In order to improve user experience companies need to use CDN (content delivery network). This is a wide solution for enterprises of different sizes, but it should be chosen smartly. This article will help you to select the right CDN that will perfectly fit your requirements and help you real your goals.
Does my website need a Content Delivery Network?
If visitors of your website are scattered across multiple regions or countries, using CDN will definitely make sense. You don’t necessarily need millions of users every day for CDN to pay off. Even with a low traffic level (about a thousand of unique visitors daily) you should consider implementing a network (for instance, on Pay-as-you-go basis).
The physical distance between visitors and your servers play dramatic role in user experience since the distance defines how fast every object on your pages loads. The closer users are to server, the less time it will take for the browser to open webpage objects. The time when the browser receives the first byte from server is called latency.
Latency is what kills speed, and Content Delivery Network truly helps to lower it. With CDN servers spread over strategic locations, the distance for the content to travel reduces.
Server speed & throughput
Latency is not the only factor that matters. Power of servers is also crucial, and it can be affected by the following things:
- servers cannot handle the amount of connections over multiple browsers which results into a queue;
- outdated and slow hard drives;
- undercapacity load balancer;
- small pipe to the Internet.
Up-to-date CDN servers with SSD hard drives can respond to requests quickly and delivery content normally.
CDN search criteria
The choice of CDN depends on what you are looking for. You need static file delivery or dynamic site acceleration? Streaming HD video? Around the clock support? First, you should think over your requirements. It is better to divide them into four groups: functionality, performance, costs and service.
Here you should ask yourself:
- What should the CDN be able to do? Some aspects are provided by default, for example, Origin-Pull and Gzip compression. Custom CNAME for secure web-pages is also a necessity.
- What should you be able to do with your CDN? Probably, you will need real-time statistics on CDN use, file uploading via FTP, performance of Purge-all with an API, or overriding of browser caching headers.
Speed is what you need first and foremost. To figure out how fast the CDN servers will deliver files to your end users, look at such metrics as latency and throughput. Get min, max, median and average for every metrics and check them during normal and peak traffic hours. Here are some tips for performing a trial:
- perform a trial with one or several CDNs in target geographical regions;
- organize proper monitoring during the test to get real data about CDN performance;
- compare the results of different CDNs properly.
Gather pricing information about every CDN to feel the difference between the offers. As a rule, companies either provide pricing information on their websites or tell it during personal conversation. Note that custom price plans are widespread on the CDN market, so initial price can be different from what you get in the end.
Service and support
Most CDN providers provide 24/7 customer support via phone, email or live chat. Together with availability there are many other factors that matter including:
- Friendliness and knowledge level of support agents.
- How quickly are the problems solved?
- Quality and availability of account management.
- Personal approach or treatment of clients “just like another customer”.
- Approach to selection of CDN.
When you write all of your requirements down, give every aspect a weight (MoSCoW method can help). When you gather information, it’s better to put this in your spreadsheet: it will tell you which 3 CDN variants may be a good match. Get in touch with support service of these CDNs and prepare the questions you want to ask. If possible, do a free trial period with one-two CDNs and make sure you get a proper insight with them.
SpaceCDN helps potential customers choose the right CDN solutions and does it the best way. We work with advanced CDN providers and provide ways to compare their offers for you to make the best decision. If you want us to guide you through CDN selection process, just contact us, and we will happily provide you with more info.