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How to Cherry-pick a Content Delivery Network Consistent With Today's Internet & Also for the Future Whether it's your website, mobile apps, videos, music, software or games, your content needs to reach customers quickly, reliably, and securely. This quick delivery, reliability, and security is provided by CDNs

By Ashwin Rao

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The internet is changing. A report titled "The State of Digital Lifestyles 2018' pointed out that 88 percent of people are frustrated if there is a delay in content delivery. The primary reason behind their frustration ranged from rebuffering to slow downloading. This displeasure was experienced the most by Indian and Singaporean audiences, with 92.2 percent of them reporting it in the research.

It is obvious that such cases of displeasure will increase as more people use digital technology and their expectations for a high performance increase. However, even if you have reserved more than adequate traditional server space for your website, there could be different factors that might be affecting the performance of your digital content. Factors such as the end user's mobile network, device, supported formats, and others that might not even be directly related to your website – something that only a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can resolve. This is precisely why the industry can be seen moving towards CDNs for a superlative content delivery to their end-users. So, let us have a look at how you can make your content delivery consistent with today's internet, and also that of the near future.

The Role of Content Delivery Networks

Whether it's your website, mobile applications, videos, music, software or games, your content needs to reach customers quickly, reliably, and securely. This quick delivery, reliability, and security is provided by CDNs, which can leverage specialized infrastructure comprising global fibre cable network. For the ones that do, this specialized infrastructure is a private internet which avoids network congestion experienced on the public internet. They are also able to identify multiple parameters to improve the end-user experience including identifying individual devices, firmware, application, supported content format, and local network conditions. After factoring them in, CDNs extend the most optimal content format via the closest data server (to prevent transmission-related data latency) – thereby extending a smooth and superior experience to the end-user. But how can you choose a CDN that best meets your needs, including both current and future ones?

Everything begins with first understanding your content requirements in the short-term and long-term. Make this analysis as detailed as you can by factoring in your content formats, their average sizes, volume, target geographies, future rollouts, capital availability, etc. The greater details you add, the more you will be able to visualize everything and opt for a service that is both effective and efficient. Also, establish a benchmark for both cost and quality. It is also better to conduct thorough market research and how the market is changing with the introduction of newer approaches and technologies.

Cherry-picking a CDN that meets all of your needs

  1. Target Geographies: Where your serve your files (consumable content and otherwise) are placed plays a considerable role in the loading speed. The closer your server is to your target geographies, the faster you can deliver content to customers. Look for a CDN that has Points of Presence (PoPs) near your target geographies. Moreover, look for higher egress capacity since it specifies the load your CDN can tolerate in events of large traffic spikes.

  2. Cache Efficiency: Caches store the constantly-required data locally on a device and hence, prevent its constant back and forth. This enables you to deliver more quality data until the connection exists and increase the browsing speed of a user. A Cache Hit Efficiency of 90% is considered good. However, some industry players are able to deliver a Cache Hit Efficiency of 98%. Consider them if the user experience is indispensable to you.

  3. Live Content: Live content experiences multi-second delays (often extending to minutes) in global broadcasts. If this is undesirable to you, look for real-time delivery of live content. Certain CDN innovations have now enabled global delivery of live content with sub-second delivery.

  4. Cybersecurity: There is a constant influx of new cyber threats that every digital business faces online. One of the most prominent categories of them is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. You can easily shield yourself from such attacks by looking for DDoS security, Web Application Firewall (WAF), TLS/SSL encryption, bot management, and other similar features in a CDN platform.

  5. Technical Support: CDNs, given the technology-dependent nature of their operation, mandate support staff that is available round the clock. This will ensure that all of your tickets are timely addressed, so that you are not on the receiving end service downtime. Double check that all turnaround times are specifically mentioned in your Service-level Agreement (SLA).

  6. Future Needs: Since you are driving a digital business, you must always be prepared for the future needs of your customers, especially considering the dynamism of the digital world. For instance, the world is currently bracing up for 5G technology which is expected to transform the market completely. 5G will give rise to several changes including Logistics 4.0, Industry 4.0, faster internet speed, edge computing, etc. Be prepared for all such market changes and incorporate relevant ones in your CDN strategy

CDNs: The proverbial heart of your content strategy

Our content helps us to keep our audience hooked onto their screens. This is what makes us develop a customer-centric content strategy while addressing all of our consumer touchpoints. Still, our developed content completely loses its essence if the delivery is not perfect. So, we can technically call CDNs – as they help us in pumping content to all of our end-users without any glitches – the heart of our content strategy.

Ashwin Rao

Director, Limelight Networks, India

Ashwin Rao is a Director at Limelight Networks and leads the company's sales organization in India.  He is a sales leader with more than 15 years of experience in helping companies find the right technology to solve their specific business challenges in areas such as digital media, cyber security, cloud platforms, AI, SaaS, DB and more. Prior to joining Limelight, 

Ashwin held key sales roles at Unbxd Inc., Akamai Technologies, Oracle and more.  He holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree from Visvesvaraya Technological University and resides in Delhi.


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