The Business Benefits Of Using A Hybrid DIY CDN Approach To Content Delivery

No CDN provider can guarantee best performance for all kinds of content and across all geographies 100% of the time. For some use cases, this can result in a lack of control over content delivery when and where it is most critical for customers. To counter this, I’m starting to see a move by some companies toward hybrid CDN delivery, defined as building a private DIY CDN on top of a third-party CDN. For some this might seem like overkill, but in business-critical operations, slow performance, downtime and giving up too much control of content can dull a company’s competitive edge.

The hybrid CDN approach enables business advantages that ultimately boil down to optimizing performance within a content delivery ecosystem that they create, control and oversee to ensure availability, reliability, flexibility, and user experience. At the CDN Summit last month, there was a lot of talk about the business benefits of doing a hybrid CDN. The four most important being: always available and risk distribution; performance improvement; flexibility and control; security.

Always available and risk distribution
With online services at the heart of doing business, downtime or outages equal losses. As such, ensuring as-near-as-possible availability is the goal. Coupling a DIY, private CDN with a third-party CDN helps ensure this uptime by avoiding a single point of failure. When a third-party CDN goes down, websites go down with it – leading to the “all eggs in one basket” syndrome. Risk can be distributed more effectively by assembling your own private CDN and adopting a hybrid CDN approach that allows for better insight and control into what is happening in real-time. This results on cuts back on avoidable downtime, and, while seeing fewer problems overall, being able to spot them before or as they hit, to troubleshoot and mitigate their effects early and fast.

Performance improvements
As usual, one size does not fit all, nor does one tool solve all the complex problems: this is why, when looking for performance gains, leveraging a private DIY CDN on top of a third-party CDN ensures that content is deployed by best-performing CDN components in real-time in both regular or surging traffic. It can also allow for content delivery from the PoP closest to your primary region(s), ensuring fastest possible content delivery.

Flexibility and control
Implementing a hybrid CDN approach can let you to gain better oversight into traffic management and better traffic control of content. By creating your own purpose-built CDN ecosystem specifically for the needs of your specific business/traffic patterns you can direct traffic to your own private CDN nodes or third-party nodes to gain maximum performance and efficiency where demand is and run your business and application logic as close to your user as possible. This flexibility also introduces the ability to gain more control of your costs. Private CDNs enable greater scalability, as costs don’t rise based on capacity but rather on number of nodes and requests. This makes a big difference when heavier content (e.g. high-res video) requires more bandwidth. You gain control over your own traffic without adding more costs, paying for bandwidth, which you’d already do anyway, but with a private CDN layer, you gain oversight into the costs you incur. Commercial CDNs are basically rented resources, which can become expensive and out of your control.

Part of “taking back control”” of content includes ensuring its security. For many content owners, having valuable content on a multi-tenant, third-party CDN is not optimal for security. In addition to the aforementioned limitations of “renting resources”, letting your proprietary content travel across someone else’s infrastructure removes the layer of privacy and security some companies need. The private cloud structure can also act as a WAF to provide protection against DDoS and other attacks since with a hybrid CDN solution, your private content is not on an open, public network.

Sometimes the adage “less is more” doesn’t apply. In the case of business-critical content delivery, more is more. A hybrid CDN approach (your own DIY CDN combined with your third-party CDN) lets you address your content delivery challenges on a global scale to get the best of what the hybrid solution offers for tangible, positive business results.

Summing it all up, a DIY CDN solution allows you to:

  • Mitigate outages and downtime.
  • Eliminate the “single point of failure” problem.
  • Set up private nodes that will act as “origin shield” to optimize content delivery and cache-hit ratio, protecting the origin from sudden floods of calls from the CDN.
  • Focus on your performance: with a DIY CDN, you are not sharing performance with the thousands of other customers of the third-party CDN.
  • Direct traffic to your own private CDN nodes or third-party nodes to gain maximum performance and efficiency where demand is and run your business and application logic as close to your user as possible while controlling your costs.
  • Secure your proprietary content by delivering it over your own private CDN.

Recognizing the need for the kind of flexibility and control a DIY CDN offers, Varnish Software and Cedexis partnered last year to create a solution delivering all of these benefits: Varnish Extend. Underpinned by high-performance caching from Varnish Plus and global traffic management from Cedexis, Varnish Extend is a DIY content delivery solution designed specifically to provide tailored, individualized content delivery infrastructure options. [See my post entitled: Varnish Software And Cedexis Announce A New Private Content Delivery Offering]

For more in-depth details on a hybrid CDN approach, check out the video of Varnish Software’s presentation entitled, “Combining Your Existing CDN With a Private Content Delivery Solution” from the CDN Summit last month.