If your project is tightly connected with delivery of numerous files, you can leverage a content delivery network (CDN) in your work. What are the benefits of CDN network, and when is it recommended to be used?
CDN is a system of numerous servers scattered across multiple regions to quickly serve files and website content from various locations. CDN service combines caching, advanced indexing technologies and content synchronization in multiple geographic areas (Points of Presence). It reduces physical latency and allows website visitors to access assets from cache quicker.
When CDN technology should be used?
In fact, if your target audience is located in different regions, countries or continents, you will benefit from content delivery network. Such network will boost content delivery and ensure excellent user experience. Keep in mind: you should use some particular CDN network only if it meets your particular requirements. Some CDN companies have limitations on their networks:
- They aren’t optimized to stream content or serve large files.
- They lack geo proximity across the world (serve files only in a few regions).
- They do not perform cache expiration of some certain files.
If you have streaming content, a lot of users from different countries, and need control over cache expiration, search for high-quality content delivery networks from reliable and well-established providers. This is a less costly solution than expansion of infrastructure and requires much less effort to be implemented.
There are two basic kinds of CDN networks:
- Origin Pull. A user sends a request to CDN, and if there is no fresh cache, the request is sent to the origin. Obtained content will be cached and delivered to the first visitor, and the next will be served content from the cache. Such network is easy to configure.
- Push CDN means that content must be explicitly uploaded to a website. Otherwise, it won’t be available. Such solution is more suitable for large files and multimedia content, but is more complicated in configuration.
Can I implement it?
In fact, some simple CDN solutions don’t require knowledge of coding: there’s no need for you to be tech savvy to leverage such network in your website. However, some services have certain requirements: you may need to alter website code and configuration. Most websites use CDN modules to change file URLs and direct browsers to CDN instead of the main server. This is not one-fits-all approach, but it works in most situations. Pretty often, you only need to download and enable the CDN module. If you need a CDN for testing purposes, use status Testing mode until you decide to use CDN service at all capacity to deliver files to your visitors. Since files are not shared between environments, you may have to separate your CDN for development, testing and actual file serving.