The digital universe of content is growing tremendously and it is multiplying in a few years. Consumers expect fast and secure data access on any device from any part of the world. Content providers need to find the solution to the challenges of delivering streaming and optimized content to computers, smartphones, and tablets. Some of the common challenges, in this case, are higher capability, higher scalability, higher quality of service, and security. To tackle those issues, two popular tools are content delivery networks (CDN) and cloud computing.
What do they mean? How do they work? and when they will be suitable for your needs? This article aims to discuss the contrast between CDN and cloud computing.
What Is CDN?
A CDN is a distributed network of file storage devices and servers. This network can replicate content or services like files, audio, video, etc. on a large number of surrogate systems located at various geographical locations across the globe. CDNs are extremely flexible and they improve the scalability and quality of the services offered on the web by reducing the latency of delivering content to their clients. The CDNs do so by maximizing the bandwidth for accessing the data from clients throughout the network by strategically placing content replica(s) at geographically distributed locations.
In the dynamic internet landscape of the present world, it is more important than ever for content providers to understand the demands and requirements of the users. For example, consider a video streaming service, such as YouTube, or Netflix. During the delivery of video content to subscribers located across various continents, the video experience can vary depending on the delivery path to the end-user. CDN solves this issue.
How Does CDN Work?
Depending upon the content type and application, the CDNs can vary. However, most CDNs comprise an origin server, a request redirecting mechanism, and a large number of surrogate cache servers namely Point of Presence (POP).
The origin server is a powerful storage system that contains all the content. To obtain the best performance of CDN, the content in the origin server is pushed to surrogate servers located at various geographical locations across the globe.
These servers are located in large numbers in diverse areas in a CDN. The POP server offers the content to the end-user on request. If the content is not available locally, the POP server will pull it from the origin server and store that for the next probable requirement.
Request Redirecting Mechanism:
One of the main functions of CDN is to redirect clients to the most optimal servers based on Quality of Service (QoS) parameters like server load, network congestion, latency, client access networks, etc. A variety of methods like Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB), DNS-based request-routing, HTTP Redirection, and URL Rewriting are used to implement this mechanism.
Advantages Of CDN
Online business enterprises like gaming companies, e-commerce websites, cloud application developers, and live streaming media services use content delivery networks to offer better service to their users. Some benefits of CDN are:
More Scalability & Connectivity:
CDN promises a greater user experience through faster load times. At the same time, CDN also offers web publishers higher page views, lower site abandonment, increased traffic, and overall stronger customer engagement.
Less Bandwidth Consumption:
Online business owners are charged for any data they transfer from origin servers. CDN stores web content copies in a closer geographical location from its end users, it ensures less data transfer from origin servers. The overall cost of enterprises reduces a lot.
The system transfers the content at the request of end-users. Latency can be caused due to the distance between servers and end-users. As CDN delivers content from the nearby located server, many latency issues are solved.
Efficient Traffic Spike Management:
Viral videos or successful marketing campaigns, and limited-time offers can trigger a sharp and unexpected rise in demand for content. CDN prevents server crashes in these cases by balancing load across web servers in multiple geographical locations.
What Is Cloud Service?
Cloud service or cloud computing is assembled of large networks of virtualized information communication technology services like hardware resources (CPU, network, and storage), software resources – databases, application servers, and web servers. The use of virtualization has transformed the traditional data center into a flexible cloud service infrastructure.
Virtualization methods like hypervisor technology and the introduction of virtual machines have enabled cloud service providers to add reliability to hosted websites or applications to share resources with the end-users faster. The data centers can provide flexible online application service hosting like web hosting, search, emails, and gaming in a more efficient manner at reduced costs with help of cloud service.
Cloud service is also referred to as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Cloud services are hosted in large data centers or data farms, operated by hosting companies. Some essential characteristics of cloud computing are:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity
- Measured service
Cloud service computing enables the developers to marshal virtually infinite computing and storage options to process and store. Cloud-based resources can be used under pay-per-use models and when needed, instead of investing in more resources.
How Does Cloud Service Work?
From a functionality standpoint, cloud computing services can be of three types:
This system offers a proprietary cloud environment dedicated to a single business entity. It is connected with physical components stored on-premises or at a service provider’s data center. This model offers the users a high degree of control as it is only accessible to a single business. It ensures advanced security protocols, customized architecture, and the freedom to extend computing resources in a virtualized environment when needed.
In this model, the internet is used to store and manage access to data and applications. The public cloud is a fully virtualized model, where shared resources can be used when needed. As all the resources are delivered over the web, this model allows organizations to scale easily.
As the name suggests, this is a hybrid or combination of private and public cloud models. Here, organizations get a chance to access the benefits of shared resources while using their existing IT infrastructure. They are also allowed to store sensitive customer data internally and access it through applications running in the public cloud.
Benefits Of Cloud Services
Cloud services are gaining popularity at a rapid pace for numerous benefits. This model is more cost-effective than on-site server installations and can also provide faster and better service.
Except for the above reasons, business houses using cloud services have more options to scale. The cloud can serve the organizations during their fluctuating needs and real-time changes. This model has been proven as more reliable, offering successful data backup during disaster recovery. Businesses using cloud services don’t need to maintain costly hardware resources, thanks to virtualization.
CDN & Cloud Service: Similarities & Differences
CDNs and cloud services are very similar as in both cases content is served from geographically distributed servers. However, they have a very basic difference; CDN delivers content to the end-users as early as possible, on the contrary, cloud services depend on their scalability, flexibility, and on-demand delivery of applications and data.
CDN & Cloud Service Together
The above discussion makes two things clear. CDN offers a platform to deliver a large chunk of content closer to the end-user, and cloud service allows easy scaling resources for applications. Can both these platforms be used in a combined model? Using CDN with cloud computing strategies provides a cheaper means of hosting and deploying multi-tiered applications which can scale on the user demands. Migrating from traditional server or client-based CDNs to a cloud computing model is a major transformation that introduces great opportunities and challenges. Some of the major advantages of the cloud content delivery network (CCDN) model are:
- Pay-as-you-go: More cost-effective than owning the physical infrastructure which is necessary for the users to be a part of CDN.
- Increased Point Of Presence: The content is moved closer to users than the traditional CDN system for the presence of cloud service.
- CCDN Interoperability: The interoperability of CDNs through the cloud will allow content providers to reach new markets and regions.
- Support For Applications: The cloud service can support dynamic change facilitating the CDNs to support different kinds of applications that have unpredictable and predictable bursting traffic.
This article identifies the benefits and challenges of CDN and cloud services. To leverage the benefits of both of them, cloud-based CDNs have gained significant importance. The integration of CDN and cloud services has mutual benefits which allow the content to be distributed to the end-user efficiently and effectively.