SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Containers Expo Blog, Machine Learning , @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

Microservices Expo: Article

Welcome to the Show of Content Delivery Networks

Act 1 – The What and Why

"Step right in. You will witness a show of magic and wonders, passion and trust, speed and misunderstandings." a (slightly altered) catch phrase that keeps popping in my head when talking to companies in regards to managing Content Delivery Networks (CDN). Apart from the misconception that a CDN will solve all performance problems one of the great unknowns seems to be how to actually monitor CDNs the right way. And as we all know: you can't manage what you don't understand! So in three "Acts" I will walk you through the main purpose of CDNs, how such systems have to be monitored and what dirty unknowns the right strategy can bring to the surface.

Years ago I was a member in an Off-Theatre group in Berlin. Why that would have any relevance to the CDN topic, you may ask. Part of our maturity journey resembles what almost all companies go through when they end up paying for a CDN service. We were a passionate group, lots of talent (of course), lots of energy and had a dedicated fan group. However we had the same challenge as all off-theatre groups have: no budget, hence no real publicity from a marketing perspective. We started printing flyers and postcards to promote the show. First small numbers and then more and more putting them in pubs, restaurants, book shops, etc. While happy with the result the whole thing stole a lot of our time. So we began to delegate: friends and fans would distribute and in return get free tickets. After a while we realized that we needed to get into better locations like Hotel lobbies and other flyer stands, which however were controlled by marketing agencies.

So we decided to look for one which would help us out and a whole cascade of questions had to be answered:

  • Which one has the best offer?
  • Where and how should they distribute our content?
  • Can they help us with the decision and if so do/can we trust their judgment?
  • How soon do we need to make our decision and how quickly can they react to our needs?
  • How can we be sure they deliver what they promised?
  • Will the money we spent be worth it?

And these are questions which certainly should look familiar if you've ever had to deal with a CDN.

What is a CDN?
In a nutshell CDNs are helping IT teams either by taking on a large bulk of the traffic or by decreasing the latency. They typically have a large network server or points-of-presences (PoPs) spread across the globe. Historically these PoPs were basically used as caching tiers which are much closer to the end user then the origin servers of your own data center. Today of course the CDNs have become much more advanced handling complex route optimization, content compressions, etc., but for the purpose of explaining the right monitoring strategy the simplified explanation of a widely distributed network of servers instead of just 1 centralized data center is enough - also it's the core aspect everyone thinks of when they hear CDN. The most important thing though is that they should speed up things for the end user with less investment then trying to do it in house.

Why use a CDN?
15 years after my theater adventures, I now realize that the services the marketing agencies offer, are exactly the same in the "real world" as the CDNs offer in our digital world today. They help getting the content closer to the customer, making it very convenient to access it. Used the right way they can have a very positive business impact - even when the initial investment seems to burn a big hole in the IT budget. And their service can grow with your business starting locally to simply ensure the scalability of your venture all the way to reaching far away locations across the globe.

Reducing Latency
Looking at a typical, internationally operating B2B manufacturing company or an international financial institution the main CDN benefit is getting the content much closer to the users spread across the globe and thus minimizing the latency and increasing the performance. Factors like decreased DNS, connection and first byte times are their main motivators.

Externalizing Load Balancing
Another scenario of a heavy traffic site like the popular German magazine Spiegel.de where most of the traffic is coming from within Germany on the other hand would benefit by outsourcing the handling of the load and thus minimizing the number of requests hitting their own infrastructure. So the hit/miss ratio is an important factor judging the efficiency of the CDN. Hit in this case meaning the content was served straight from a CDN PoP and miss meaning the content had to be fetched by the CDN from the origin before it could serve it to the end user thus still creating an impact in the data center. Such a traffic reduction on the origin can of course also be used cleverly to minimize the impact of denial of service attacks.

Primary CDN use cases: load balancing and latency reduction

And of course mixes of these 2 main benefits like high traffic sites with international reach or outsourcing relatively few but large file downloads are relevant as well.

So the two main things to look for when it comes to CDN investments are:

Does the CDN help to achieve the overall goal of performance improvement for the end user by:

  • Decreasing latency (dns resolution, connection speed, 1st byte time)
  • Decreasing load on own infrastructure (hit/miss ratio)

and by how much?

Scarily enough over the years I have realized that many companies in the end base their decision on which CDN to choose on gut feeling and guesswork. Many do run an evaluation project, however in most cases the methodology of these projects is questionable.

What to look at when choosing a CDN?
While many aspects like pricing or relationship and trust are of course important in choosing the right vendor I want to focus on the main purpose of the CDN - fast delivery to the end user.

And to be able to make informed decisions and not just guessing about the current situation you need to be confident in answering the following questions. Click here to learn what questions you need to be asking - and what answers you need to be looking for regarding a CDN.

The old way of monitoring doesn't work and not having control over the situation can be disastrous!

More Stories By Kristian Skoeld

Kristian Skoeld is a Performance Analyst at Compuware APM Center of Excellence. He coaches and supports teams across Europe as a Performance Analyst and Product Specialist in Web Performance Management. He is an expert in optimizing IT processes, develop web strategies and putting them into action, and a subject matter expert on Web Performance and Web Monitoring within the Compuware APM business unit.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
With privacy often voiced as the primary concern when using cloud based services, SyncriBox was designed to ensure that the software remains completely under the customer's control. Having both the source and destination files remain under the user?s control, there are no privacy or security issues. Since files are synchronized using Syncrify Server, no third party ever sees these files.
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
I believe that this may finally be the year that the CIO role ‘crosses the Rubicon,' leaving behind its traditional, IT-focused orientation. But I don't believe that either of the previous predictions of this outcome — fading into oblivion or rising to a business executive level — is correct. Instead, I think this is the year that we will see the role of the CIO transformed into something altogether different.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"Calligo is a cloud service provider with data privacy at the heart of what we do. We are a typical Infrastructure as a Service cloud provider but it's been designed around data privacy," explained Julian Box, CEO and co-founder of Calligo, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
CI/CD is conceptually straightforward, yet often technically intricate to implement since it requires time and opportunities to develop intimate understanding on not only DevOps processes and operations, but likely product integrations with multiple platforms. This session intends to bridge the gap by offering an intense learning experience while witnessing the processes and operations to build from zero to a simple, yet functional CI/CD pipeline integrated with Jenkins, Github, Docker and Azure...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.