Content delivery networks (CDNs) can cut page load times by two-thirds or more, providing end-users with better performance. Speed improvements like these make it possible for content providers to offer more technologically demanding applications and entertainment to their audiences.

The goal of a CDN is to store frequently used data or data that would be useless if received late closer to the users. CDN’s do this through strategically distributed points of presence (PoPs) and edge nodes that help speed up content delivery, reduce data transmission costs, increase the global availability of content, and make the network more secure by distributing the attack surface.

However, CDNs aren’t as simple as a few servers placed in suitable locations. In the following few paragraphs, we’ll look at the different components of a CDN and how they come together to provide the advantages above for organizations and users.

Breaking Down CDN Architecture

Diagram shows the relationship between origin servers, control nodes, delivery nodes, and storage nodes.

Source: https://www.nokia.com/blog/new-approach-publishing-and-caching-video/

CDN architecture is heavily dependent on several factors, like network size, network reach, and the type of content delivered. The number of data centers, edge PoPs, and edge nodes depends a lot on the architecture, prioritizing speed while others prioritize coverage and other metrics.

When we drill down further, we see that the nodes of a CDN have specialized purposes. For example, a CDN may contain control nodes, storage nodes, delivery nodes, and of course, origin servers. What do all of these connection points do, and how do they work together?

Origin servers. These are the servers that are home to the original data. Content is either pushed or pulled from the origin servers and then stored at edge nodes designed for delivery or storage.

Control nodes. Control nodes are where management, routing, monitoring, and security tools reside. In some CDN architectures, the delivery or storage nodes also have security tools.

Delivery nodes. These nodes are the key to content delivery. By positioning delivery edge nodes as close to the user as possible, content providers can cut data transfer times by two-thirds or more. These nodes work in conjunction with origin servers to receive or pull data as needed and then distribute data to their dedicated regions. Once the data goes to the edge node, there is no need to access the data center for similar requests.

Storage nodes. Another layer that adds efficiency to the CDN, especially for large networks, is storage nodes. Instead of pinging the origin servers, delivery nodes can ping strategically placed storage nodes for better latency and lower demand on the origin servers.

Combine Optimal CDN Design With High Performing Hardware

Planning your infrastructure in a way that best serves your customers is just one part of a high-performance CDN. Smart hardware choices play a significant role in network reliability, performance, and controlling costs. CDNs are sprawling networks that need flexible hardware that can fit the needs of individual regions and scale with ease. Intequus helps its partners manage the entire hardware lifecycle. Whether a company needs edge PoP or edge node hardware, our team can help you build machines that work harmoniously with the rest of your infrastructure. Talk to a team member to learn more.

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