Overall website performance is determined by a large number of factors. For businesses leveraging cloud services, the cloud hosting provider's performance capabilities have a large impact on website loading and download times. As a recent Wired magazine article pointed out, one company's website may be coming from 1,000 different places at once.
However, the capabilities of website visitor devices and even user locations also make a difference. Businesses may not be able to control the location of their web visitors, but they can control the efficiency with which they are able to deliver content to a range of locations by using a content delivery network. CDNs play a critical role in increasing the efficiency of websites.
What content delivery networks do
A recent Sys-Con Media blog post provided a good overview of what CDNs are and what they do. CDNs are designed to replicate and redistribute the files necessary to load a website, allowing website visitors to access critical files from a source that is closer to them.
For example, when a user from Australia tries to access a web page hosted in the United States, there could be a long delay in loading the web page, especially for video and image content. Instead of always checking for files on the other side of the world, the CDN looks for data stored closer to the user. It it finds a closer copy of the file, it uses that file instead of the original.
The post identified several primary uses for a CDN:
• Downloading: Large downloadable files should be stored on a CDN. This will greatly impact user download speeds.
• Streaming: CDNs provide a great deal of stability when streaming video or audio content, which allows users to engage content without long loading times and interruptions.
Benefits of using a CDN
The post highlighted several major benefits for both small and large businesses. Small businesses can benefit from CDNs because they provide a great deal of scalability, which can handle large spikes of business growth and adjust to new demands. For larger businesses, CDNs reduce costs by lowering the maintenance demands and optimizing website performance. However, businesses of all sizes can achieve significant results by using a CDN.
"The greatest benefit of using this kind of solution is the site performance gains," the post stated. "Statistics from a Stack Overflow performance test state that using a content delivery network can improve file transfer speeds by 100–500 percent. While these numbers vary between providers, a site’s loading speed is greatly increased with any provider."
Performance for both mobile users and desktop users is becoming critical to the perception of business. Companies can improve their web presence by selecting CDN, cloud hosting and other service providers that offer performance guarantees and a high level of flexibility.