Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Content delivery networks (CDN) provide users with an infrastructure of servers across various data center locations. These networks can effectively and efficiently deliver online resources such as downloadable content, media streaming, or web-based applications, while also ensuring accessibility through high server uptime and overall speed improvements. Businesses commonly utilize CDNs to manage their content distribution and scaling for projects such as lead generation campaigns. Another important use is to enhance network security and website performance globally by sending online traffic through localized servers, which also helps to mitigate threats like DDoS attacks.  Read the full software guide...

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What is Content Delivery Network (CDN) Software?

Content delivery network (CDN) software is a content distribution tool that utilizes a globally distributed system consisting of proxy servers and their data centers to bring web content to end users.

Content delivery network software providers give their clients complete access to a vast network of servers and a wide variety of services all designed to ensure performance reliability of websites. By facilitating the efficient distribution of digital content to client websites, such content delivery services are becoming a popular solution for a lot of businesses looking to improve the overall performance of their websites.

A typical CDN service relies mainly on geographically positioned points of presence, otherwise referred to as PoPs, that facilitate the route to which the distribution network of digital content most often adheres to, from the server of origin all the way to the proxy server closest to the end user, i.e. the individual who did the browsing and requested the content.

Businesses and organizations rely on content delivery network (CDN) services—like request routing, web caching and server-load balancing—to minimize load times, ensure high performance for their business website and to enhance the overall user experience. CDN software and services are often leveraged by companies that depend heavily on serving content to their customers with a reliable distribution or delivery method.

A couple of examples of these types of companies include providers of streaming media and e-commerce firms. Poor web performance and content distribution can negatively impact these types of businesses in the most significant manner. Content delivery network (CDN) software is often implemented in tandem with other solutions, such as content management systems and website-hosting services. The latter can help improve performance reliability by optimizing content distribution speeds, although some CDN service may also offer web hosting as a separate module.

Additionally, there are content management solutions in the market that offer integration support for content delivery network software to help customer businesses obtain high performance for their websites, including whatever web application they’re using.

Types of Content Delivery Network (CDN) Software

CDN service providers deliver multimedia content to end users with consistency, high availability rate and high performance through a globally distributed network of proxy servers located in a number of data centers around the world.

Content delivery network (CDN) solutions distribute several web objects, such as graphics, scripts and texts. The content distribution service also supports delivery of downloadable objects like software, documents, media files and applications, including live and on-demand streaming media, e-commerce, web portals and social networks.

Content delivery network (CDN) software can be categorized based on their core functions and capabilities. In this categorization, there are two basic types you can consider if you’re in the market for content delivery services: traditional or commercial CDN service and enterprise content delivery network or eCDN software.

Traditional/commercial CDN software

A traditional CDN service is essentially what has already been previously described in this guide. A content delivery or distribution network is a comprehensive infrastructure consisting of a globally distributed system of servers across multiple data centers. CDN software can serve as a protective shield for the origin server, the server where the content originated. It can protect the origin server from potential threats like DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and/or overloads.

Content delivery network software works by caching static or semi-static content as close as possible to the end user. The CDN service is also capable of keeping established SSL or TCP sessions open between the origin server and the end user. A few examples of commercial content delivery services include, KeyCDN, Microsoft Azure CDN, Gumlet, Imperva Cloud Application Security, CacheFly and Google Cloud CDN.

Enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) software

Enterprise CDN software provides access to a robust network of proxy servers with the ability to enhance performance reliability for various types of websites, content delivery services and web application availability on an enterprise scale. Just like a traditional CDN service, eCDN providers make use of geographically dispersed points of presence or PoPs to help route the distribution of content from the origin server to a proxy server that is closest to the end user.

Compared to the majority of commercial CDN service providers on the market, eCDN software is capable of distributing much more than standard static web content. You see, there are three main types of content that is distributed through the web: static content, dynamic content and streaming content. Static content refers to the kind of content that doesn’t change that often and therefore does not require generation. Such content includes images, JavaScript, CSS, etc.

Dynamic web content refers to the kind of content that is often generated on-the-fly by web servers utilizing any of the different web programming languages available, such as Java, Ruby, and PHP. Finally, streaming content is typically comprised of audio and video files that are played either live or on-demand through a web browser control. Enterprise CDN providers are capable of serving content of any type without diminishing performance reliability and user experience.

Enterprise content distribution networks usually rely on a software-defined approach that enables efficient delivery of much larger files, such as high-definition, high-bandwidth media, i.e. HD streaming videos as well as software and web application delivery. While a commercial CDN service does provide some level of scalability, eCDN services are highly scalable and efficient at facilitating the high-bandwidth requirements of larger organizations and enterprises.

How to Choose Content Delivery Network (CDN) Software

Finding the right content delivery network (CDN) provider that meets your content distribution requirements is crucial. When evaluating the different CDN service providers, you have to carefully assess your organization’s bandwidth needs, budget, streaming media capabilities, the technical support offered by the service provider and your audience, specifically the location where most of your website visitors are based. The following are a few key factors to consider when choosing CDN software:

Conduct proper testing of CDN prospects

A thorough and successful testing of a potential CDN service provider is typically conducted in a couple of stages: the trial period and the data collection and analysis. The trial period is where you and your team will test the distribution network and its full capabilities, specifically their performance in the regions that are vital to your operation. You should find a way to gather information about performance reliability that is independent of the provider you are trying out. This way, you can compare your findings with theirs when the time comes.

The data collection and analysis phase is where you and your team will compare performance data and other critical information about the CDN service provider. Make sure to include a few key points in your comparisons, such as the availability of customer support, as well as basic and individual functionalities.

Carefully assess the performance of your CDN prospects

Having a better understanding of how content delivery services perform is among the most significant information you can have when in the process of evaluating CDN prospects. One of the key information you should try to obtain is the speed at which your prospective CDN service providers are able to deliver when it comes to different types of content, i.e. static web content, dynamic content and streaming media content.

Additionally, you should also make sure to calculate the nominal, maximal and average latency and throughput values both in light and heavy website traffic.

Consider the functionality of your CDN prospects

For any content delivery network (CDN) software to be fully functional, it has to be designed and developed based on a few key principles: availability of service, performance reliability, efficiency, security, flexibility and demand/popularity responsiveness.

The CDN service provider you pick should also offer both individual and basic functionalities. Individual functionalities can address the unique requirements of different customer businesses. But there has to be the basic functions that serve each and every customer. Such basic functions should include real-time CDN usage statistics, FTP file transfer capability and on-demand reset of delivery node cache, a.k.a. purge cache function.

Benefits of Content Delivery Network (CDN) Software

There are several benefits to using the right CDN service provider. However, the significance of those benefits may vary depending on the size of the operation and the content distribution requirements of the organization. The following are some of the key benefits for the majority of users, regardless of their size or needs:

CDN services can improve website load times

By distributing content to various points of presence that are closer to the location of website visitors, faster page loading times can be improved and user experiences improves along with them. With improved user experience comes better user satisfaction and retention. Web pages that have slow loading times can severely diminish user experience and the time visitors spend on your website, as they will be forced click away from your pages and go to your competitors instead.

CDN services can help reduce bandwidth costs

One of the primary expenses for websites and web hosting is bandwidth consumption. The more bandwidth your website consumes, the more it will cost your business. By data caching and through other optimization initiatives, content delivery network software will be able to minimize the amount of data an origin server has to provide. This in turn will help reduce the web hosting costs for website owners.

Common Features of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

2-Factor Authentication Adds an additional layer of security by requiring an extra step in the login process. Usually external devices are required for this or a text message with a verification code is sent to the user when trying to login.
Analytics Analyze and gain insights from data including web traffic, campaign conversions, sensoric output and more.
Custom Domains Personalized URLs to enhance branding.
Dashboard Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.
Database Databases are commonly tables of entries allowing you to store data and query information at will.
Data Export Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.
Data Import Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.
DDoS Protection Protection against direct denial of service (DDOS) attacks, ensuring website uptime.
File Sharing Share files with colleagues, customers or other stakeholders for easier access across platforms, collaboration and/or version control.
File Transfer Transfer large files to colleagues, customers or other stakeholders. This is often used for files too large to transfer via email and other conventional transmission methods.
Firewall Protect systems against viruses, breach attempts and other malicious behaviour exhibited by hackers or employees through the use of firewalls.
Geo-filtering Manages user access to online content based on their location.
Malware Protection Protect your computer from malware, viruses and worms.
Media Streaming Constant, real-time delivery of content via the internet to receiving users.
Notifications Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.
Real-time Alerts Provides important, relevant updates to the user.
Scheduling Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.
Third-Party Plugins/Add-Ons Offers additional features or integrations built by third-party developers in form of plugins or add-ons.

Latest User Reviews of Content Delivery Network (CDN) Products

G-Core Labs
Andy Kelley
26 Feb 2021
"An excellent CDN for us"

G-core labs are an excellent CDN for us. Setup was quick and easy. The network has good coverage all over the world, this is importa...

G-Core Labs
Mark Allen
27 Feb 2021
"We expect further cooperation and expansio..."

I develop telemedicine projects and I chose G Core as my CDN provider and streaming service late last year. I love the high network ...

G-Core Labs
Karl Koch
02 Mar 2021
"Thanks for cloud"

I did but I was not able to spend much time on the board quite yet. But the time I spent on it was without issues so it’s looking go...

G-Core Labs
Uwe Bauer
03 Mar 2021
" Very user-friendly streaming service"

G-core really helped us pull a conference off. It is very user-friendly streaming service, I swear! Thanks to g-core we hosted ove...

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