Data Center

What is a CDN and how does it work?

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CDN stands for “content delivery network.”

Traditionally, web sites are served from a server(s) in a single data center. Since many of the worlds websites are hosted in the United States, speed has never really been a concern for those in North America.

However, for those on other continents, retrieving content – especially media – from thousands of miles away could make for a painfully slow and unreliable experience. It becomes most obvious to the server when they are trying to stream a video. Not only will it typically take longer to start, buffering becomes a major problem. The problem is exasperated when they are trying to stream a high definition video or download a large file.

With a CDN, there is still that first data center, which hosts what is known as the origin server(s). These are the servers that the webmaster uploads the site and content to.

In addition to the origin server, there are what are called edge servers that are strategically placed around the world in various data centers. A good CDN will have coverage on every continent and sometimes coverage through multiple data centers in particularly populated areas, such as Europe and Asia.

Through geolocation, the surfer connects to the data center and servers closest to them. The edge servers are essentially duplicated origin servers. Because of his, rather than a surfer in Asia having to hop across the Pacific Ocean to get content, they are routed to a server(s) located in a data center in Asia. This makes for a much faster experience for them, similar to what people in North America – where most websites are hosted from – enjoy.

The origin and edge servers are not constantly talking to each other and syncing as that would be a waste of resources. Instead, files are only sent one when they are uploaded. If a change is made to a file, the webmaster must invalidate the existing link, which will tell the edge server that it needs to call home to the origin server to grab the latest file(s).

While gaining in popularity, CDN is currently mostly used by larger companies. With Stunner Media being a forward thinking company, a CDN is already deployed across our entire network. This means faster download times, less frustration worldwide, better sales, and even better retention.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you would like to know more about our worldwide hosting footprint.

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On July 19, 2013
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