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Welcome to the Show of Content Delivery Networks
Act 1 – The What and Why
By: Kristian Skoeld
Dec. 11, 2013 10:00 AM
"Step right in. You will witness a show of magic and wonders, passion and trust, speed and misunderstandings." a (slightly altered) catch phrase that keeps popping in my head when talking to companies in regards to managing Content Delivery Networks (CDN). Apart from the misconception that a CDN will solve all performance problems one of the great unknowns seems to be how to actually monitor CDNs the right way. And as we all know: you can't manage what you don't understand! So in three "Acts" I will walk you through the main purpose of CDNs, how such systems have to be monitored and what dirty unknowns the right strategy can bring to the surface.
Years ago I was a member in an Off-Theatre group in Berlin. Why that would have any relevance to the CDN topic, you may ask. Part of our maturity journey resembles what almost all companies go through when they end up paying for a CDN service. We were a passionate group, lots of talent (of course), lots of energy and had a dedicated fan group. However we had the same challenge as all off-theatre groups have: no budget, hence no real publicity from a marketing perspective. We started printing flyers and postcards to promote the show. First small numbers and then more and more putting them in pubs, restaurants, book shops, etc. While happy with the result the whole thing stole a lot of our time. So we began to delegate: friends and fans would distribute and in return get free tickets. After a while we realized that we needed to get into better locations like Hotel lobbies and other flyer stands, which however were controlled by marketing agencies.
So we decided to look for one which would help us out and a whole cascade of questions had to be answered:
And these are questions which certainly should look familiar if you've ever had to deal with a CDN.
What is a CDN?
Why use a CDN?
Externalizing Load Balancing
Primary CDN use cases: load balancing and latency reduction
And of course mixes of these 2 main benefits like high traffic sites with international reach or outsourcing relatively few but large file downloads are relevant as well.
So the two main things to look for when it comes to CDN investments are:
Does the CDN help to achieve the overall goal of performance improvement for the end user by:
and by how much?
Scarily enough over the years I have realized that many companies in the end base their decision on which CDN to choose on gut feeling and guesswork. Many do run an evaluation project, however in most cases the methodology of these projects is questionable.
What to look at when choosing a CDN?
And to be able to make informed decisions and not just guessing about the current situation you need to be confident in answering the following questions. Click here to learn what questions you need to be asking - and what answers you need to be looking for regarding a CDN.
The old way of monitoring doesn't work and not having control over the situation can be disastrous!
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