Data Transfer Performance and CDNs

For any developer, a massive amount of data must be transferred during deployment of an application. It’s not uncommon for developers to fight for bandwidth during large data transfers with other users both customers and co-workers. Poor transfer speeds can stem from several issues including poor infrastructure, low bandwidth or insufficient server resources. Adding a content delivery network (CDN) can alleviate congestion and free up resources during deployments and large file transfers.

Big Data Transfers

For large applications, a deployment can require several gigabytes of data transferred to a hosting server. FTP and HTTP are both used to transfer this data, but most hosting services throttle bandwidth accessibility based on the plan chosen during contractual signup.

If deployments are done during busy peak hours, the bandwidth used can severely slow speeds for customers trying to browse the organization’s site or download from a repository. In addition to slow speeds, large data transfers add to the monthly hosting cost for customers that pay based on the amount of data used.

These big data transfers are a necessity, and some organizations work day and night, so transferring data during off-peak hours isn’t an option. For businesses that need to ensure fast speeds at all hours of the day, even weekends, the only option is to increase bandwidth, pay for expensive infrastructure resources, or adding a CDN to the mix can improve performance without the expensive upgrades.

CDNs and Big Data Transfer Support

Transfer speeds are measured in bits per second (bps), and bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred in a given amount of time. More bandwidth just means that the organization can transfer more data in a smaller amount of time. Transfer speeds can be measured in terabytes, gigabytes and megabytes for older infrastructure with slow capacity.

For organizations that have bot internal and external file downloads, a CDN can alleviate congestion by moving traffic from customer downloads to CDN servers. CDNs have data centers located across the globe in several strategic geographic locations. These data centers have edge servers that pull data from an organization’s main server and cache it on the local server. When users make a request to download a file, they contact the closest edge server where content is cached. Cached content is served faster, and the organization’s main bandwidth isn’t being used.

By adding a CDN into infrastructure, customers no longer contact one location. Customers closer to a data center use CDN resources and download from a different location than the origin server, which frees up server and bandwidth for the organization.

The cost for new CDN service is measured by the amount of data that you use, and it’s only a few cents per gigabyte. This service is great for businesses that use big data and transfer large files across the Internet. It’s also beneficial for customers that request large files such as software or gaming patches, version upgrades or application distribution. Even with the added cost, the reduction in data use can greatly lower an IT bill for bandwidth use.

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Why Game Developers Prefer CDNs Over Traditional Hosting

Speed is one of the main factors in a successful game. Whether you develop a desktop or mobile game, gamers expect downloads and dynamic content to load quickly. Lag and high ping times could be the death of a game even if its storyline and presentation are top notch. Developers can control speed by making optimized code that runs on the local machine, but download speed is controlled by bandwidth and the hosting server. A CDN can remove all performance issues from traditional hosting and provide fast speeds even for large files in the gaming world.

Game Developers and File Downloads

With higher end graphics and images, game files have increased exponentially and outpaced speed for server resources and Internet bandwidth. A gaming developer must be able to delivery fast content, but these large files pose a problem when users are located globally.

Traditionally, gaming developers had to find infrastructure that could support large file transfers and locations where data centers could support global users. With a CDN, developers just need to sign up for service rather than worry about the infrastructure and hardware resources in each location.

When you research “caching,” you see that several hosting companies offer server caching, but a CDN offers this technique with its service regardless of the type of service that you have. CDNs cache data on its edge servers located at strategic geographic locations. These servers are ready for a spike in traffic and have the resources to handle any activity whether it’s large file downloads or dynamic content that gamers rely on for a good gaming experience.

Implementing a CDN into gaming infrastructure takes a lot of the planning, design and tedious details away from the developer so they can concentrate on doing what they do best – creating great gaming content that users love. By placing the infrastructure on a CDN, game developers leverage operations, security and optimization efforts from experts.

Even Boxed Games are Affected

Before you think a boxed game has no use for a CDN, remember that boxed games usually have patches and updates released after the initial game launch. Boxed games have the advantage of being stored on media that can handle large files, but eventually any patches must be downloaded should the game expand with new releases and versions.

With a CDN, patches can be delivered to users quickly without the fear of lag and server crashes. Instead of relying on a server farm in one location, a CDN pulls data directly from the gaming server and cache it locally. When patches are released, users download these files from a location closest to their Internet connection. This alleviates any issues of traffic spikes when games with millions of users have updates released during specific times each week or each month.

Whether your game targets mobile or desktop users, a CDN takes care of any bandwidth and server resource issues when it comes to file downloads and delivery. Gamers have little patience for slow, laggy games and ignoring performance can cost you thousands in revenue from angry gamers. With a CDN, you ensure that game delivery is fast and efficient.

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Working with a Content Delivery Network Strategy

For any online business having performance issues, adding a CDN into the mix of server resources and fast hosting will speed up applications immediately. You can’t just add a CDN to infrastructure without a plan. It’s also good to identify performance issues and audit speed after changes are made to infrastructure to see the value of a CDN to your overall metrics.

Distance Always Affects Speed

Data over fiber travels at the speed of light, but even this speed is affected by distance. A user on the other side of the globe will see a performance difference compared to a user in the same geographic area as your hosted server.

Years ago, this issue wasn’t a problem for most applications, because many online stores catered to a local market. Now, businesses can ship orders to anyone in any country around the globe, so they need an application that’s fast regardless of a user’s location. This is where a CDN is helpful and can improve performance without requiring any expensive server resources.

A CDN has data centers at locations where a majority of users are located in different geographic areas. By hosting content on a CDN, you move data from a location thousands of miles away from potential customers to a data center within a few hundred miles. The difference is noticeable immediately buy users accessing your application.

Additional CDN Benefits

What’s often left out of CDN deployment plans are the two additional benefits that a CDN brings. The first one is SSL termination that protects from some cyber security attacks. For some content, the CDN does not cache the information but instead passes requests from a data center directly to the client’s origin server. This “middle man” activity protects he origin server from some malicious attacks such as DDoS.

Scalability is usually an unforeseen benefit but it’s one of the best advantages of using a CDN. With traditional hosting, you must constantly watch for any traffic spikes. Even if you consistently monitor traffic levels, it takes time to implement additional resources and roll out changes. You then pay for additional resources when traffic drops during slow seasons. A CDN remedies high spikes as well as scales down when traffic drops.

CDNs can handle a large spike in traffic that would otherwise stall a traditionally hosted server. Site crashes can ruin a launch for a new application or game, but with a CDN your bandwidth and speed stay consistent without the performance lag from high traffic days.

Adding a CDN to Your Infrastructure

Most site owners think the cost to add a CDN to infrastructure is expensive, but you can pay as you go or pay a monthly payment to cover your traffic needs. Configuring a CDN doesn’t take much technology know-how, and it can be done by your administrator or a site owner that handles server management themselves.

Because a CDN scales with traffic, the pay as you go plan is the best for startups. It’s a small price to have some security protection and faster speeds for customers.

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Where Does a CDN Fit Into Your Application Design?

When performance issues impact your bottom line, there are several ways you can speed up an application. Code optimization, better server resources, and even moving off of shared hosting can help speed up an application. What many organizations fail to realize is that the addition of a CDN can speed up an application more than several other optional changes. The addition of a CDN can do much more for speed than additional server resources or code optimization. While these infrastructure changes do help, a CDN will do much more.

Many businesses struggling to fight performance issues see a CDN as an expensive unnecessary option, but you can pay as you go at a low price per gigabyte of use. In addition to seeing a CDN as an expensive addition, most businesses don’t see the advantages. Here are just a few.

Acceleration of web pages. CDNs cache content on its edge servers, so your customers get content delivery from a data center closest to their location. Instead of only having one server to represent your company pages, you now have dozens located around the globe.

Improved video streaming and file downloads.  Not every application embeds YouTube or Vimeo content. Developers that build their own streaming solution will find that using a CDN greatly improves video quality. With faster delivery, users can download large files including video at a faster rate, and a CDN reduces the skipping and poor quality from slower connections.

Lower costs than added server resources. Server hardware costs thousands upfront. Even if you decide to host in the cloud, the more resources that you add to your host the more money you spend each month. The alternative is to add a CDN to your infrastructure and pay a scalable cost that increases only as traffic and revenue increase as well. Small businesses don’t have to worry about expensive equipment and hosting. Instead, their servers perform at the same speed as a large competitor site application.

Reliability and consistent uptime. With any addition to infrastructure, the first thought is if the new addition will cause any downtime. A CDN offers better reliability than traditional hosting, because data center servers pull content from the origin server and cache it. Although it should not be the only solution for reliability, a CDN can provide support and consistency for content delivery and mitigate downtime.

Flexibility with budget and hosting. A CDN can work with any hosting solution and budget. Since a CDN’s cost scale with traffic, costs only go up when traffic and sales increase. You still maintain the same host, but a CDN offers the flexibility of adding performance without the hassle of moving your hosting solution to a faster service.

In addition to the many benefits of a CDN, configuring service to work with an organization’s hosting is simplified so that an IT administrator or small business owner can implement service. If you’re fighting performance issues, instead of fighting costs and resources, add a CDN to your application’s infrastructure and you will immediately see results in addition to the several other benefits.

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How a CDN Offers Fast, Secure Performance at Affordable Rates

Any Internet service that uses traditional web hosting isn’t getting the most out of their bandwidth. A CDN can improve speed regardless of the size of downloadable files, spike in user traffic, and the type of content served to users. Before you implement a CDN, you might wonder how a CDN offers fast performance. Here are a few items a CDN support for better performance and security.

SSL/TLS Support

Web users are more concerned with privacy than they were a decade ago. It’s important that a CDN offers encryption support using SSL or TLS for your public-facing applications. CDNs support SSL/TLS to keep user data secure. Supporting web encryption also protects end users from man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM) attacks.

Support for HTTP/2

Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) is the protocol for transferring data from a web server to a user’s browser. HTTP/2 is the latest version of this protocol that allows SSL and non-HTTPS sites to transfer data. The improvements in HTTP provide better performance and faster transfer of data. CDNs that support this new protocol version offer the fastest speeds available to users and origin servers.

Several Network Locations and Data Centers

A CDN’s Point of Presence (POP) provides the application with several cached instances on edge servers located at a data center. These edge servers deliver content based on the requestor’s location. Instead of having one origin server deliver content from one location, a CDN delivers content from several locations based on the recipients geographic location.

The CDN you choose should have several POPs for faster speeds.  Not only can you leverage a data center’s advanced technology, but by using a CDN you also use PoPs for proximity to your users. By providing users with a content delivery system close to their location, it’s delivered much faster. Should one server crash or be unavailable due to network issues, a CDN will deliver content from the next closest location. CDNs provide constant content delivery without the worry of crashed servers or downtime due to broken equipment.

Analytics and Performance

Most traditional hosts don’t offer traffic analytics. You can get analytics using applications embedded on a website, but these applications are mainly for SEO and traffic. A CDN can give you resource usage statistics and performance that gives insight to server performance. These statistics help application developers and site owners detect when resources must be upgraded. CDNs also provide usage statistics on your application as a whole rather than statistics based on user traffic as they access specific pages.

Content Purging

CDNs speed up content delivery by caching static content from an origin server. This content is cached on every edge server across each PoP. When content is old and must be updated after a new deployment, a CDN provides tools to purge this outdated content and force the edge server to download the most recent information. This provides application owners with the ability to ensure that customers receive the latest content from the origin server.

Overall, a CDN speeds up any application regardless of the speed of a traditional origin server. These services are better for security, reliability, integrity of the application, and performance.

 

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How a CDN Can Speed Up Your Video Content

Most people have watched at least one  YouTube video, and streaming from this site is never slow. Users expect streaming from any site to be as fast as YouTube browsing, and it can be done with the right infrastructure setup including a CDN implementation.

On-Demand Video Streaming

Deployed video content comes in several different formats. You should decide which one is right for you, and any format that you choose will be compatible with a CDN setup.

The first format is a direct download. This isn’t the most common, because the user must be able to download the video and run it on a local desktop. Short video files aren’t too large, but longer video requires a few gigabytes. A CDN will cache this data and deliver downloads faster than forcing users to connect directly to one origin server.

Progressive downloads are much more popular. When a user requests a progressive download video, the server sends content bit-by-bit. Users are able to view content within seconds of accessing the video page. As the user watches the video, the video is downloaded in the background. If you’ve ever lost an Internet connection while streaming video, you’ll notice that you can continue watching for a few more seconds even after losing connectivity. This is progressive downloading at work.

HTTP streaming is similar to progressive downloads, except this format determines the speed of the recipient’s video player. When resources and Internet speed are low, the player downgrades the size of the download. The content transferred requires fewer bits, and the user can still watch content even with a slower Internet connection. If you’ve ever watched a Netflix video, quality of video reduces when your Internet connection slows down.

With all three off these options, a CDN can help speed up transfer of data. Users connect to a CDN’s edge server that’s closest geographically to the viewer. Using cached content and CDN servers closer to the user will speed up delivery and create high-quality output regardless of the type of video content that you deploy.

Live Video Content

With live video, you won’t be able to cache content but you can still integrate a CDN. Using a CDN, you can increase bandwidth and transfer speeds. The biggest problem with live video is the spikes in traffic to view the content, and you stream direct from your location to the user. Users experience. With a CDN, you can add more bandwidth to the user’s connection and transfer video content at optimal speeds regardless of the amount of traffic that requests live stream video.

Remember that you still need enough server resources on your origin server to store and deliver content to the CDN, but overall implementing CDN resources can increase performance on video content.

Any website owner that wants to host content should use a CDN, and before you think it’s an expensive part of site infrastructure, it’s actually an affordable way to speed up web content including video streaming to your viewers.

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Why Your Website Could Still Be Slow Even with a CDN

While a CDN is an affordable way to speed up applications, the way you configure your network and origin web server can still affect performance. Adding a CDN to your infrastructure is guaranteed to improve reliability and performance, but the amount of improvements that you receive from a CDN addition depend also on your own web application server. With any web application, you can still experience slowness should you not consider certain configurations and resources available from the origin server.

Insufficient Hardware Resources

Your origin server is the main application server where the CDN pulls data and caches it. Should your server have low resources, even a CDN can’t do enough should you have a spike in traffic. You still need a fast server with enough resources to handle traffic. Low resources such as RAM, CPU and hard drive power will reduce the efficiency of your web application. When you determine that you want to integrate a CDN into your infrastructure, you should also ensure that your main application server also has enough resources to handle the data transferred to the CDN network.

Slow Network Resources

When a CDN server pulls data from your origin server, the speed at which the content can be transferred depends on several factors including your network resources. If you have low bandwidth from shared hosting or you don’t have the network speeds to keep up with demands, you could see a slow transfer of this data.

Bandwidth is especially important when you have large files that must be transferred from your own network to data centers across the CDN network. Most ISPs have efficient bandwidth traffic for customers, but web applications hosted on a local network should have enough bandwidth installed on the local network to transfer large files quickly.

Third-Party Software Installations

Having dependencies in your applications is nothing new for developers, but any third-party additions to your web application should be tested for performance. Some dependencies could be the entire issue for a web application’s performance.  Performance issues could also be from third-party tools installed on the web server.

Before installing any dependency or third-party tool on the web server, test it in a staging environment. Performance and any interaction with production software should be tested especially with critical servers.

Cache Settings

Although a CDN edge server caches content, your web application should also be set to cache static content. Static content is any HTML, JavaScript or CSS code that does not change regularly. Because this content is static, you don’t need to do a full lookup on the server to generate a server response.

In some cases, the administrator might have conflicting cache settings where one overwrites the other and changes the cache configurations. These server response settings can be tested after deployment in both staging and production environments.

Once these settings are configured, you can re-test your application and use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights. With the right server resources and CDN configurations, your website will be fast regardless of seasonal traffic and spikes in popularity.

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Is Adding a Game CDN to Infrastructure Expensive?

Whenever you think of adding hardware to your infrastructure, the immediate assumption is that it will cost thousands of dollars upfront. The fact is that a game CDN is actually an inexpensive way to improve performance, increase availability and reliability, and better your content security. It costs much more to have your server crash due to high levels of traffic compared to the low-cost, scalable addition of a CDN.

Gaming Content Delivery

For game developers, content is always pushed to clients. Whether it’s a mobile app or a desktop gaming application, content is pushed to users during updates and expansions. It’s during this time that severe performance degradation happens. Too many users connect to the server at once, and at the very worst it could crash due to too much traffic. It’s similar to a DDoS, but the traffic is legitimate and isn’t malicious.

A CDN can completely eliminate the overhead during these deployments. Using a CDN, content is pushed to data centers that house edge servers in different geographic locations. These edge servers store updates and expansions in server cache, which is a very fast way to store data. Data stored in cache is processed by the server without the database lookups of normal requests.

When a user requests data, the request is sent to the closest edge server available. If for any reason this server is overloaded or unavailable, a CDN will send traffic to the next closest server available. It’s the difference of losing traffic and customers to a crashed server or having users connect to available resources.

Performance and Scalable Costs

Performance enhancements in the IT world usually means high costs and employee time to install the equipment. It usually means employees must spend time maintaining the new equipment. This isn’t the case with a CDN deployment. The site can be configured to use the CDN, and after its configuration no maintenance or changes are needed. Configure your servers, and that’s all it takes. The CDN takes care of the rest.

Costs don’t have to be astronomical to get started with a CDN. You can pay as you go and start with $.0125 per gigabyte at CDN.net. What’s beneficial for developers is that costs scale with your game (or any application) popularity. If your peak traffic is seasonal, your costs are lowered based on slower months. When your season is back to high traffic, then you harness a CDN’s performance benefits with scaled costs.

A crashed server can cost a large, enterprise level application to cost millions in downtime. The cost to implement a CDN is far lower compared to the catastrophic downtime that can happen when you host only one server at a specific location. You can still keep your host and any origin servers, so implementing a CDN into your infrastructure takes very little time.

Several well-known gaming communities use CDNs to create a reliable and stable platform for customers.  Without one, developers risk losing gamers to high ping times, choppy content delivery, and poor speeds. Implementing a CDN into your infrastructure is a valuable way to maintain reliability, and it’s an inexpensive part of your deployment.

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Using a CDN for Top-Notch Speed at Scalable Costs

Determining your software infrastructure is one of the most critical parts of the development process. When you’re in the development stage, resources aren’t an issue. After you deploy and publish your application, too few resources can lead to a crashed product. However, having excessive resources is an expensive part of IT. You don’t need to spend thousands upfront to have a reliable, scalable infrastructure platform for your software product. Using a CDN, your application can harness resources when it’s needed without the high costs of traditional hosting services.

Performance Benefits

The cloud has given developers and new companies the ability to scale costs as they grow. Traditionally, to host your own software you needed your own small data center in your office. You needed routers, cabling, servers, firewalls, and the IT people to manage it. It would cost new businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars to host their own application. Now, new businesses have the option of cloud hosting.

Cloud hosting gives businesses the ability to create virtual machines or pay for dedicated servers in the cloud host’s data centers. With a CDN, developers can then add performance to the service using edge servers cache. The difference between the virtual machine and the edge servers on a CDN is the amount of resources available to the servers. A virtual machine for a new business has enough resources to support users. The CDN’s servers download content from these virtual machines and cache data. Cached data served to users is much faster than forcing a server to process requests each time content is rendered.

It’s important to note that a CDN works with your cloud host. It’s an affordable addition that speeds up your application considerably. A CDN is especially beneficial for developers (such as gaming developers) that deliver content continuously, and then need users to download large files for updates.

Scaling Costs as the Application Grows in Popularity

Marketing and advertising are expensive, so every new application has  a set number of initial users. Most MVPs start with a targeted group of users that test out the product for viability on the market. If it’s determined that the product is worth a full-blown version of the software, marketing and development continues. An MVP needs different resources than a full application marketed to the masses.

You can provide fast performance at low costs based on the amount of resources that you use. The great part of cloud hosting combined with a CDN is that you pay as you go, so if you have less traffic one month or your business is seasonal, you pay less than when you have high levels of traffic due to busy months. As your application increases in popularity, your costs go up but only when revenue increases as well.

Scaling costs benefits large and small businesses and changes the affordability of IT, which was traditionally too expensive for a bootstrapped startup. Not only are CDNs affordable, but they also add reliability and speed to your application. At such a low cost, the benefits are worth the added infrastructure for your software.

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How a CDN Can Add Scalability to Your Applications

With any startup application, cost is always an issue. Developers don’t want to cut corners, but when a budget is set it’s difficult to determine the most important factors to include with the initial launch. IT infrastructure is generally expensive, so any upfront costs take a huge cut of your budget. Not every factor in IT has to break your budget. With a CDN, you can scale costs as your application popularity grows.

Easy Integration

One factor to infrastructure and development being so expensive for an initial launch is integration. You need the right equipment and the right application programming to seamlessly combine them all into a user-friendly environment. A CDN makes integration easy for everyone involved in the development process. It’s a lightweight solution that brings performance and security to an application. A CDN takes away much of the technical overhead so that developers can focus on application code.

Security

Application security is one of the most difficult things to implement for new developers. Developers don’t have the knowledge of a security expert, so they need help with protecting their assets including customer data. A CDN can protect from several attacks including DDoS activity. Traffic and application files are distributed among several different data centers. Should an attacker launch a DDoS attack against one specific data center, traffic can be rerouted to others. Another benefit is using the CDN’s DDoS detection systems. DDoS attacks are notoriously spontaneous and no warning is given before they happen. A CDN has the right infrastructure in place to alert administrators and application developers that an attack is currently in progress.

Reliability

When you host an application in one location, should that one location crash the entire application fails. This interrupts service for your users, and it can frustrate users so much that they quit using it. Reliability is a necessary component for any application. There’s no excuse for any application to fail when it’s using a CDN. A CDN can keep an application active even should your origin server crash. While you figure out technical issues on your origin hosting servers, a CDN keeps content cached on their own edge servers allowing users to still get content 24/7.

Better Performance

Traditional hosting servers aren’t able to keep up with the demands of a global market. There are many more users connected online, and a global application might have to support thousands of concurrent users. When thousands of users connect to the same origin server, performance suffers. This is especially common for gaming developers during initial launch of a new game or after an expansion release. By distributing content across several servers, developers are able to lessen the load on servers and offer a closer data center relative to the user’s location.

Cost

Because you pay as you go, costs for a CDN also scale with application popularity. You pay a low monthly cost as development happens, and you only pay increased fees as you gain more users. A CDN brings more than just IT benefits, but with pay as you go plans you have a way to keep costs low while building a user base from marketing and press.

 

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