Improving website performance with multi-CDN

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The delivery of fast and seamless digital experiences is a must have for brands looking to serve up online content that keeps users interacting for longer. Whether this is delivering static content such as images and text, or streaming content like videos and audio files that are played via a web browser.

In 2023 a brand’s reputation and professionalism increasingly stands and falls on the speed and dependability of its online presence and how quickly and reliably their website’s content is served up. Because, when it comes to user perceptions of brand credibility, speed counts. Indeed, according to the web analytics firm Kissmetrics, 40% of users will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

To respond to the ever-growing user demand for swifter online content delivery, organizations have turned to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to relieve the pain points associated with traditional web hosting.

Not all CDN solutions are made equal

Since the 1990s, CDNs have provided infrastructure organizations the means to serve up website content to audiences within specific geographic locations. Delivered via a distributed group of servers, a CDN supports the quick transfer of assets – HTML pages, JavaScript files, images, stylesheets and videos -by distributing and caching content to a CDN server close to users so that visitors get to experience faster page load times.

Organizations with static website content and new start-ups targeting certain geographic locations often start off using single-CDN providers. However, this reliance on a single CDN provider can prove a risky proposition on a number of counts. For example, if the CDN’s network experiences issues, this will result in a loss of website uptime and outage. Similarly, users may experience significant performance degradation whenever traffic volumes spike. Meanwhile, users who are located the farthest away from the single provider’s CDN servers may well experience much slower load times.

To counter these inherent problems, organizations are opting to diversify their content delivery across multi-CDN providers. Should one CDN experience any form of disruption, switches will automatically re-route traffic to another provider to ensure uninterrupted content delivery. Alongside providing the instant failover, resilience, redundancy, coverage and geo performance today’s organizations need, multi-CDN solutions also make it easier for organizations to accelerate their website load times by distributing content through servers located closest to end-users.

For organizations, these faster website load times equate to reduced bounce rates, longer user dwell times, and improved ecommerce transaction rates.

Sharan Kumar

Product manager for Content Delivery Networks and Cloud Storage at Leaseweb.

Top use cases for multi-CDN

Multi-CDN is particularly well-suited for businesses that can't predict their traffic patterns accurately. During peak traffic, a single-CDN's point of presence (POP) can become overloaded, leading to latency and low-quality content delivery. By contrast, a multi-CDN will constantly monitor the performance of various POPs and can switch to the best-performing provider within seconds, ensuring seamless content delivery regardless of traffic volume.

As businesses scale up, begin to handle larger volumes of customers or data, or expand into new geographies, switching to a multi-CDN strategy will ultimately prove more cost effective and reliable for organizations looking to assure their web applications perform well in all regions, at all times. Similarly, multi-CDN solutions are a must have for organizations that need to deliver live streaming media and other bandwidth-intensive digital content to users with the lowest possible latency.

When assessing a multi-CDN solution, organizations should look for dynamic and intelligent content routing and switching options based on actual end-user metrics to ensure content is served via the optimal CND provider at a granular level. Additionally, the multi-CDN should either maintain or improve the current cache hit ratio.

Finally, organizations with a substantial demand for content featuring large files like games, videos, and software uploads/downloads or who run on-demand and live streaming services should seek out multi-CDNs specifically tailored for high-workload applications.

CDN security considerations

While adopting a multi-CDN approach offers organizations multiple performance advantages, organizations need to be mindful of some important security considerations. Since CDNs store and distribute huge volumes of data, they are a top target for hackers looking to undertake DDoS attacks, distribute malware to users accessing hosted content, or to steal or compromise user data. Unfortunately, however, not all CDN providers offer the same level of security.

To protect their websites, organizations should utilize a layered security approach that features digital rights management (DRM) tools to ensure that only authorized users can access content. Similarly, when assessing a multi-CDN solution, organizations should expect to encounter a variety of robust security measures such as DDoS protection, SSL/TLS encryption, web application firewalls and content security policies.

Moving ahead with confidence

Today’s multi-CDN solutions offer the cost-effective scalability, capacity, availability and enhanced performance today’s organizations need to assure the fast, high quality and reliable delivery of content to users. Using multi-CDN in conjunction with robust and multi-tier DRM solutions will help ensure that organizations can manage the robust end-to-end secure delivery of digital content to users everywhere.

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Sharan Kumar is product manager for Content Delivery Networks and Cloud Storage at Leaseweb.