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Choosing the Best CDN: What to Look for

When a content delivery network (CDN) does its job, the end user doesn’t even notice. Online shoppers browse product pages and make purchases. Sports fans follow their favorite teams live. Professionals across industries access critical workplace resources instantaneously. Behind the scenes, however, finding the best CDN is a crucial business decision, as a poor user experience can jeopardize your reputation and even your strategic goals. 

CDNs become increasingly more important as internet usage grows. The global content delivery network market, already valued at $18.2 billion in 2022, is projected to increase at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 23.6% from 2023 to 2030. To handle growing content demands, businesses need a reliable solution to avoid latency and availability issues.

Whether your company is new to CDNs or re-evaluating its setup, you recognize the value of delivering web content quickly, reliably and consistently. Read on to learn more about CDNs and how to choose among top CDN providers.

What Is a Content Delivery Network?

A content delivery network is a network of servers strategically placed in numerous points of presence (PoPs). A CDN’s primary function is to quickly and efficiently deliver web content to users, including images, videos, and other static or dynamic files.

CDNs work by caching content in multiple edge locations, which are geographically dispersed data centers. These CDN PoPs are located throughout the world, near population centers, so customers get much faster access to content. When a user requests a file, the CDN automatically routes the request to the nearest edge server. This minimizes the distance between the user and the server, reduces latency and improves website performance.

4 Benefits of Content Delivery Network Services 

A CDN offers several benefits for businesses that rely on frequent content updates. Here are four of those advantages.

Improved Performance

CDNs improve website performance by reducing latency and minimizing the distance between the user and the server delivering the content. By caching content in multiple edge locations, CDNs speed up user access and increase efficiency. The results include faster page load times, improved website responsiveness and a better user experience. 

This performance is especially important for online sellers or social media platforms, which can experience traffic spikes during certain times of year or when an unexpected event occurs that spurs consumer interest. A few seconds’ difference in loading time might not seem like much, but research suggests otherwise. For example, B2B websites with a 1-second loading time generate leads three times as often as websites taking 5 seconds to load. B2C sites also outperform based on loading time.

Reduced Costs

CDNs help businesses reduce bandwidth costs by offloading traffic from the origin server and distributing content across multiple edge servers. This eliminates the need for large server infrastructure to handle the traffic, as the CDN's edge locations efficiently handle content delivery. CDNs also optimize resource use by efficiently delivering content without incurring unnecessary expenses.

Instead of relying solely on their own infrastructure and bandwidth resources, businesses can rely on CDNs to efficiently deliver content without the need for additional investments. Smaller businesses also benefit from this because they don’t pay 24/7 for high bandwidth but have CDN providers that can adjust bandwidth if demand spikes.
It's also worth noting that with CloudFront on AWS, egress bandwidth costs are cheaper compared to server egress bandwidth. This further contributes to the cost-effectiveness of using CDNs for content delivery.

Increased Availability

CDNs improve the availability of content delivery by distributing content across multiple edge locations. If one server or data center experiences issues or goes offline, the CDN automatically routes the request to the next nearest server for uninterrupted content delivery. Such redundancy improves your web content’s reliability and availability. CDNs also help businesses maintain consistent performance even during demand spikes.

Improved Security 

One of the primary ways CDNs improve security is by mitigating distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks aim to overwhelm a website or application with a flood of traffic. When they succeed, the site becomes inaccessible. CDNs are a buffer between the origin server and the internet, absorbing and filtering malicious traffic before it reaches the server. By distributing ‌traffic across multiple edge servers, CDNs handle large request volumes and effectively mitigate DDoS attacks.

CDNs also provide SSL/TLS encryption for secure communication. CDNs act as an intermediary by encrypting data transmitted between the user's device and the server. This encryption protects sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial details.

Some CDNs offer web application firewalls, which analyze and filter incoming web traffic, among other security measures. Amazon CloudFront, for example, can tailor access controls to geography, preventing users located in certain countries from accessing their websites or applications.

Choosing the Best CDN_ What to Look for (2)

Finding the Best CDN for Your Needs

Choosing the best CDN provider starts by evaluating your needs. Here are some key considerations to help you in your search.

Performance Optimization

Evaluate your performance requirements and determine where your target audience is geographically located. Look for a CDN with a strong presence in those regions, including low latency and fast content delivery. Top CDN providers offer numerous, strategically placed edge locations to ensure quick, reliable content delivery. Consider the provider's track record and reputation for delivering content efficiently.

Scalability and Flexibility

Consider the scalability and flexibility of CDN providers. Can they handle your current traffic demands, and can they scale with you? Look for CDNs that offer automatic or easy scalability options. Additionally, ask about supported content types, such as static files, dynamic content, streaming media and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Reliability and Redundancy

Choose a CDN that’s not only reliable but also builds in redundancy through multiple edge locations and other infrastructure. Even when problems arise, a reliable CDN provider can minimize the risk of downtime. Consider vendors that offer failover mechanisms, automatic routing to the nearest available server and backup options.

It's also important to evaluate the number and distribution of edge locations that different CDN providers offer. Amazon CloudFront and Cloudflare are known for having extensive global edge networks, while other CDN providers, such as Azure, have fewer. CloudFront, for example, boasts a global network of 600-plus PoPs and 13 regional edge caches in more than 100 cities across 50 countries. This extensive network ensures that content can be delivered efficiently and reliably to users around the world.

Security Features

Look for CDNs that provide robust security measures, such as DDoS protection, SSL/TLS encryption, web application firewalls and content access controls. Additionally, inquire about other security features that are must-haves for your environment and content-delivery needs.


Look at CDN pricing and cost-effectiveness. Evaluate the pricing structure, including fees for data transfer, storage or advanced features. Consider not only price but also the value provided through performance, reliability and security. You might also consider whether CDNs offer flexible pricing, contract terms and transparent billing practices.

Integration With Existing Infrastructure

Assess how well a particular CDN integrates with your existing infrastructure and technology stack. Your ideal CDN will easily integrate with content management systems, e-commerce platforms and cloud providers. Look for CDNs that provide comprehensive documentation, APIs and developer tools to facilitate implementation and integration.

For example, many third-party integrations are available from providers such as Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront. But CloudFront also is designed to work seamlessly with Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings, providing a comprehensive cloud infrastructure solution. AWS offerings, such as Amazon S3 for storage or Amazon EC2 for compute, integrate natively with CloudFront, letting you distribute and deliver content stored in S3 buckets or accelerate EC2 instance performance.

Customer Support and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Evaluate the level of customer support provided before and after implementation. Look for CDNs with responsive customer support, including 24/7 availability and a strong reputation for technical assistance. Additionally, review service level agreements (SLAs) for details on guaranteed uptime, performance, and support commitments.

Choosing the Best CDN_ What to Look for

Deliver Dynamic Content With Amazon CloudFront

For more than 15 years, Amazon CloudFront has helped businesses deliver dynamic content efficiently and reliably. The service offers extensive global edge locations and seamless integration with AWS, making it a powerful solution for countless organizations across industries.

For example, in addition to the Boston Celtics modernizing sports analytics with AWS tools and technology, they make sure fans have instant access to the latest news and updates. The Celtics' website relies on a static website hosted on S3 with caching provided by CloudFront to handle team-related content, including scores, images and other dynamic elements. To ensure high availability and disaster resilience, Mission Cloud went beyond the typical CloudFront configuration by setting up a secondary origin in a geographically separate AWS region. This setup allows content to be pulled from the secondary region in case of problems in the primary region, ensuring uninterrupted content delivery.

Because the Celtics require frequent content updates, a serverless function was created that automatically invalidates the cache whenever new content is uploaded. Content refreshes immediately across edge locations, providing fans with up-to-date information without waiting for cache expiry dates.

The team benefited from CloudFront’s fast performance capabilities and global reach. The Celtics enjoy reduced costs and have employees who are free to focus on their work without worrying about content availability or reliability.

“Mission Cloud fits in perfectly,” says team Chief Technology Officer Jay Wessland. “There's the breadth of knowledge across a wide range of AWS services, and they can deep dive when we need them to so that our people can focus on their core priorities, which are basketball and what data is trying to tell us about basketball. Our main focus is not managing cloud IT infrastructure, and we don’t want it to be.”

Whether it's delivering real-time data, streaming media or other dynamic content, CloudFront empowers organizations to efficiently distribute content and provide an exceptional online experience to users. 

If you have questions about CloudFront or any other CDN, connect with our cloud experts to find out how we can help. 

Want to learn more about how we help our customers? Learn how MHNext saved 62% with a CloudFront private pricing agreement after partnering with Mission Cloud and AWS.

Author Spotlight:

Mark Snyder

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