Disclosure: This post was sponsored by SAP, but the actual contents and opinions are the sole views of MakeUseOf.com.
CDNs make the Internet fast and websites affordable even when you scale to millions of users. Firstly, bandwidth costs money; those of us on limited contracts know that all too well. Not only do you as an Internet ‘consumer’ need to pay for your bandwidth, but the websites you visit also have to pay for their bandwidth.
More importantly though, a slow website will cost you dearly. Studies show that 40% of consumers abandon an online shopping site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
What Is a CDN?
A CDN, or Content Delivery Network is a series of high performance file servers situated around the world that are tweaked for optimal delivery of high bandwidth static resources. They solve three problems for modern websites – speed, bandwidth costs, and storage concerns.
These static resources have become a significant bottleneck in site performance. Website servers simply aren’t optimized to send large amounts of data to hundreds of users situated halfway across the globe, so it’s at this point that a CDN can save the day. CDN’s achieve a higher speed by being dedicated to the task of pushing out masses of data at extreme speeds – they don’t host websites, they just host the large files needed for the site; they don’t have a database, and they don’t need to dynamically generate coded pages – they just push out data. And they’re extremely good at it.
Partly this is due to hardware optimizations and higher speed datapipes, but they also gain a speed advantage by being physically closer to the user’s location, sometimes even on a server belonging to your own ISP. If you live in Europe, the site you’re browsing may be hosted in America, but with a CDN running, the images will be loaded from a local European server much closer to you (just like here on MakeUseOf).
If you think the speed benefits would be minimal, I recently added a CDN to one of my own sites that’s fairly image heavy with screenshots; Pingdom reported the load time more than halved from 3 seconds to less than 1.5 seconds. That might not sound like much, but it equates to about 10% less visitors who will abandon the site due to slow load frustrations. Every second you shave off counts toward your bottom line.
Bandwidth & Storage Costs
Website hosting is cost-effective if you stick within the specified bandwidth limits; it’s when you go over these that the costs begin to rocket. Again, CDNs can really help out; About a third of the cost compared to your hosting provider would be typical.
However, not only do you need to consider data transfer costs, but the cost of actually storing that data too. If your company holds a huge number of PDF files or multimedia content, those can really use up your limited hosting space, pushing you into a higher-tiered hosting plan that you otherwise don’t need. Whether they’re frequently used or simply need to be kept online just in case, a CDN makes storage cost-effective by only paying reasonable fees for what you need and use.
A faster loading website that costs less? That’s really difficult to say no to, I think.
The fact is that MakeUseOf simply wouldn’t load without the help of a CDN. If your website or business is paying the high price of bandwidth over-usage or the user experience is being ruined by slow loading static resources and losing you valuable custom, it’s time you considered a CDN too.
Have you considered a CDN? If you’re hesitant, let us know what’s stopping you. Or maybe you have a CDN success story of how it improved your site? We’d love to hear from you.