Buyer's Handbook:

A guide to CDN technology benefits, providers and services

Editor's Note

When it comes to delivering web content to your users, response time counts. Content delivery networks are all about decreased latency and increased performance. Designed for organizations that generate large amounts of traffic, CDN technology can transparently provide users anywhere in the world with faster delivery of mission-critical applications, on-demand videos and static images.

A CDN delivers data using cache servers and points of presence that are geographically located as close to the user as possible. According to Kevin Tolly, founder of The Tolly Group, once a user enters a company's web address, sessions are automatically redirected to the specific CDN via the domain name system. To provide the best response time, the CDN will usually interconnect its edges using dedicated, private lines, rather than internet links.

In addition to performance benefits, CDNs can also save money. By offloading content delivery to a third-party vendor, an organization will require fewer servers. This means less physical real estate, power and cooling are required.

The CDN market includes providers with a global presence, as well as those that focus on a particular country or region. These vendors offer a variety of core and specialized features and functionality, including load balancing, application firewalls, and other content and network security services.

But before selecting a CDN provider, it's crucial to carefully evaluate your requirements so you can make a compelling business case to management. For example, how much of your content needs to be cached? What is the average size of that content? Do you need a CDN service with a global presence? What about advanced management features for purging and refreshing content? Have you considered your security needs?  

By answering these questions, you can match your requirements to leading CDN services examined here to create a shortlist. Then, using the product comparison, you can further drill down to select the CDN service that will best meet your needs.

Using extensive research into the content delivery network market, TechTarget editors focused this buyer's guide on 10 leading providers of shared global content delivery network services. Our research included data from TechTarget surveys and reports from research firms, including Gartner and Forrester.