A content delivery network, or content distribution network (CDN), is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers.
Caching technology has been around as early as the Internet itself. It is a standpoint between the user and the server; by implementing a storage retrieval system that keep copies of static pages of regularly accessed websites, a user’s computer need not fetch pack loads of data all the way from the source, each time the same website is visited. With a cache server, technically you have a copy of the information that you need, located in another box nearer to you.
Enterprise users are one type of users of cache technology. If you work for a company that deploys Microsoft servers in its network, very likely you are one of the millions of cache server users worldwide. Within generations of Windows server editions, is a software module known as Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), and this is the cache engine used by Microsoft to complement their network and server offerings to its corporate end users. IT managers would refer them as proxy servers.
Now caching technology have grown leaps and bounds and started making their way to Internet Exchange Points (IXPs); the networks located and operated by your local Internet Service Providers. The purpose of implementing caching near to the IXPs is to bring web services closer to you and I. This will reduce bandwidth load between international gateways, ease traffic management and speed up delivery of necessary bits and bytes, so that the information shows up faster on our web browsers. These modern implementations of caching technology at the last mile or edge of the Internet is what gave birth to the term Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).
Content Delivery Networks have also grown into enterprise solutions to allow edge computing resources to be made available to smaller server administrators requiring a solution to optimize access traffic. With the advent of companies like Cloudflare, Fastly and Alibaba Cloud CDN Service, content delivery network services is now within the reach of the regular consumer and can be purchased as-a-service instead of requiring content providers to set up their own cache servers everywhere.
And beyond the future,, as telecommunication companies expand into 5th and 6th generation wireless networks, the need for edge computing and CDN services will increase rapidly. 5G will bring about massive bandwidth consumption growth, as more and more things become software-defined. This will lead to an explosive expansion of CDN data center deployments globally as resource providers will eventually figure it out that they need to send their services closer to the edge, and nearer to their customers. In fact, the deployment of wireless 5G base stations usually incorporates a set of virtual infrastructure that acts as the base for edge computing or CDN delivery, set and ready for any content provider to establish their point of presence.
To the novice content provider, signing up for a simple CDN access service could bring immense benefits. Web visitors and viewers gain by quicker response time to their web services, and the computing resource where the services originates from, is no longer burdened with large amounts of Internet traffic, as the network becomes more evenly distributed to various parts of the world. CDN is already a crucial feature for content providers having global audience.
The only set back that really concerns us with CDN is security. To engage a CDN service, one has to point his domain name DNS to servers providers and managed by CDN companies. If you are hosting sensitive information in the identical data path of that domain, like emails for instance, a breach occurring at the CDN networks could result in exposing your data publicly.
Ultimately, if the idea of using a CDN service is confined to public services delivery or involving data and information that is open to all, this should not be much of a concern when deliberating whether or not to use CDN as a viable and effective alternative to optimizing your resource outreach.