On World Web Day, Let’s Remember How CDNs Changed the Internet Forever


Some of us may remember the “dark days” before YouTube and mobile games, while others can’t imagine a world without them. The establishment of the World Wide Web (WWW) Protocol in 1990 by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was basically Year 1 in terms of what we consider the Internet. To say that this step was revolutionary would be an understatement.

While the WWW protocol of the 1990s established the base layer of the Internet, there is an often overlooked component of the Internet’s infrastructure that makes interaction with these applications possible. These are known as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and they are responsible for making the Internet experience much richer, more diverse and dynamic.

In honour of world web dayit’s important to understand the incredible value that CDNs bring to our lives, both personal and professional.

What do CDNs do?

The role that CDNs play can be explained in their name: they are networks that deliver content to end users. But that, of course, doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. The first generation of CDNs were launched over two decades ago and were designed to improve and enhance the performance of the Internet as it became a more widely used medium. Since their beginnings in the late 1990s, CDNs have grown to facilitate much of the Internet’s content, including text, graphics, scripts, and downloadable files and applications.

Technically speaking, a CDN is a network of servers scattered around the world distributing content from the origin server by caching or storing the content as close as possible to the end user accessing the Internet. The closer the content is cached to the end user, the shorter the travel distance, which reduces latency and lowers the workload on the origin server. In short, CDNs help websites and applications perform better by delivering data faster through a network of location-based servers called edge servers. The more servers, the better!

Today, as global internet usage continues to grow thanks to subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, as well as the scaling of online games, media social and e-commerce, an effective CDN architecture is becoming more and more essential in our daily lives. Lives. Soon, we will likely see an increase in demand for more immersive and interactive virtual reality (VR) experiences, which will contribute to the growing demand and need for high-speed, low-latency connections. The increased demand for low latency connections will further underline the importance of the CDN framework.

Importance of a Proper CDN Framework

Many benefits vary depending on the type of Internet content, but key benefits include improved website load times, reduced bandwidth costs, increased content availability and redundancy, and improved website security. We take this for granted today, but behind the scenes, CDNs support the entire infrastructure of our Internet.

Today, virtually every business depends on high-quality Internet experiences for most of their business operations and activities. CDNs ensure this and without the proper framework businesses are vulnerable to lost revenue. Website delays of just 100 milliseconds can hurt conversion rates by 7%. For an e-commerce platform, this contributes to cart abandonment, resulting in an estimated loss of $18 billion in revenue each year.

A 250 milliseconds faster loading time proved to prevent users from visiting a competitor’s online store, demonstrating the need and priority that online shoppers place on agile web connections.

Find the best CDN

For companies looking to boost their online presence, there are many considerations to make when creating the right CDN framework. When considering CDN optimization, organizations should be aware of two distinct costs: CDN and cloud. CDN costs are charged based on outbound traffic, while cloud costs include storage, compute usage, and data transfer. CDNs, however, help organizations reduce their data transfer costs by caching data closer to the user rather than with the origin server.

Security is another key consideration for any business seeking a CDN, as global CDN traffic reaches 252 exabytes per month in 2022— up from just 54 exabytes in 2017. That leaves plenty of crucial data for bad actors to try to intercept, steal, or alter. While there are some inherent insecurities of CDN-accelerated applications, with the right steps, finding a robust CDN that will patch or protect against these application vulnerabilities can secure websites and their content is possible. All organizations that want to find the best CDN provider in terms of security and quality should first carefully evaluate all potential CDNs, enable a web application firewall to protect against strangers, and enable certificate compatibility SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Additionally, depending on an organization’s specific needs, features such as encryption, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack mitigation, and compliance may also be a high priority.

Finding the right CDN, in the end, comes down to which use case fits the needs of a given organization. An OTT platform, or online streaming service, will have a completely different set of needs than an e-commerce website; different types of content work better with different CDNs. Besides security and content, other important considerations when finding the perfect match are budget, end-user location, speed and reliability, cost and pricing models, and support services. .

The average Internet user is completely unaware of CDNs and their importance within the overall Internet ecosystem. Similarly, many businesses and organizations of all types are unaware of the role and importance that CDNs play and therefore do not invest enough due diligence in researching the best CDN options.

CDNs are the unsung heroes of the internet, so in honor of World Web Day, it’s worth shedding light on how they impact our daily lives and how organizations can make the most informed decisions.

Written by Dr. Eduardo Rocha, Senior Solutions Architect at GlobalDots


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