What does CDN mean?

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CDN Meaning

Consumers are now used to being able to access all available online content from anywhere. This poses major problems, especially for websites whose core content is the transfer of large amounts of data. The best examples of this are Amazon and Netflix. In recent years, CDN networks have therefore become increasingly popular. We explain what it is and why CDN is the future of online traffic.

What is CDN?

CDN stands for content delivery network. The term refers to a regionally arranged group of servers that are connected via the Internet. The servers are used for delivering content to the user. The basic goal of a CDN is to shorten the loading times of websites by having the servers in regional proximity to the user.

For example, CDN can be used to implement worldwide website services such as Netflix and Amazon without the user having to reckon with long waiting times. This is actually logical when you consider that, thanks to a CDN, the information is obtained from a geographically close server and does not have to be sent around the world via fiber optic cables.

In the meantime, the majority of all websites are operated with CDN networks. The larger the volume of data to be transmitted, the more sense it makes to use it. Operators of streaming platforms in particular, but also download and global shopping platforms, are therefore turning to CDN technology.

How does CDN work?

As already mentioned, reducing the physical distance between user and server is the main motivation for using a CDN. This is because the further away the origin server is from the user and the larger the amount of data retrieved, the longer the loading and latency time of the respective website becomes.

Imagine you want to access a piece of information on the Amazon website. If you are to get this information from the origin server, then first your request has to be sent to the USA using fiber optic cables and then the server's response has to be sent back to you. A lot of time is lost in this process, which in turn leads to increased loading time.

And even if you are regionally close to the origin server, too many requests from too many users can quickly cripple the server. A CDN solves both problems at once. Firstly, the distribution of requests across a network of servers ensures that the required computing power can be scaled much better, even if there are short-term peaks in requests. At the same time, CDN networks are located at strategic points all over the world.

Through catche, the networks store an intermediate version of the original information from the origin server at the so-called points of presence. So, for example, if you make a request on Amazon, the information can be provided by a regional CDN network and doesn't have to be queried in the US. The result is reduced loading and latency times.

For each user request by an Internet-enabled device for content such as HTML, images, CSS and JavaScript files, the end user is assigned to the optimal CDN server and then receives the required information from it in the form of the cached version of the respective website.

Why is CDN so important

There are various reasons why a large proportion of websites on the Internet now run via CDN websites. One is the increasingly global orientation of websites. Not only Internet giants like Amazon and Netflix, but also SMEs now want to make content available to customers all over the world. However, fast, worldwide use of a website is only possible if regional servers provide the necessary information through CDN.

In addition, the volumes of data to be transmitted are also growing. Not only video streaming services, but also corporate websites, for example from industry or the software sector, want to convince with videos in 4K quality. Medical and download portals have to make huge amounts of data available to a large number of users quickly.

If a large number of users then request large amounts of data from an origin server at the same time, this can quickly reduce computing power drastically. A CDN network avoids this by distributing the requests among different servers. This also makes it much easier to scale the required computing power.

In the end, however, all these aspects boil down to one fact: users or consumers have an ever shorter attention span on the Internet. If a website responds or loads too slowly, then the user quickly loses interest and leaves the website. This is why CDN are so important for a successful website.

Security and cost reduction

CDN servers are also used due to security concerns. This is because being distributed across different servers makes it more difficult for a hacker to launch DDoS attacks. Moreover, CDN sites are mostly operated by top international providers like Amazon AWS. The advanced security certificates of these operators provide generally improved security for all users.

At the same time, CDN servers can lower one of the biggest cost points of host servers ever: broadband transmission. Mainly due to caching, but also due to other features and the geographical proximity between the user and the server, the rates and thus the costs of the necessary broadband transmission are drastically reduced. In summary, a website that uses CDN is faster, more secure and even cheaper.

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