A Content Delivery Network is a highly distributed server platform that provides optimized content for web applications and media streaming.

The definition is by Alessandro Livrea, Country Manager of Akamai Italia, who explains to us how a CDN works.

A Content Delivery Network, CDN, is essential for users of the Network to enjoy a smooth and optimal digital experience.

If a CDN is doing its job, Akamai points out, consumers do not even notice its work.

But why is a Content Delivery Network so important? And when does it become essential? Alessandro Livrea explains this to us, from a privileged point of observation. Akamai supports digital experiences of some of the largest companies worldwide.

From analogue to digital

The Internet, with its advent, has revolutionized the way to distribute and enjoy digital content in multiple sectors. Livrea gives an example of video games.

The launch of a new recall video game, brought big queues to the entrance of the shops. Now, at the time of launch a game is available for download from the Internet for all users, wherever they are.

However, if the platform is not properly optimized, the same problems can also occur in the digital domain. Too much traffic on the server brings bottle packages, delays and an unsatisfactory digital experience.

A large number of components come into play, to be checked carefully. The capacity of servers, routes and types of connections and more. Therefore, companies should carefully plan online launches and ensure the right infrastructure.

How to have a Content Delivery Network up to date

Companies, explains Alessandro Livrea, must make sure they have a global platform available distributed across multiple locations. This way, the traffic load can be intelligently distributed, ensuring that no server is overloaded.

They then need a system that can remove bottle packages and ensure the transfer of payments. For this reason, any brand that is considering an online launch would benefit from having a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Whatever the type of launch: a new website, a streaming series, a promotion on an ecommerce site or something else.

As we said at the outset, a CDN is a highly distributed server platform that provides optimized content for web applications and media streaming. This server network is distributed in different locations to respond quickly and securely to consumer content requests. It acts as a gateway between a content server, also known as the origin, and those who access the content.

Avoid bottle necks in a Content Delivery Network

Without CDN, the content source server must respond to each individual end-user request, regardless of the quantity. This means that it is subjected to significant pressure due to peak traffic and thus increasing the possibility of overload. This dramatically increases the risk that the server will fail or that performance will be inconsistent and will suffer.

In response to requests in the content server and being closer physically to the user in terms of network, a CDN lightens the traffic from the content servers. And it improves the overall web experience for all stakeholders by offering continuous and seamless service. This, again highlights Livrea, will reduce complaints from users or viewers, making both them and content providers more satisfied.

CDNs are known mainly for the delivery of websites and their content, but it is not their only use. They are able to provide different types of content, including high quality videos, including 4K and HD. As well as audio streaming, software downloads such as applications, games and OS updates, images, AR/VR experiences. And more: records of data that contain medical and financial information and much more. Basically, all data that can be digitized can be provided through a CDN.

An experience of ‘zero friction’

The idea behind a Content Delivery Network is that the end user has an experience with… zero friction. If everything works properly, nobody really realizes it’s there. I mean, if it stays invisible, then CDN is doing its job well.

Some of the largest companies in the world use a Content Delivery Network. But, even if it is very important, they do not create it themselves, because it is a very specialized technology. The software layer of a CDN is extremely important and critical.

The Internet was not designed for data streaming. Therefore, a CDN must have the ability to redirect information and make smart decisions about where to send it. We need to determine how many points of presence CDN needs and where it needs to be. If there are too few, it is likely to overload the system, while if there are too many it takes too long to transfer the data.

Meeting user expectations

The development of technology has enabled companies to offer engaging and innovative services, and so consumers’ expectations have skyrocketed. The impossible became normal and the possible became necessary. Businesses have no choice but to offer a perfect experience at all times, otherwise consumers will go elsewhere.

The brands, concludes Alessandro Livrea, must commit to providing almost perfect performance without any hitch. Otherwise their reputation may suffer and consumers may go elsewhere.

For anyone planning a big launch, or expecting a large amount of traffic, having the right infrastructure is definitely a valuable help to avoid solving frequent problems.

More information about Akamai is available on the company’s website at this address.

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