What are CDNs?
Content delivery networks, commonly referred to as CDNs, are a network of servers distributed globally to provide faster content delivery based on end-user location.
How do CDNs work?
The home or origin server sends the content to the server geographically closest to the end user. That server then creates and caches copies of the content. Once the content exists on that server, every other user near that server receives the content faster. This improves load times and network speeds, ultimately improving the user experience.
Users don’t realize the CDN is working behind the scenes, they just appreciate getting their content fast and without hiccups.
Benefits of using a CDN
CDNs provide multiple benefits that are especially helpful for large networks of sites and enterprise-level businesses, including:
- Faster load times due to less stress on the origin server
- Improved SEO performance through improved user experience and web performance
- Content personalization based on geographic location
- A/B testing assistance for optimizing content
- Extra security provided through new TLS/SSL certificates for each query and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection
Services like Cloudfront, Cloudflare, and Akamai aim to serve pages by placing a point of presence local to the end user. This allows fast response times with less network communication, eliminating the need for your application to process the request at all.
The goal is to reduce server load, spreading requests evenly to other nodes of the CDN. Some of these services also promise to prevent malicious requests; however, these services are often pricey.
Third-party CDNs do provide some protection for your application. But do you have enough time or budget to engage them as your site traffic ramps up and your application hits its limits? The other option is selecting a CMS platform that comes with built-in CDN functionality.
Are you using WordPress VIP to host your site(s)? Then you are already enjoying the benefits of a CDN through our built-in edge cache servers.
WordPress VIP also offers multiple APIs for other CDN capabilities, such as Photon for dynamic sizing and VIP Cache Personalization for:
- Content personalization
- A/B testing
- Gating content
- Content paywalls
- 3rd party integrations