Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do You Need a Content Delivery Network?

The infrastructure to deliver content via the Internet has a way of growing geometrically. There was a time when a single PC and a few incoming telephone lines with modems were all you needed to create, maintain and operate an online Web service. Now you're wondering how you're going to afford the capital equipment, bandwidth and staff to deliver high definition video feeds coast-to-coast. Perhaps the most reasonable solution is to turn the job over to a content delivery network.

The content delivery network or CDN is a specialized service that's roughly analogous to Web hosting services. With hosting, you have the option to create and maintain your own Web server and enough bandwidth to accommodate the incoming traffic. Or you can buy that service. If you decide to outsource to a Web hosting company, all you need is enough Internet bandwidth to upload your content updates. The host takes care of server maintenance, environmental control, backup power quality and high speed connections to the Internet.

The reason to go with a content delivery network is the same as electing to use a hosting service. In many cases its easier, less expensive and faster to scale up than trying to do it yourself. The CDN builds and manages its own private network to store and distribute content over a large geographical area to many simultaneous users. They ensure that there is enough bandwidth to handle the demands of your application, be it software packages, streaming audio, or high definition video. In some cases, they have special arrangements with Internet Service Providers to directly peer with them. Content can move from the CDN into the ISP network, avoiding the public Internet completely.

There are different architectures that content delivery networks can employ. One methodology is to cache multiple copies of the same content on servers around the country. When you request a download, the network figures out which cached copy is closest to your location and available. Others distribute content throughout their own networks and coordinate efficient delivery. Load balancing among distributed servers helps to improve network reliability by being able to bypass a failed server and provide the content from an alternative location.

By the way, how are you set for access bandwidth? If your bandwidth demands now exceed your line capacity, find better deals on WAN bandwidth now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter