers closer to users to make it easy to load them through web-enabled devices.
CDN’s were designed to address the challenge of slow load time when accessing web content due to Network Congestion. In the early days of the worldwide web (WWW), it was almost impossible to get website loading with an hour given the huge network traffic Jam that occurred at the time. With the creation of distributed networks of proxy servers today, accessing a website takes a couple of seconds.
CDN can also be used as a security firewall to protect web content and its users against security vulnerability attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS). Read how a UK-based Fashion retail company END. Clothing makes 45% growth after web performance optimization here.
Choosing a Multi CDN Strategy
A multi CDN strategy is the distribution of web content or loads amongst two or three CDNs to conditionally redirect users to different CDNs depending on your business logic. The CDN switching may be manually done or automated using a Domain Name System (DNS) or using a Commercial Decision Engine of your choice.
Other factors that may influence your choice of multi CDN setup may include, availability, traffic type, geographical location, or performance. Below are some CDN strategies to leverage and get the best off your CDN operations.
What Multi CDN strategies are there?
- Static: This is a basic strategy of a multi CDN setup where the DNS records are modified to point to different CDNs depending on the content requested by the end-user.
- Round Robin: In the Round Robin load balancing strategy, users requests are shared amongst the available CDNs. E.g: if you set up the Round Robin strategy with three CDNs the first user request will be sent to CDN1, the second to CDN2, and the third to CDN3, and so on. The Round Robin load balancing rotates requests amongst available CDNs.
- Weighted Round Robin: In this strategy, you set a ratio of load distribution between your available CDNs. Say you give CDN1 a ratio of 45% of the available request the remaining request will be handled by CDN1 if you had two CDNs available. You can also set conditions for Weighted Ratio strategy such as geolocation, ISP, etc.
You can learn more about the multi CDN strategy that suits your business needs in a fully dedicated article here.
For deeper insight on how to implement the best multi CDN strategy for your business, fetch the eBook:
CDN or Load balancer?
CDNs and Load balancers have similarities, e.g. they are both used to optimize application uptime. However, CDN and Load balancer are two different tools: CDNs are designed to make the distribution of data more accessible to the end-user, while a load balancer distributes traffic between a network of servers that are in close geographical proximity.
Should I have both a CDN and a load balancer?
The short answer is yes, because speaking of optimization, you’ll need a load balancer to handle the distribution of your application’s traffic within web servers and CDN for optimizing your application in congested geographical regions.
When to use load balancers
You don’t always have to use a load balancer in a multi CDN setup, you can make use of a load balancer without CDN. It is completely up to you to decide whether to use them independently or to combine both. One factor that’ll always influence your decision is your projects’ performance optimization requirements which are solely dependent on your project’s traffic or user base.
For more benefits of that powerful combo of CDN and load balancing, watch this on-demand webinar:
CDN and page speed/website performance
One of the most successful means of doubling revenue is through web/mobile performance optimization. Reports have it that first-time visitors are likely to take business decisions depending on their experience when surfing your web/mobile application which is solely dependent on your web application’s performance.
CDNs can boost web pages speed by caching the webpage’s content on several locations around the world. Using a CDN for your web application may result in a huge decrease in page load time and an overall increase in website performance. The location of the cache system of a CDN is often closer to the end-users than the actual host server, making it easy to access web files on the go.
However, making the decision of which multi CDN strategy best suits your web optimization requirements is based on two factors Cost and Availability. We’ve written a guide to help you choose the best CDN strategy for your business considering both factors here.
CDN and caching
A typical illustration of how cache works is making a copy of your images in a newly purchased Macbook for easy access without the need to always look through the old laptop each time you wanted to watch them.
CDN (Content Delivery Network), caches web content (e.g: images, videos, or web pages) in proxy server closer to the end-users than the origin servers. A proxy server is a server that receives requests from clients and passes them along to other servers. Proxy servers are often closer to the end-user, a CDN is often able to deliver a cached version of the requested web content within seconds.
Typically, when a user makes a first-time request to an origin server, the CDN stores a version of the web content in its cache system with the aim of serving it when next requested. This technique is one of the vital ways of optimizing web performance. For further reading, read about the top three CDN tricks to optimize cloud cost.
CDN and WAF
WAF (Web Application Firework) is one of the technologies that shouldn’t be left out when designing a multi CDN architecture. WAF is used to add a security layer to your web application to protect the web content against exploits and vulnerabilities. It forms a bridge when a malicious attack is launched on your web application by blocking the attacker’s request in the proxy server before its gets to the origin server where your main web content is stored.
To choose which CDN should be linked to WAF, you’ll have to set up a WAF policy and link them to your desired CDN(s). WAF policies are a set of laid-out rules designed to handle each request made to your server. A typical WAF policy rule consists of a condition to be met, and action to be taken if conditions are met or not. Some actions may include; Block, Redirect, Log, or Allow. It is left to you to select the matching conditions and their actions that best suits your application’s protection requirements.
CDN and DNS
DNS servers hold records of domain name servers and are responsible for the binding of domain names to IP addresses of web servers. If websites were to be accessed via IP addresses, it’ll be almost impossible to generate human-readable URLs for web assessment. The role of DNS in internet technology is huge as it plays a vital role in web accessibility.
Curious how CDN with managed DNS can keep you out of outages? Watch the webinar:
How CDN and DNS configuration works
The DNS and CDN configuration is a setup where the web application relies on a CDN provider for the delivery of content and management of its domain name. A typical illustration is, each time a request is made to the domain, the request will refer to the DNS server configuration for that domain, it’ll then be redirected to the “authoritative entity” for that domain. At this point, the CDN-DNS server will respond by biding the request to an IP address closest to the origin of the request.
This technique is also referred to as “IP anycast”; every request goes to the closest servers determined by network hops, not physical distance (miles). This is a high-level solution because in performance optimization network topology is has higher priority compared to physical distance.
CDN is a vital requirement in web optimization, especially in a large userbase setting. So in considering a CDN, performance optimization should be at the crux of your CDN architecture. You can learn more about the best CDN strategy for your business here.
Selecting the best CDN partner
Having understood the economic benefits of CDN and having a good web performance infrastructure in place, the thought of choosing a perfect CDN partner to craft a multi CDN architecture for your business becomes eminent. Some parameters to consider when selecting a multi CDN partner include Geographical coverage, CDN storage, services and support, and integrations.
GlobalDots – A world leader in deploying the best CDN technologies
GlobalDots is a world leader in implementing B2B cloud & web innovation. With 17 years of CDN & Web Performance experience, spanning over countless verticals & use cases, we break the boundaries of off-the-shelf products and vanilla configurations to create the optimal stack for your business. As a lifelong partner of world-leading CDN providers such as Akamai, Cloudflare, and Amazon Cloudfront, we are the world’s #1 enabler of Multi-CDN strategies and CDN migration.With its unique multidisciplinary engineering team, GlobalDots has already enabled streamlining and smart growth in over 500 global organizations, providing enterprise-grade Cloud Security; DevOps & Cloud services; web performance & CDN; Web Security; Corporate IT; Cloud-native networking and infrastructure. Our vendors range from innovative cutting-edge solutions to the world’s leading vendors. Read a case study of how we helped a UK-based fashion retailing company to increase its revenue by 45%:
We believe that the insights you’ve gathered from this article will help shape your decision when considering web performance architecture. We’re also ready to join you as a trusted partner to help actualize your vision of building a scalable product that services a large user base. For more in-depth reading on CDN, click here. Feel free to contact our experts at any time for your CDN needs.