When the internet was first created, its architects couldn’t have fathomed the ways it would be used today. That said, it was designed according to the end-to-end principle, making it ideal for forwarding data packets directly. Fast-forward to today, and the internet is used everywhere by everyone, and the content is as varied as the people who produce it. This variety makes it incredibly important for content providers to deliver content in a way that ensures their end users have a positive experience. Enter CDNs.
CDNs allow businesses to deliver content to customers faster and more efficiently than transmitting directly from the origin server. However, while the goal remains largely the same, the technique for delivering content can vary depending on an organization’s needs.
It’s important to consider the different methods for delivering content since performance will depend on the type of content. For example, a live sporting event couldn’t use the same delivery techniques as an on-demand service like Netflix or Hulu. By tailoring your content delivery method to your needs, it’s possible to control costs while maximizing performance for your users.
Four Common Content Delivery Techniques
CDNs were created to supplement the internet’s client-to-host design and improve how content is delivered. However, CDNs aren’t all created equal, and providers can use different protocols based on their use case. Let’s consider four different CDN protocols:
- Anycast. CDNs that use the anycast delivery method are able to flexibly route incoming requests to the nearest data center with the capacity to process the request. This flexibility allows CDNs to better handle periods of high traffic and helps protect against DDoS attacks.
- Cache-based. Cache-based CDNs leverage content nodes distributed closer to end users that store popular content based on usage. These nodes are then able to deliver content much faster because of their proximity to the users and lighten the load on data centers and distributed infrastructure.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P). P2P networks utilize client resources to share and distribute content. This CDN delivery method is dependent on users contributing compute resources to the network and has very low system requirements for the original distributor. However, because of its dependence on user capabilities, organizations have less control over performance.
- Unicast. Unicast CDNs deliver content directly to a user’s IP address. This delivery method is ideal for delivering customized and low-demand content.
These are some of the most common CDN protocols. A provider’s ability to choose a content delivery method depends on their computing infrastructure and if they have a public or private CDN. Many of these protocols/CDN types work together. For example, a cache-based CDN may leverage the anycast delivery method to give users a fast experience while improving their network security. Another factor that affects their infrastructure is how they have their CDN set up.
CDNs Enhance the Network Closest to the User
The CDN’s goal is to move content closer to users and improve individual experiences. By improving customer experience, content providers protect their user base from atrophy and prepare their business to scale. Content providers typically have their CDN set up in one of three ways:
- Self-managed infrastructure which is either completely private or a hybrid that leverages cloud services
- A specialized CDN provider that offers server overlay capabilities in the form of service
- A network service provider who offers specialized CDN cache services as a managed service
With the latter two options, the organization may not have a lot of control over its infrastructure since it’s relying on a service provider for computing infrastructure. However, the self-managed content provider needs to make important infrastructure decisions to ensure a reliable network.
Organizations must manage not only central CDN data centers but also edge nodes and edge PoPs. Edge servers allow content providers to deliver content even closer to the user, moving servers from large metropolitan areas to mid-sized cities and smaller. In doing so, content providers have to make more hardware decisions than ever before.
Edge Infrastructure That’s Built for Scale
Matching hardware to your computing needs is challenging. Apart from making edge infrastructure decisions that simplify maintenance and allow you to scale, you must also consider the infrastructure supply chain. At Intequus, we take the complexity out of your edge infrastructure supply chain. With the most white box server solutions on the market, our team can help you customize edge server solutions to your unique content needs.
Are you ready to build infrastructure that’s scalable, fully customizable, and covered by our full-lifecycle support? Talk to one of our experts today.