Have you ever been in the middle of rush hour in your home city? Or maybe you were visiting a city right when everyone was coming home from work. Yes, you definitely know the feeling. It’s certainly not in the least pleasant, sitting in your car with a stoic expression of distaste, which slowly turns into frustration as you realize how much gas you are wasting just sitting there, waiting to move. All of that is beyond the fact that you just want to get home and rest! This is exactly what happens sometimes on the internet. When everyone in the world wants to access the same websites and popular places online at the same time, congestion occurs, and just like sitting in a traffic jam, you end up waiting a lot longer than you need to.
If only the network had been designed properly! If only it had had a CDN! That is, a content delivery network. This is also known as a content distribution network. This is my personal preference to the name of the network, as it suits its purpose much more clearly. You see, the purpose of a CDN is to create a series of nodes using high availability data centers. This can be a little bit complicated; however, if it is done right, it can be as good as increasing your bandwidth tenfold. That is 10x your current bandwidth.
How is that done? Well, consider this: when everyone is going home at rush hour, they are all using the same routes. This means that there is not enough room for everyone to flow smoothly, increasing latency, increasing collisions, and increasing wait times. Now imagine that there were 10 separate routes that could be taken to get to the different areas of the city, and everyone could use those 10 routes. How much would the traffic flow speed up? Well, theoretically it would increase by 10x. Content distribution networks are exactly the same. What they do is keep traffic off of the backbone of the network by keeping clones of the data on separate high availability data centers, which are placed closer to client ‘hot spots.’ This means that instead of everyone trying to get to one place, they are now accessing ten places with the exact same information.
There are obvious benefits to having such a design. It increases the flow of traffic. It keeps people entering the site, potentially increasing profits and advertising opportunities. It can also be a great way to back up your information in case one or more servers fail.
Of course, there are still drawbacks to everything, and the drawback to this method is the cost. You are now paying for more server space, and servers are not generally cheap. As well, the network becomes considerably more complicated, meaning that more maintenance is required.
With this in mind, having content delivery networks are an essential way to keep high traffic networks working effectively and efficiently, and a great way to keep your clients and customers happy.