With the growing demand for streaming video, online gaming, and download, and increasing expectations from a customer on the quality of experience (QoE) is causing an online business to rethink their content delivery strategies.
Many businesses already rely on some form of content delivery network (CDN) to power their website performance and to improve reliability. Indeed, CDNs are the invisible backbone through which businesses can deliver valuable content to their target audience. CDNs work primarily by reducing latency, thus increasing the response rate of websites.
Businesses can step up their content delivery strategy by upgrading from a single CDN to a Multi CDN framework. While single CDNs use a network of servers to deliver cached content closer to the end-user, Multi CDN uses many different access points to route traffic to the highest performing provider node.
With Multi CDN, you can manually or automatically set up your traffic to be routed according to location, capacity, cost, or availability. Before adopting a Multi CDN strategy, it is important to evaluate what multi CDN can do for your business and to identify which provider will be best to work with.
Why Multi CDN is valuable
- Global performance – Using multiple CDNs is appropriate if you are looking to expand your geographic reach to areas where your current CDN does not excel, especially with regions such as China or Russia. It is also very useful if you need granular control of your content delivery, for example making sure that latency is at its absolute lowest in every country. Not every CDN is equipped to deal with every territory – and this can be an issue if a business grows and changes focus. Adopting multiple CDNs strategies will provide users with a quality of experience, and help online business optimize delivery costs. An online business may be using a local CDN that works well in the Asia and US, but struggles to deliver content in places such as Mainland China and growing market like Vietnam and Cambodia. With different regulations and controls, some premium CDNs might also have limitations delivering content to a certain region like China.
- Reliability –Multi CDN offers more reliability and control when dealing with a global audience spread all over the Internet. By employing Multi CDN to reach different markets, it also ensures no one CDN is overwhelmed by spikes of traffic on peak hours or when running promotions. These competitive advantages have established Multi CDN architectures as a best practice in the industry. Multi CDN offers more reliability and control when dealing with a global audience spread all over the Internet. By employing Multi CDN to reach different markets, it also ensures no one CDN is overwhelmed by spikes of traffic on peak hours or when running promotions. These competitive advantages have established Multi CDN architectures as a best practice in the industry.
- Special Events –If you rely on delivering large amounts of cacheable content – streaming media, video games, or any other kind of static content or expect big spikes in demand, such as product launch or other special events, then multiple CDNs can ensure that this demand is met without issues.
4 considerations to a Multi CDN strategy
Moving to a Multi CDN can seem complex, and many businesses may understandably be hesitant to start building over a new provider; especially if everything seems to be running fine with the current single CDN provider.
However, Multi CDN strategies provide many great benefits that can greatly improve your online business performance and experience that you may or may not have considered before:
- Is my CDN able to maintain consistent performance across all region and peak time?
- Do I have control to optimize CDN delivery cost utilizing different CDNs’ geographical strength and price?
- Do I have any fallback options if there is an outage or overload with my current CDN provider?
- Am I aware of what is the real user performance/experience despite my CDN saying there is an edge node in that region?
Is Multi CDN right for me?
As useful as Multi CDN is, businesses need to evaluate, assess and determine if it is worth implementing. Indeed, it is only through the proper implementation that users can enjoy the widespread benefits of Multi CDN; such as high performance, increased capacity, and even better security.
When evaluating if a Multi CDN strategy works for you, you should keep in mind the following key points:
- The type of configuration in use – For many years, businesses have used multiple CDNs in an active-inactive configuration. This means that they would dedicate one CDN for regular use, and the other for disaster recovery. This configuration is prone to downtime when switching from one CDN to another, and can result in performance inconsistency during the switching process.
It makes more sense to seek out an active-active CDN configuration. In this way, both CDNs are receiving traffic, and users can enjoy an uninterrupted seamless experience regardless of one CDN experiencing issues.
- Traffic management using the right algorithms – When evaluating a Multi CDN, you need to have the right algorithm in place for directing traffic to each server. Of the 3 popular algorithms used (round-robin, geo-based, and performance-based), the nature of your operations will determine the best way to manage your traffic. For example, if you have operations across multiple areas of the world, the Geo-based approach may work best for you. You can direct more traffic to areas that have more CDN capacity than others.
The performance-based approach may work better for companies that are focused on optimizing performance at all times. An on-going algorithm can keep close track of performance variations and route traffic accordingly. If a business relies on service delivery such as real-time social media feeds or video streaming, a Multi CDN strategy can significantly improve performance.
- Proper measurement of performance – The only way through which a Multi CDN strategy can truly bear fruit is by having frequent performance monitoring from multiple points. As you evaluate a multi CDN, you should check to ensure that both the origin and the end user experience are frequently monitored. Indeed, measurements should be taken from multiple data centers and ISPs in order to determine any dips in performance. In addition, the end user experience also requires the same level of monitoring to ensure that undetectable issues (such as an ISP having performance challenges that affect a specific CDN within that area) are picked up before they affect your traffic.
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