What is a Content Delivery Network?

A content delivery network is a system of multiple Reliable Data Centers and Proxy Servers that distributes the load of content creation and distribution among multiple consumers. The aim is to offer high-quality service by geographically distilling the service into different sites, each with its own capacity and speed of operation. The most important characteristic of a Content Delivery Network is that it provides a uniform experience between clients. Content delivery is not affected by existing site-specific costs such as bandwidth and power. This makes CDPN an ideal choice for businesses looking to take advantage of the benefits offered by IP networking.

A Content Delivery Network can alleviate some of the issues associated with content delivery latency and overload. With a CDN system, web publishers do not need to worry about the connection quality and bandwidth consumption of other users when sharing large files with others. Web publishers can also be assured of a constant stream of data transmitted from server to server. The consistent and reliable delivery of content through a Content Delivery Network improves reliability of the service that enables web publishers to maximize the potential of their websites.

A Content Delivery Network is usually established between the origin server and the edge routers. The data transmitted between the edge and source servers remains consistent, even when the load times between the edge and origin servers are different. Publishers only need to connect to the edge network to publish a site. They do not have to concern themselves with the latencies involved when transferring data to the origin server.

A content delivery network offers several advantages over other technologies such as file transfer protocol (FTP), which offers limited access to servers in the local area network (LAN). With a CDN system, every site on the network has direct access to servers located at the hub. This means that every request for content from every origin server is processed immediately, reducing transmission time and thereby increasing the efficiency of the system. With global reach comes global impact.

Traffic between edge servers can be analyzed on the basis of destination IP, network speed and bandwidth used. On the one hand, edge servers can be classified into two types – one that interconnects with multiple edge routers and another that interconnect with single edge routers. One advantage of content delivery networks is that data transmitted via it can be analyzed for quality parameters. For instance, requests to web application servers or web pages are identified by request parameters like the number of bytes sent and received, downloaded or uploaded and time taken for downloading data. Such information can help an administrator makes decisions regarding the allocation of resources.

The Cloudflare technology uses the concept of smart caches. They work on the basis of metadata or rules about the content delivered. For example, a certain web page can be requested repeatedly and its content may change, hence resulting in increased load times. The same rules may apply to video and images that have been loaded on to the system. As such, a new page or video is requested and its metadata is used to identify it in the cache.

The advantage of content delivery networks is that they reduce traffic losses caused due to congestion in the underlying network. In other words, if there is a problem originating from a client computers connected to edge servers, the origin server closest to it picks up the request and forwards it on to the right servers, reducing thelatencies. On the other hand, a load balancer inspects the request details and chooses the best server closest to it on the basis of IP address, network speed and other criteria.

The Cloudflare technology makes use of two different types of data transfers, namely IaaS and SaaS. The former delivers application applications on the cloud, while the latter performs data transfer functions like CRM, supply chain management, accounting and other business analytics. The system starts by sending requests for web content to the origin server closest to the user. The same request is then sent to the cloud servers. From the cloud servers, the data transferred are then stored on the users’ own servers in a secure datacentre.

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