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Community Blog Speed, reliability and a global presence: how to choose the right CDN

Speed, reliability and a global presence: how to choose the right CDN

A fully featured, multinational CDN can minimize latency and disruption to content delivery

Delivering content quickly, efficiently and reliably to users in a range of locations and geographies is critical for many organizations and individuals today. However, the scale and complexity of many of the scenarios involved can present a range of challenges – and failure to overcome these may cause reputational and financial damage to the service provider charged with delivery and the client involved.

Sample scenarios that illustrate the content delivery requirements modern businesses have include:

  • a travel services website that connects travellers with homeowners who have vacant rooms to rent and provides millions of lodging options needs to store a large number of images for users to download onto a range of devices running a range of apps. Furthermore, because accommodation bookings generate a high volume of online transactions, the business requires fast and stable dynamic acceleration services. The ability to download and deliver real-time logs are required to help the website operator evaluate its service quality and improve the user experience.
  • a game tool developer, providing an engine that creates high-quality 3D interactive content, needs coverage for its business in greater China to ensure a smooth experience for its users while processing high traffic volumes, and needs fast and stable download services to meet the needs of developers in China. The business also requires multi-scenario and multicomponent coordination for different business scenarios, such as gaming, enterprise support and education services.
  • a leading manufacturer of electronic devices in China, with mobile phones used in 220-plus countries and regions and support 75 languages, with mobile app marketplaces launched in many countries, needs global acceleration with localized coverage for its major overseas markets such as South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe, as well as a multi-level caching architecture to optimize the back-to-origin bandwidth and reduce workloads on its origin server. The manufacturer requires security protection by performing custom authentication on download URLs to reduce invalid access requests, and, to control costs, to limit the speed of single links.
  • a short video app provider in China, with 700 million-plus users worldwide including over 100 million active users uploading over five million short videos every day, requires smooth upload and playback of videos worldwide to ensure a high-quality user experience. The organization needs to ensure the security and compliance of video content ¬- however, a human review process leads to low accuracy or detection rates, increasing operating costs and compromising business growth. Furthermore, the client hopes to introduce Al to improve its operational efficiency.

What Features and Capabilities Have CDNs Added?

A robust, reliable and full-featured content delivery network (CDN) can help organizations and individuals with a comprehensive list of requirements. These networks were born less than 30 years ago when the internet was still gaining momentum, and the chokepoints that compromised the timely delivery of text, images and video to users worldwide threatened to stall progress. The technology sector responded to this challenge by creating CDNs to improve the speed of delivery of web content, with a popular model being to cache images in hub locations close to users to expedite delivery.

As the richness, diversity and quality – not to mention size - of internet content matured, so did the features and functionality of CDNs, and Gartner now defines global CDNs as ‘highly distributed, edge-based cloud delivery platforms that provide the following functionality: content acceleration, API caching, image optimization, streaming video delivery, web application and perimeter security and edge computing and storage’. According to analysis cited by professional services firm Deloitte, CDNs will carry 72% of all internet traffic by 2022, up from 56% in 2017. Streaming video on demand (SVOD) in particular is fuelling this traffic growth, and the Asia-Pacific is expected to account for 51% of all video streaming traffic by 2024, almost twice as much as in 2018.

Addressing Industry Scenarios

CDNs – combined with cloud services and the with the assistance of a cloud provider’s expertise – are enabling organizations and individuals to address a range of critical scenarios. For example, the travel website can take advantage of flexible CDN service configurations, including advanced script-based configurations and caching policies to adapt to diverse usage scenarios and IP acceleration that supports smart routing for stable and fast back-to-origin requests and real-time online transactions. Complementary cloud services can provide log downloading and monitoring and alerting.

The game tool developer can provide high quality content acceleration services for Chinese users with cache hit rates as high as 95% with a cloud-based CDN enabling it to deliver seamless gaming, enterprise support and education services.

The manufacturer of electronic devices can use CDN capabilities to access global acceleration using high-performance nodes, improving download performance and meeting data localization requirements, while multi-level caching and consistent hashing keep back-to-origin bandwidth below 0.5%, reducing the workloads on the origin server. A dedicated script tool enables the business to customize authentication configurations, preventing invalid access requests and limit single-link download speeds to control costs.

Finally, the short app video provider can take advantage of thousands of nodes worldwide, high bandwidth and intelligent scheduling to distribute huge numbers of videos daily and enable global business development. Complementary cloud-based machine-assisted moderation supports AI review with high precision snapshots captured in milliseconds, improving accuracy and detection rates, reducing false or missed detection and achieving an average re-check rate of less than 10%. With more than 90% of the human review workload saved, operating costs are greatly reduced.

Turning to Alibaba Cloud CDN

All of these businesses turned to Alibaba Cloud and Alibaba Cloud CDN – a virtual network comprising globally distributed edge nodes that reduces loads on origin servers to prevent network congestion - to meet their requirements. Alibaba Cloud CDN provides more than 2,800 nodes, more than 2,300 of which are distributed across 31 provincial regions in mainland China and over 500 across 70+ countries and regions worldwide. Total bandwidth capacity of Alibaba Cloud CDN can reach up to 150 Tbit/s.

Alibaba Cloud CDN starts out of the box with one click and takes effect in around one minute, giving organizations near-immediate access to lower management costs and the performance and features of a world-class CDN.

The product’s ability to serve content to distributed user cohorts at scale is proven through support for over a decade for the Double 11 Global Shopping Festival, as well as livestreaming of landmark events such as the Russia World Cup in 2018.

The experience gained through these events enabled Alibaba Cloud to improve the features and functionality of Alibaba Cloud CDN to provide benefits to users such as:

  • Widely distributed nodes – By redirecting requests to the nearest nodes that belong to the same ISP as used by the client, Alibaba Cloud CDN accelerates long-distance content delivery and reduces network latency for cross-ISP content delivery
  • Scalable resources – The 2,800 edge nodes distributed worldwide ensure resource scalability and service availability
  • Accurate scheduling – By monitoring the health of edge nodes in real-time and redirecting requests to optimal nodes selected by a scheduling system based on client locations and ISP, Alibaba Cloud CDN improves acceleration performance
  • Intelligent connections – Optimization strategies spanning protocols and connections reduce network latency and accelerate content delivery
  • Efficient caching – Because requests can hit cache on the nearest nodes, Alibaba Cloud CDN accelerates content delivery
  • Lower IT expenses – Edge nodes provide computing, bandwidth and connection resources to reduce IT expenses
  • High bandwidth capacity
  • Standardized API: The Alibaba Cloud CDN API is easy to use and supports a range of operations.

Alibaba Cloud CDN has also received a range of certifications, including:

  • grading at Level 3 by the Ministry of Public Security based on the multi-level protection scheme.
  • certification to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
  • recognition as a global-scale CDN service provider by Gartner.
  • acknowledgement as the first IPv6 Enabled CDN Logo certified CDN service in the world.

With a full-featured CDN, businesses and individuals can provide a high quality experience to users worldwide, extending their brands and product and service offerings into new markets with dynamic content delivered quickly, reliably and cost-effectively.

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Iain Ferguson

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