Why Your Website Needs A CDN

Before we talk about a content delivery network (CDN), let’s talk about your company’s website. Maybe it’s for marketing, maybe it’s for ecommerce, maybe it’s for sharing cat GIFs. But in 2016, no matter what your company does, it definitely involves a website in some way, shape or form. In fact, visiting your company website is almost certainly one of the first interactions that new customers will have with you. If they find you through an ad, that ad will direct them to your website. If they are responding to an email, they will be clicking on a link to your website. If they speak to one of your salespeople on the phone, they will probably visit your website right after – or even during – the call. If they find you via Google, the link they find will be to your website. Etc., etc., etc.

The point is: no matter what business you’re in, your website plays an important role in the experience your customers have with your company. If your ecommerce operation is slow, it will affect conversions. If your marketing pages are down, it will cause customers to question your technical competence or just abandon the site altogether. If your “help” videos don’t load quickly, people won’t stick around to use your product.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some hard data. Way back in 2010, Akamai found that 57% of online shoppers would wait no longer than 3 seconds for a page to load before abandoning the site. They also found that younger users were even less patient: 65% would abandon sites after 2 seconds. Have users gotten more patient since 2010? Ha! In a more recent survey, half of smartphone users said they expected mobile web pages to load in 2 seconds or less.

What about other kinds of content besides general web pages? Are users more patient if the payoff is a rich media experience? Well, researchers found that when it comes to online video, users will start abandoning a site after waiting 2 seconds for a video to load – and another 5.8% will drop off with every additional second it takes. Oh, users are also less likely to return to the site after having a video failure.

The harsh reality is that no matter what kind of business you are in or what kind of content you are delivering online, visitors will simply not excuse poor website performance.

But don’t worry, CDNs are here to help.

What is a CDN? In short, a CDN is a global network of servers that hold cached copies of your content in multiple locations. These are commonly called “edge” servers, because they represent the edge of the network (creative, I know) with your own server(s) sitting at the center. When a user requests content from your website, the CDN delivers as much of it as possible from edge servers that are physically close to the user. This minimizes the load on your server(s), and reduces the time it takes for the requested information to travel to your users.

Content Delivery Network

Instead of responding directly to user requests in real-time, your server(s) push updates out to the edge servers, which in turn handle all of the real-time user requests. It’s a win-win for you and your users: they get faster load times, you get to minimize your own IT investment. And by leveraging a massive CDN infrastructure, you get some great bonus features: DDoS mitigation, network load-balancing, scalability, and greater uptime. Plus, it will help your SEO efforts: since 2010, Google has used site speed as a factor in web search ranking.

A content network delivery service can accelerate all types of content: static, dynamic, mobile, ecommerce, video, audio, games – virtually anything that you might want to deliver to your users. Major CDN customers today include online retailnew mediaold mediaSaaS solutions – virtually anything that touches the internet. So no matter what kind of business you’re in, a CDN can help you.

So now that you know a little bit more about CDN and how it could be useful for your business, you might want to know what you should do next. Fortunately we are here to assist! If you’re ready to find a CDN provider, or to compare your existing CDN provider to its competitors, Vendorful allows you to request proposals from more than 30 CDN vendors. If you want to learn more about the CDN space, might I suggest our free CDN mini-guide? It contains much more information than can fit in this blog post. And if a mini-guide is too much of a commitment, check out our two-page CDN cheat sheet.

Just to be 100% clear, we have no affiliation whatsoever with any CDN provider. Our only goal is to make sure that you find the best vendors for your needs, in CDN or any other area that touches your business. So, feel free to contact us if you think we can help you in some other area of need – we are at your service!

Cloud

Kiss My aaS

Acronyms were so much easier in the late 20th century. When it came to “cloud stuff,” all anyone talked about were ASPs, or Application Service Providers. This caused some confusion because asp was also the extension that web sites running on the Microsoft stack used. Asp was (and is) the name used to refer to several species of venomous snakes, which while cool, probably didn’t add to any confusion. Then, as if bitten by an asp, the ASP acronym began to die. It was ultimately replaced by the term SaaS, or Software as a Service. It’s unclear whether the mixed case approach to the acronym that was the draw or if it was just plain convenient to have “as a Service” on the tail end of the expression, but SaaS took off and was ultimately responsible for the creation of a variety of derivative acronyms.

We’ll cover a variety of these acronyms, but place particular emphasis on the three that are most commonly used.

The Usual Suspects

SaaS (Software as a Service) is an application that is completely outsourced, i.e. the organization that is using it doesn’t own or deploy any hardware or software. Organizations that sign on to SaaS offerings simply consume the software, which is delivered as a service via the Internet. Inside a business, the end user is typically a business person.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) moves the responsibility for developing and managing both the application and its associated data from the cloud to the organization that is using it. Companies that want to offer SaaS products to customers may well use a PaaS offering to outsource the management of the physical servers, operating systems, network, etc. Web and application developers are the typical end users.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) involves outsourcing the hardware resources (typically servers and network) while the software stack — from the operating system on up — is managed by the subscribing organization. IaaS is popular among organizations who want to exercise more control over the delivery of their product/service than they can get from PaaS. The IT department is typically the user here and they set up the IaaS to offer something closer to PaaS to their colleagues who are developers.

Those descriptions resulted in 191 words being written. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the following image will be a bit more than 5.236 times as informative as what you just read.

Friends of the Usual Suspects

Since some companies operate under the misapprehension that adding “as a Service” to any product offering they have, there are a litany of other “as a Service” acronyms that have sprung to life. Rather than tackling each of them, we’ll provide a few more that you might come across with some frequency.

DBaaS (Database as a Service) is a cloud-based service wherein the service provider hosts and manages the data for the customer. Although SQL-based databases are most frequently offered as part of DBaaS offerings, there are providers of noSQL databases in the cloud as well. While the structure of the database (the data model) is left to the discretion of the application developers maintenance of the database, e.g. managing uptime, replication, failover, etc., falls under the purview of the service provider.

IDaaS (Identity as a Service) is an identity management and authentication infrastructure managed by a third-party service provider (an MSP or Managed Service Provider) that delivers its capabilities via a cloud service. IDaaS offerings include SSO (Single Sign On) administration, user management, and more.

While not exhaustive — new aaS acronyms seem to be created daily — the aforementioned services hopefully provide a solid foundation for you as get better acquainted with the growing array of cloud services. The underlying principle of leveraging services is the common thread that binds them. Delivery of these services from MSPs allows organizations to both get started and scale with unprecedented ease and with minimal to no CapEx. They have, and continue to, fundamentally change the way the connected world operates.