Is Your CDN Ready for the 21st Century Internet?

You buy a nice gift, wrap it up, and pack it carefully. Then, do you hand it over to a shipping service that depends on other delivery services, and can’t tell you how your gift will get to its destination? Of course not. You want end-to-end visibility and accountability. So, how does that example apply when you are choosing a 21st century Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

Content Delivery affects your customers, and your business

The concept of the CDN is well established: move content closer to end users, offer a better user experience, save on network time and cost, and provide replication that facilitates alternate routing. But a properly designed CDN, like the AT&T Content Delivery Network, can also offer ROI benefits to your business. As you gain an understanding of how your CDN actually accomplishes all of that, would you be better off using a carrier CDN, offered by a tier-1 network provider? In many cases, the answer is yes, and here’s why.

Quality matters, especially for video. Research by Intel, in a paper titled Understanding the Impact of Video Quality on User Engagement, indicates that delays in starting a video or buffering interruptions during playback can have a significant impact on how many users choose to view the video, and how long they continue to watch. Video content delivery is becoming even more important in the mobile space, with 100 million Smartphone users and 40 million tablet users who are able to consume video and rich media content virtually anywhere, anytime. As mobile video, photo, and music app usage grows at rates exceeding 200% per year, and with the phenomenal rise of mobile-only apps like Instagram and Socialcam, your choice of a CDN can have a real impact on your business and your relationship with your customers.

Visibility and accountability are critical. For a traditional, legacy CDN, the process of moving your content through the network relies on a number of parties: carriers, peering partners, local networks, mobile networks, etc. However, a carrier CDN has fewer moving parts and greater visibility into the status of your content every step of the way. Let’s compare two common scenarios:

In the first, a legacy CDN passes your content along to a series of network providers, and the CDN loses visibility along the way (see chart below). It is also important to note that each player in this process is working to optimize costs and margins, often not focusing on the optimal delivery of your content.

Now, let’s look at the same scenario using a carrier CDN. In this example, we’ll assume the end user viewing your content on a PC, tablet, or a mobile device is one of AT&T’s 18 million broadband users, or 100 million mobile customers, or is utilizing one of our thousands of wi-fi hotspots around the globe:

Even in a case where the carrier CDN passes traffic to another carrier for one leg of the trip, that happens under Tier-1 peering agreements, with greater assurance of optimal traffic handling and accountability every step of the way.

Most traditional CDNs were designed for the Internet of the 20th century, with lots of small node servers that can require more data to be shipped more frequently. Newer CDN designs offer efficiencies in routing, storage, and caching, and can reduce the number of cache misses, particularly for your long tail content. These designs can facilitate content delivery by taking advantage of improvements to the Internet backbone over the last 15 years.

While CDNs offer a lot of benefits to speed delivery of your content to its intended audience, it is increasingly important to consider the full range of delivery criteria when choosing your CDN.  A complex infrastructure such as a CDN requires a whole range of experience and expertise from the provider, but also an efficient end-to-end supply chain that reduces the costs and headaches for you.

Do you have the CDN in place that is right for your content delivery needs?
The Networking Exchange Blog Team About NEB Team