The worst thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning is a notification that your organization’s web server is down. When that happens, no one can see your website. You’re “off the air,” so to speak. It may seem odd, but your entire website relies on one single point of failure: the server. Whether it is because of a bad hosting vendor, a cyberattack or an unexpected spike in traffic, when that server goes down, public confidence in your organization and brand go down with it.
However, there is hope in the form of a solution called a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs are platforms that host your website tens or even hundreds of times over across the world. Any downtime or attacks (DDoS, or otherwise) are inconsequential because the website is not hosted in any one specific place. It lives in the cloud!
What is a CDN
That ‘in-the-cloud’ concept seems confusing at first, but take the concept step-by-step to see why this works. With a CDN, you’ll still have your main server hosted by any average-Joe hosting company. Call it the origin server. As your organization makes updates to the origin, the CDN periodically scans the website much like a search engine and downloads new content. Newly downloaded content is then sent to every server that the CDN has available.
Now, when someone navigates to your website, they are not actually downloading content from your server; they are downloading content from a CDN server. Your server doesn’t play a part. So, if your server were to fall off the face of the Earth, no one outside of your organization would notice because the CDN would continue along with the latest copy of information from the origin server. And if the CDN is attacked and a few of their servers fail, there is a queue of servers waiting to fill the slot. No downtime.
The Cost of a CDN
A global network of servers sounds fairly expensive. One web server lease puts enough of a dent in your budget as it is. The good news is, like many cloud services, you only need to pay for what resources you use. Major CDNs such as Akamai, Amazon CloudFront, LimeLight Networks, and more offer competitive pricing based on total requests and total data downloaded per month. There is still an added cost because the solution requires an origin server, but with that added cost comes enhanced uptime and increased confidence in your organization.
Getting Started with a CDN
Deploying a CDN is not difficult. To move forward with getting a CDN, talk to your website’s vendor about implementing one. They can handle getting quotes and additional specs as needed, and they can setup the CDN with your website once you are ready. With a CDN, your Saturday mornings will become much more relaxed without fear of errant downtime alerts.
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