CDN services are an essential part of the internet backbone and make streaming and fast loading speeds possible, but not all CDN services are created alike.
By David Pospisil
Whether it’s Netflix, Spotify, or any of the other hundreds of popular live streaming services out there, CDNs, or “content delivery networks,” are a major part of the magic sauce being whipped up behind the curtain that make all that on-demand content possible.
CDNs are a key part of our modern internet infrastructure that enables us to enjoy our favorite live streaming services, but it is important to understand that not all CDNs are created equal. Whether it’s the number of PoPs (points of presence) they have, the cost of their services, or what type of features they offer, CDN services can be just as varied as the types of websites and content they support.
Once You PoP You Can’t Stop
PoPs, or “points of presence”, are an essential part of the CDN experience. A PoP refers to a farm of caching servers around the globe that are responsible for content delivery to visitors within its proximity. A CDN’s mission is to virtually shorten the physical distance between the server and the user (the requester of the service), with the goal to improve site rendering speed and performance. Effectively, CDNs enable users to experience rapid load times and bufferless media streaming no matter where in the world they’re connecting from.
For example, if a user in the UK wants to connect to a US-based website, rather than sending that request all the way over the Atlantic, a CDN service will render the content from a locally hosted server in the UK complete with a cached version of the content that person is interested in.
Consequently, it’s not hard to fathom that the more PoPs a CDN offers, the faster your content will load for more users around the globe. It is a known fact that with every second that a website spends loading content, the potential of lost conversions increases exponentially. Roughly 47 percent of users surveyed said that they expect a website to load in around two seconds or less if they’re connected through their home network (mobile users connecting over cellular are a different beast altogether).
More PoPs doesn’t just mean faster load times, it also means more fail-safes in place. Say a server hosted in Atlanta, Georgia goes offline and you have users in the southern United States trying to stream a movie off your site. If a CDN offers another POP just a short hop over in Dallas, Texas, the difference in load times and buffering speeds will be negligible enough to the point where your users may not even notice a difference in the first place.
By choosing a CDN that offers a large number of POPs in the regions where you see the most traffic, you can ensure that your users’ endpoint experience will always be fast, seamless, and free of the slow load times that can kill a site’s credibility if left unchecked.
Don’t Stand Out from the Crowd
It’s estimated that upwards of 50 percent of all websites active on the net today are integrated with some form of CDN service. This means that if you want to keep your user experience consistent in both speed and reliability with what the rest of the web has to offer, employing a CDN is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways of making it happen.
Speaking of cost, what should you expect to spend on your CDN service? To get started, many CDNs will offer some form of free trial or free service which covers a minimal amount of the globe so you can get a feel for the service and have an opportunity to try out some of the features they have in their toolbelt.
From there, pricing can vary pretty wildly depending on the service you choose to go with, the bandwidth speeds you need the CDN to be able to handle, and the amount of data you plan on delivering every month.
On average one should expect to spend anywhere between $0.060 per gigabyte down to $0.020 per gigabyte, but again this usually depends on the amount of traffic you’re having served, how much data you’re storing, and how many PoPs you intend on delivering data from globally.
As the demand for data goes up in our increasingly connected world, CDNs are the first and last line of defense against the dreaded problem of content hosting speed and reliability issues. By employing the services of a CDN, you can guarantee that users in even the most remote regions of the world will get the same experience as someone browsing from the heart of London or New York City.
Since not all live streaming CDN services are alike, it is important that when you do decide to make the plunge, you do plenty of research to find the CDN that fits your needs, budget, and customer service requirements the best.
David Pospisil is the founder and CEO at CDNsun. Since 2012 CDNsun has helped clients accelerate their online content as well as their businesses. Our mission is to provide affordable Content Delivery Network (CDN) services that are of high reliability, performance and security. Our solutions include website acceleration, software & game delivery, ad serving, live streaming, and on-demand video streaming.