You may not know it but every time that you use the internet, you interact with CDN’s (Content Delivery Networks). You use CDN services when you read news articles, post in social media sites, watch videos, and even when you shop online.
CDN’s fingerprints can be found everywhere. It doesn’t matter what content you are into, there is a high probability that they are behind every video or movie that you watch, every word that you read, and every image that you look at on your mobile phones and computers.
A Content Delivery Network, also known as Content Distribution Network, is a network of global distribution servers that delivers cached pages and content to online users based on their geographical locations and the location of the server of the website that is being requested.
To fully understand what CDN’s are, we need to know what their designed purpose is.
CDN’s were designed to solve the latency problems that users encounter whenever they request a particular website content or page. This latency is defined as the time delay that occurs from the time that you request a page to the time that you see it on your screen. The extent of this time delay can be affected by various factors specific to a particular website, but in most cases, the duration is dependent on the physical distance of the requesting user to the website’s hosting server.
This is where the function of the CDN’s come in. CDN’s are used to improve the rendering speed and performance of websites by virtually shortening the physical distance between users and the website’s server.
CDN’s were created to minimize latency by virtually shortening the distance between data requesters and data providers. CDN’s solves this problem by storing cached versions of website contents in different network locations called PoP (Point of Presence). Each of these PoP is responsible for delivering these cached contents to visitors that request this data within its proximity.
To explain further, CDN’s obtains a copy of all the websites that they service and stores them to their different server locations, so that for example, an online visitor from Hong Kong access a Canada-hosted website, the data will be delivered by a local PoP in Hong Kong instead of being delivered by the website’s Canada server. This is done to shorten the time it takes for the content to reach its destination, thus minimizing the time delay.
In reality, the process is much more complicated and most CDN’s provide additional features to its clients. However, this article pretty much explains what CDN’s are and how they work in minimizing latency issues.