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26-10-2016 12:12 PM

The Good and the Bad About CDN: Opinions of 6 Specialists

CDN technology has already evolved greatly during several years it has been existing. However, it is not ideal, and has some drawbacks that are to be eliminated or minimized. What do professionals think about strong and weak sides of CDN? Opinions differ, but all agree: there is much potential!

Kate Wells

It would be nice to use CDNs with specific default options for different kinds of content.

Benefits

Caching of content on edge servers is the strongest point of CDN. Why? First, it allows end-users get if much faster. Secondly, caching reduces the load on origin server considerably. Such option is helpful for both user and web-developer. Management of production traffic is always complicated and multi-task business, and CDN economizes your effort and time by performing all that for you. Scaling, uptime, and protection against DDoS attacks are not such pain in the neck as they used to be – everything is done by CDN provider.

Drawbacks

Implementation and configuration of CDN is always a difficult task, especially for starters. Every provider’s network has this or that kind of challenge, when it comes to configuration, and without specific knowledge and experience, it is hard to understand what is what.  

Solution

In my opinion, it would be great to have a CDN with pre-set configuration for caching some certain types of content. Sometimes caching is really difficult to configure, and this solution would save thousands of users. It would already be good to have configuration for static content and dynamic/SSL content delivery. Of course, the rules should be transparent so that settings could be altered when needed. CDN providers should opt for super configurable and easy-to-set platforms.

Kyle Douglas

CDN providers need to make pricing policy more transparent.

Benefits

Caching on edge servers is the best solution for dealing with traffic spikes and slowing down. Besides, when using third-party CDNs, companies may offload part of their responsibilities – they may scale instead of developing an infrastructure on their own. That saves money and effort. Recently, more global enterprises start relying on third party CDNs.

Drawbacks

Today, one provider cannot specialize on all things at once: video, streaming, dynamic content delivery, small objects – a CDN may be better for some certain kind of data. Businesses search for solutions best of their kind. Moreover, many providers do not explain how pricing is formed. Customers need clear reports showing how much they own, and what they have to pay for. Specific breakdown of used services should be provided.

Solution

CDN companies should find niches where they have strongest services, and let customers know about it. Customers won’t have to fear what will happen when ordering this or that network. Such approach will extend the market and make people less confused. Furthermore, providers should provide clear explanation of what customers pay for, and notify in which cases cost will be more than expected.

Michael Bennet

Transparency on every step of information serving will help to overcome confusion during trouble-shooting.

Benefits

First and foremost, CDN offloads bandwidth from origin server, so you can use minimal hardware and scale on CDN mostly. Secondly, performance is far greater with edge servers, and users see dramatic difference in latency and site speed with such technology.

Another important aspect is implementation of new technologies. With CDNs, such things as HTTP/2, and ability to serve images and fonts become far easier without any adoptions to the site. Some providers or platforms do not provide such opportunity at all.

Drawbacks

Undoubtedly, CDN adds complexity to web hosting, especially when the problem is region-specific. It is hard to identify what exactly causes the problem: edge node, connection between edge node with end user, or edge node with origin server? Besides, HTTPS configuring may be expensive and difficult, depending on the provider.

Solution

To deal with complexity of trouble-shooting, there should be transparency about how information for customer’s domain is served. Drops of traffic may be the sign of issues, but sometimes it is just normal re-balancing of traffic.

HTTPS implementation may not be an issue in a few years, when the demand for non-SNI support disappears. Time will show.

Heather Turner

CDNs should offer more cloud solutions to solve the problem of logging and management.

Benefits

What I love about CDN is great edge delivery: TLS handshake and proxying allow transferring data quickly all around the world. Besides, bandwidth pricing is almost as low as transit pricing, and economics are based on efficiency and performance rather than volume of data transferred.

Drawbacks

Generally, CDN portals aren’t fast, and they don’t have some features. For instance, CDN providers should offer clear log analysis and management solutions. Today, users have to use add-ons and plugins to improve the work of CDN and get performance metrics. That’s not comfortable, so why CDNs wouldn’t simply offer these features onboard?

Solution

The problem of logging can be resolved by a larger number of cloud solutions rendered by CDNs. CDN companies should invest in OpenStack and develop cloud solutions that would make CDNs more scalable.

Christopher Jackson

CDNs, Internet and hosting providers should co-operate to deliver content in one hop.

Benefits

What fascinates me is how quickly CDN technology is evolving. It already transfers 39% of traffic today, and is expected to carry 62% of IP traffic around the world by 2019. With the growth of demand for video delivery and all content connected with it (protocols, encoding, management of asset), this technology has become a real necessity for IT and network services.

It is already widely known that CDN boosts site speed, increases revenue and reduces cost of infrastructure development. But what is astonishing is that this technology is changing permanently, being more and more attractive for users. CDNs offer a wide range of functionalities, including cloud services, optimization, analytics, security, etc.

Drawbacks

Although CDNs are mostly regarded as infrastructure, I would rather call it an application, because a network includes caches and servers, and intelligent software. In order to create a maximum effective CDN infrastructure, one should have rich experience and know how to tune its software correctly.

It is sad that there are so many CDN providers, and most of them compete about how many PoPs are provided, instead of offering innovative and intelligent features. A provider should differ somehow from the rest – newcomers do not focus on innovations, offering the same features as the rest. As far as CDN is still considered to be the technology of the future, I would like to see it evolve and adopt to user’s demands.

Solution

I think that service providers, CDNs and content providers should interact and agree for data exchange and APIs. CDNs, Internet and hosting operator should function according to some universal rules, and CDN should be capable of delivering content in one hop.

Probably, satellite content distribution between countries would be a good idea. Interoperable CDNs should be integrated with content provider so that it would see a single CDN without knowing about each disparate CDN. 

Dennis Stanford

Hybrid and multi-CDN may help to solve most of complicated issues

Benefits

A lot of services that are rendered today cannot be performed with the help of CDNs: video delivery, e-commerce, MMORPG – all that requires CDNs to work efficiently.

Smaller companies benefit from it, too: CDNs allow for worldwide presence. They are essential for broadcasting from one country to another – no other technology may help for international web communication so much.

Drawbacks

I don’t like that some CDNs are very expensive, when they don’t have to be. Besides, unlike dedicated server, CDN is a multi-user application, which is why neighbors may cause problems, such as outages. Due to this fact, security issues may also arise. For instance, if a customer on CDN experiences DDoS attacks, other users may also be affected.

Solution

In my opinion, having a multi-CDN latency-based solution would be a great idea! It guarantees 100% availability, allows routing traffic to the best CDN, which helps to choose a perfect solution both regionally and globally. In case of latency-based approach, a provider can figure out the best option for perfect performance. Another trend that needs to be developed is using of hybrid CDNs when an enterprise may have some other services provided by public CDN vendors on regular basis. That helps to keep costs down and have more control over infrastructure.

How does INXY deal with CDN drawbacks?

Although most of our CDNs are created for static content delivery, we have a specific solution for dynamic content transfer. Our pricing policy is fair: we offer networks for as low as $10 a month. CDN integration is easy: you don’t have to be a tech savvy to implement a network, just follow simple instructions, and our support team is always ready to help.

If you have problems with trouble-shooting when experiencing issues with data transfer, we can analyze CDN – end user and CDN – origin server routes and tell if there is something wrong with them. Large number of PoPs is not what makes us special – we take proud in strong customer support and exceptional quality of services.

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