Content Delivery Network - What It is Used for and How Does It Work?

The transparent Internet infrastructure that handles content delivery is known as a content delivery network (CDN). CDN services are essential for businesses that deliver content to users.

Consider the following −

  • Large news publications with readers in many countries

  • Social media sites that need to deliver multimedia content to users’ feeds

  • Entertainment websites like Netflix deliver high-definition web content in realtime

  • E-commerce platforms with millions of customers

  • Users from different locations access gaming firms with graphically intensive material.

These companies must ensure that their content delivery is accelerated, that services are available, that resources are scalable, and that web applications are secure. Here, CDN services stand out as a special benefit.

Use Cases of Content Delivery Network

Static & Dynamic Acceleration

Your materials that don't need to be created, processed or modified before being given to end users are static content. The static components of your application, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript libraries, or even JSON, HTML, or any dynamic replies that do not change frequently, could be images or other media files, binaries of all kinds, or static copies of images or other media files. Such content can be prefetched, as was already explained. Then, you can purge the desired pathways when you need to invalidate and remove such content from edge servers.

When anything is dynamic, it cannot be cached on edge and requires dynamic acceleration. Consider a WebSocket application that monitors events coming from a server or API endpoint whose response varies based on user credentials, location, or other factors. It is challenging to use edge caching technology in a way that is comparable to caching static content. However, there are some situations when something other than caching should be employed. A closer connection between the app and the CDN may help in other cases. Advanced request/response routing algorithms and CDN's improved network infrastructure are employed for dynamic acceleration.

Latency - CDN improves website load times

Visitors drop off quickly when a website takes too long to load content. In the following ways, CDN services can assist in reducing load times −

  • A CDN's global distribution makes it easier for users to get closer to website resources. A CDN lets users connect to a data center closer to a website's origin server rather than having to click there. Service will be provided quicker if there is less travel time.

  • Hardware and software optimizations like solid-state drives and efficient load balancing can speed up user data delivery.

  • By using techniques like file compression and minification, CDNs can reduce the size of files, reducing the amount of data that needs to be transferred. Smaller file sizes reduce load times.

  • By optimizing connection reuse and enabling TLS false start, CDNs can also speed up sites that use TLS/SSL certificates.

Reliability and Redundancy - CDN keeps a website always online

Anyone who owns Internet property needs to pay close attention to uptime. A web server can be shut down, and users cannot access a service or website due to hardware failures and traffic spikes caused by either malicious attacks or simply an increase in popularity. Several features in a comprehensive CDN will reduce downtime −

By evenly distributing network traffic across several servers, load balancing makes it simpler to scale out sudden traffic increases.

  • Even if one or more CDN servers are offline due to hardware failure, intelligent failover maintains service. The traffic can be redistributed to the other operating servers by failover.

  • Anycast routing moves traffic to another available data center when a whole data center experiences technical difficulties, ensuring that no users lose access to the website.

Data Security - CDN protects data

A CDN's information security is an essential component. With new TLS/SSL certificates, a CDN can maintain a high level of authentication, encryption, and integrity for a website. Examine the methods for securely delivering content and the security concerns surrounding CDNs.Learn about SSL/TLS security for CDNs.

Bandwidth Expense - CDN reduces bandwidth costs

Bandwidth is consumed each time an origin server answers a request. See how a CDN, like Cloudflare's, reduces origin requests and costs associated with bandwidth.

Working Process of Content Delivery Network

An essential component of a content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers linked together to provide content as rapidly, inexpensively, securely, and reliably as feasible. A CDN will position servers in the hubs where several networks connect to boost connection and speed.

These Internet exchange points, or IXPs for short, serve as the main hubs where different Internet service providers connect to share access to traffic from their various networks. A CDN provider can lower high-speed data delivery prices and transit times by connecting to these fast and highly interconnected areas.

A CDN performs numerous client/server data transfer optimizations and places servers in IXPs. CDNs position Data Centers in key places around the world, improve security and are built to withstand a variety of failures and Internet traffic congestion.

A cached version of a content distribution network's content is kept in many locations worldwide (also known as, PoPs or points of presence). Each PoP has several cache servers in charge of distributing content to nearby users.


A content distribution network (CDN), in a nutshell, simultaneously distributes your material across several sites, offering users wider coverage. For instance, Londoners access your US-hosted website through a local UK PoP rather than having visitors' queries and responses travel the entire length of the Atlantic and back.

In this article, we have seen what a content delivery network is, what it is used for (different applications), and how it works.

Updated on: 16-Nov-2022


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