Blogs
Rachel Weiner
Documentation Project Manager

What Is A CDN and How dotCDN Helps You Scale

Jul 20, 2021
By: Rachel Weiner

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are the backbone of the internet.

A CDN offers faster loading times for websites and applications. Faster loading speeds results in SEO gains, satisfied customers, and a better user experience.

Regardless of what you do and the type of content you’re consuming, CDNs are behind every asset you interact with. Every image and every video you watch gets delivered to you through a CDN.

CDNs help companies deliver content faster, making possible the lightning-fast web of today. In this article, we will discuss what a CDN is, why you need one, and how a CDN works with a headless CMS to deliver digital experiences at scale.

What Is A CDN?

CDNs are made up of servers distributed globally that cache data from the origin server. Users can then access the data from a server near them to improve performance and reduce latency.

A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a system of servers that deliver content on behalf of other servers. In the event you have created an application for your business and want to make sure it loads quickly when accessed by customers, then using a CDN can help. There are many benefits to utilizing a CDN, including an improved user experience, increased site security and reduced costs.

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

By responding to end-user requests with a server that is closer than the origin in both physical and network proximity to the end-user provides many benefits. A CDN offloads traffic from content servers and improves the web experience, thus benefiting both the content provider and its end users.

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How Does It Work?

All the content on your website is hosted somewhere at a physical location. It is from that location that your data gets delivered to visitors across the world.

If your website is hosted, let’s say, in Germany, and a user from another part of Germany wants to access your content, he or she will see the website in milliseconds. But if your visitor isn’t near, things get complicated. For instance, if a South African user wants to access your content, it means that the browser has to fetch content from the server in Germany and then display it to that user thousands of miles away.

Also, if at that same time, users from other countries are requesting the same content, the server gets bogged down in the requests and takes longer to load and serve the content, which will impact the speed with which the content will load on the user’s page.

A content delivery network is a cure to this frustrating situation.

A CDN is a broad network of servers deployed around the world. Your website assets are cached and stored on all of these servers.

When a visitor from any country visits your website, the website fetches cached content from the nearest CDN server. It delivers it to the visitors’ location from a local server or one that’s closer to the visitor.

In keeping with the example above, with a CDN, a website located in Germany could, with the help of a CDN, cache content on a server in South Africa or another African nation to reduce the latency and deliver a lightning-speed digital experience to that South African user.

Why Do You Need A CDN?

Most people will tell you that speed is the main reason why you need a CDN. This is true, but it’s not the only reason why you need one. A CDN has the potential to transform your website and improve its performance. Let’s dig deeper into the benefits of a CDN:

Consistency

With a CDN, your content remains accessible to end-users even during peak times. For eCommerce stores, for example, a CDN service helps make sure that the website remains available for your customers even under heavy seasonal traffic. Plus, a CDN server improves availability and mitigates the risks and potential losses associated with spikes and server outages.

Security

According to Gartner, 88% of organizations worldwide have experienced spear-phishing attempts and DDoS attacks. A CDN service is based on the cloud, which represents another layer of security between website visitors and malicious hackers. A CDN can mitigate a DDoS attack by taking on the traffic and distributing it across different CDN nodes to prevent downtime.

Data Insights

CDNs carry traffic from all kinds of places and provide companies with vast data about the visitors. Connectivity statistics, device types, browsing times, a CDN can show businesses all this data and enable informed decision making.

Potential Savings

A CDN service can help businesses save money by giving customers a simplified hosting service and eliminating the need for investing in on-premise hosting. Plus, a CDN makes it possible to offload traffic to other servers or even to the visitor’s network to reduce the traffic and the charges associated with it.

Presenting dotCDN, dotCMS’ New CDN

A CDN-enabled headless CMS gives users a tool that enables faster content delivery through a reliable network made of cached servers across the world. Powered by Bunny CDN, dotCDN helps users scale their operations, all within dotCMS’ infrastructure, which reduces the need for maintenance since it scales automatically.

A CDN makes possible the blazing speeds headless CMS users have gotten accustomed to, while also enabling marketers to deliver context-based experiences and enact omnichannel marketing campaigns that go beyond mobile devices and desktops.

dotCDN has 54 edge locations, helping you bring your content closer to the users. dotCDN cloud infrastructure was designed to scale with you and respond to your website loads granularly thanks to its 30Tbit bandwidth and 10 Tier 1 network partners.

Here are some of the ways dotCDN can improve your website performance:

  • Superior Uncached Performance: dotCDN enables users to speed uncached requests across regions, which means that even content that’s not cached on the CDN is stored and easily accessible, which delivers users unparalleled performance across regions.
  • Edge Storage: Once a user requests a file, it gets transferred to the edge storage in the background, which reduces the need for the CDN to fetch a file at the original location, reducing transfer costs and server load.
  • Dynamic Image Optimization: dotCDN enables image transformation, reducing and minifying files to reduce the load and increase website load speeds, which improves user experience and reduces the overall size of a website.
  • Multiple Replicas of Your Data: Datacenters can fail, but with dotCDN you have many replicas of your data around the world, making sure your content is accessible in any region in real-time.
  • Smart Routing: dotCDN monitors your content and traffic and can offer you different routing options and optimizations to adapt to your requirements and give you the best performance possible for every request.
  • Real-time Statistics: dotCDN uses real-time monitoring to show statistics about your CDN from within dotCMS. You can visually see the traffic your CDN is getting with graphs and figures showing Bandwidth Used, Requests Served and the Cache Hit Rate.
  • Edge Rules: You can define custom rules to control delivery, security, and authentication directly on the edge server and without affecting your website performance.

If you want to learn more about dotCMS and how a hybrid CMS can keep your content and assets safe, read our whitepaper Hosted DXP - Enterprise Cloud CMS and learn more about security and how a CDN works in dotCMS.

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