What is a CDN (Content Delivery Network)?

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers that makes websites available to their users more quickly. Thanks to globally distributed server instances, CDN services can always ensure the optimal performance of websites, regardless of where the domains are accessed from.


By using a CDN network, organizations optimize the digital user experience and the scalability of their business processes with lightning-fast loading times and short latencies. In addition, CDN services reduce operating costs by saving bandwidth, computing power and server capacity on the origin side.

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Building a CDN


CDN: A Definition

A content delivery network, more rarely also called a content distribution network, enables websites to be loaded quickly around the globe. For this purpose, CDN services rely on globally distributed server instances on which the website content is temporarily stored. As a rule, elements such as CSS and JavaScript files as well as memory-intensive images, videos or audio files are preferably loaded via a content delivery network.


When users access a website that has been delivered via a CDN, the request may not have to travel across several continents to reach the original server (origin). Instead, the CDN uses the server that can answer the request the fastest - this is usually located geographically closest to the requesting user.

Computer Hardware


How Does a CDN Work?

In order to build a network that is as performant and fail-safe as possible, CDN services are present with their server instances at locations that are strategically valuable for the network. For example, the globally distributed Internet exchange points (IXPs), where Internet service providers (ISPs) connect their networks, are ideal for this purpose. The world's largest IXP in terms of throughput traffic is the DE-CIX in Frankfurt am Main. By stationing CDN servers at these high-performance nodes, CDN providers ensure the best possible data transmission performance.


Who Needs a CDN?

For many websites with high traffic volumes and international access, it makes sense to use a CDN service. Without a CDN, all traffic must be processed solely by the origin servers of the respective organization. These servers form a "single point of failure" when unexpected load peaks or hardware or software problems occur. In addition, long loading times can result if requests originate from geographically distant regions.

With the help of a high-performance content delivery network, however, webmasters can minimize loading times and latencies - even if an unexpectedly large number of requests occur in parallel. In addition, problems with the origin servers do not directly affect users, as website elements are still delivered via the CDN network. All of these factors improve the digital user experience and have a positive effect on search engine rankings.

Identify CDN Demand: Bandwidth, Latency and Reliability Requirements Are Crucial

These industries benefit most from the use of a CDN:

Public Sector

Public authorities use CDN services to protect themselves against outages in order to fulfill their duty to provide information even in exceptional situations.

Streaming Services

Streaming services for video and audio use content delivery networks for fast and reliable delivery of their digital content. The same applies to live streaming and gaming platforms.


Online retailers improve their conversion rate with a CDN service thanks to faster loading times and shorter latencies.

Software Provider

Providers of software downloads and updates use CDNs to ensure the reliability of their services.

04. What Benefits Does a CDN Offer Companies?

Unternehmen profitieren bei Verwendung eines Content Delivery Networks von folgenden Vorteilen:

Failsafe Performance

CDNs handle unforeseen load peaks that would completely overload the Origin server.

Reduced Amounts of Data

CDNs compress web content. These smaller data volumes are sent much faster.

Optimized Media Streaming

Content delivery networks can distribute audio and video content with variable bit rates and dynamic resolution to ensure the best possible quality at all times.


CDN providers store web content on high-performance caching servers that respond to incoming requests from RAM memory. This enables higher performance to be achieved than with classic hard disks or SSD storage.

Lower Operating Costs

By reducing the load on the origin server through caching, expensive traffic can be avoided and bandwidth saved. The use of a CDN provider also enables cost-effective scaling.

Improved IT Security

Thanks to hardened server instances and optional protection functions, CDN providers can offer a high level of security for digital business processes.

Cloud in the sky


What Are the Disadvantages of Using a CDN?

There are not only advantages to using a content delivery network, but these must be weighed up against the following downsides:


  • Effort in in-house operations: Setting up and operating a content delivery network means a considerable amount of extra work for the company. Reliable service providers provide a remedy here.

  • External dependency: If a company hosts data exclusively on its own server, it has full control over this content. When using a CDN, however, it is essential to choose a reliable CDN provider.

Data Center


CDN and Dynamic Content

Dynamic content includes, for example, news tickers or shopping baskets in online stores. In principle, such objects cannot be stored in cache servers, as each user receives individually customized content. This makes dynamic content unsuitable for CDNs.


Modern CDN providers use appropriate workarounds to accelerate the transfer of data. They accelerate the data flow flexibly and in real time and enable optimized routing paths for the data transfer of dynamic content.


Criteria for Selecting the Right CDN Provider

When looking for a suitable CDN provider, companies are faced with a wide range of options. In addition to traditional CDN providers that focus purely on the accelerated delivery of content, there are also specialized protection service providers on the market that offer comprehensive security solutions in addition to performance. The following criteria will help you choose the right CDN service:

Traffic Management

CDN providers handle global traffic management for their customers. Load balancing ensures the efficient load distribution of traffic. This can take place both at server level and at data center level in order to achieve optimum load distribution from the individual server instance to several data centers.

Network Security

When choosing a CDN provider, it is essential to ensure that it offers network security services and protects against distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), for example. Furthermore, secure bot management is elementary.


The use of CDN services requires encryption to be temporarily broken (SSL/TLS termination). Choosing a trustworthy and competent service provider for CDN services is therefore crucial to ensure confidentiality, integrity, authenticity and availability of data.

Subway tunnel


CDN: This Is What You Need to Know

Content delivery networks enable accelerated traffic distribution for websites. When choosing the right CDN provider, however, it is also important to look for expertise in the area of IT security. In addition to high-performance distribution of web content, the stability and security of a company's own web services also play a key role in its digital success.


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Frequently Asked Questions About CDN