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Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and Web Development

Posted on September 12, 2013 by

Cloud Computing – everyone hears a lot about this these days, quite often with regard to office applications and file storage. I don’t think that many people have given too much thought to how this might fit with their websites just yet. Traditionally, websites are hosted on one or more local servers and for most applications this works well. To ensure a website experience is fast and optimal for the end user however there are other considerations for large e-commerce sites, websites with lots of bandwidth intensive content or sites with a global audience. This is where the concept of Cloud Computing and CDN’s comes into play.

Basically, CDN’s speed up the delivery of content, from your website, to an end user as fast as possible using a globally diverse network of content servers. So, rather than content be delivered from a single server in a fixed location, content is delivered from a server or network of servers, much closer to the person viewing your website – a properly configured website can also ‘parallelize’ this stream of data so that it arrives much faster than if served from a single location or server.

For instance, images can be pulled from one server whilst website code is pulled from others, all at the same time, much closer to the end user. If you have someone browsing your site in Hong Kong, a server or servers local to this location will be used to deliver content, this can happen at the same time as someone browsing in New York is having content delivered to them from servers on the East Coast of America, all at the same time, all in parallel. This basically means that wherever your users or customers are browsing your site from, they will get the best and fastest browsing experience possible.

The reason this is important is that speed is a key attribute to the success or popularity of your website, for search engine rankings and for the user experience, it makes your site more sticky than someone else’s.

In terms of cost, this type of solution isn’t as expensive as it sounds as most are based on traffic volumes and not hardware. Therefore you pay a reasonable cost for bandwidth rather than have to buy a global network of servers. Essentially you are leveraging an existing ‘cloud’, Amazon for instance, are a key player in this space.

In summary, this may be a slightly niche solution at the moment and is probably only cost effective for certain website and applications, it is however an exciting way forward in terms of staying ahead of the game for key global players.

If you are interested in talking to us about this or any other type of solution, we are always happy to chat.

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