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How do I Maximize the Benefits of a Content Delivery Network?
Taking Your CDN Investment to the Next Level
Welcome to the CDN Learning Center. Check out the video below featuring one of Akamai’s many Internet experts for great insight in the world of CDN.
How Do I Maximize the Benefits of a CDN?
If you don’t know much about Content Delivery Networks, or CDNs, then this Learning Center is the place to start. If you already know the basics, then feel free to check out the other links on this page to find another topic. Keep checking back as we continue to add new content every month.
If you’re delivering content across the globe to a host of different device types, your business is likely already using a CDN. If that’s the case, how do you get the most out of your CDN investment?
The best CDNs offer rich, granular functionality from which almost any online business can derive significant benefits. However, there are few, if any, schools that teach about CDNs and how to use them. The art of performance engineering is something that is generally learned after entering the professional world; and the world’s biggest websites have teams of performance engineers dedicated to making their online experiences run fast and smoothly. Performance can be a deep and complicated topic. CDN providers do everything they can to improve performance and make it easy on you to get the most out of your investment. The best CDNs offer two key elements for their customers to get the most out of their purchase: robust self-service tools, and world-class expertise.
Robust Self-Service Tools
The best CDNs make your business more agile, and seamlessly fit into a DevOps workflow. To compete online your company needs a CDN for performance, availability and intelligence; but these enhancements are nothing if you cannot bring them to bear as quickly as business challenges arise. To truly get the most out of a CDN, customers should expect granular self-service control over its many sophisticated capabilities to optimize for their network optimization needs.
Some of these self-support capabilities include:
Advanced cache control with the ability to conditionally (e.g. if no login cookie then cache home page) and dynamically (e.g. partition the cache based on productID query string) cache content
Fast purge capabilities that can rapidly expunge content across a distributed network
Flexible and simple configuration of capabilities that offer granular control over advanced CDN capabilities such as header and cookie handling, performance optimizations, failover behavior, access control, and edge logic
Fast configuration deployment that enables cache control and content handling rules to be safely and quickly updated across your network
Full featured APIs and reporting to allow your organization to further streamline its development process and make the changes you need, when you need them
While most CDNs offer one or two of these features, by accessing and using these and more in harmony your business can flourish in a world of rapid change and innovation. To get the most out of your investment, building the internal expertise to manipulate self-service tools appropriately will let you react immediately to your day-to-day business challenges.
World Class Expertise
Very few companies can do it all on their own. Hiring 24/7 staff with the right skillset and expertise to maintain robust site performance and security is costly and time consuming, and many companies simply do not have the resources to do so. However, by partnering with the right CDN provider, organizations can continue focusing on their core business competencies while leveraging the CDN’s expert resources to optimize their web applications and online events. And even companies that do have the resources to staff their own expert teams will turn to the right CDN provider for help with their biggest challenges. The tighter a company partners with their CDN, the more value they can derive. Leading CDN providers offer:
Teams with deep experience who have helped to deliver the Internet’s biggest events and mitigate its largest attacks
Options for dedicated support with response SLAs
Core expertise in several key areas including managed delivery services, managed broadcast services, managed security services and website consulting services
Striking a Balance Between Self-Service and Professional Services
To truly maximize the benefits of a CDN investment, CDN customers must strike a balance between knowing what is most effectively handled internally, and when to appropriately spend on professional services. A team of world class experts can guide you through those decisions, and help get the most out of your CDN investment.
For customers without in-house CDN experts just turning on a CDN will give some benefit; however, working with a CDN’s team of experts can result in significant gains. As an example, a medium sized e-commerce company purchases a CDN and turns it on. It immediately provides 50% offload and a significant performance bump to their site. By utilizing the CDN’s self-service tool set they are able to improve performance and achieve 75% offload. In the face of a major upcoming online sale, the company goes to its CDN partner to ask for help. The CDN provider deploys a team of Internet Experts to help, and together they are able to raise offload to 95%, relieving pressure on the customer’s origin and showing top performance during the peak traffic of its sales event. Between the self-service tools and expertise, this customer was able to make a significant return on investment.
To maximize the benefits of your CDN investment, make sure to look for CDNs with a robust suite of self-service tools (ex. network security tools, application performance monitoring and management tools, live streaming tools) in addition to a team of world class experts to help you with your toughest online challenges. We hope you enjoyed this article. For more detailed information on choosing the right CDN, download our whitepaper: Choosing the Right CDN for Today and Tomorrow. For other questions about CDN, please visit our other links, and check back for new content monthly.