During the last 250 years, many disruptive technologies have been introduced in the United States. The Industrial Revolution began in America around 1790, and within a century, it had dramatically altered the manufacturing process, the transportation system, methods of communication, and the way that the population was distributed between rural and urban locations. The internal combustion engine was another invention that had a major impact on business, people’s mobility and the distribution of goods. Commercial airlines disrupted rail transportation, air conditioning made the brutally hot states more attractive, radio brought news and entertainment into homes, the telephone practically destroyed telegraphy, and television allowed viewers to experience the world without leaving home. Of all innovative technologies introduced in the last two centuries, nothing has been more disruptive than the internet. It has given rise to a global marketplace, changed the way that businesses market their goods and services, altered the way that consumers shop, provided new sources of entertainment, and affected virtually every aspect of daily life in America. However, it is technically possible to have a successful business without having a website. If there is no website, there is no need for a CDN service. For everyone else, a CDN is a necessity.

What Does a CDN Do?

In laymen’s terms, CDNs are networks of servers that are geographically located as near as possible to the end users. The primary benefit of dispersed servers is that they reduce the time it takes for websites to load when users click on the site. However, CDNs also help ensure that the site is always available. For example, if an online store runs a major marketing campaign that is highly successful, the number of users attempting to access the site simultaneously could take up more bandwidth than a single physical location could deliver. Potential revenue could be lost, and the site’s reputation could suffer. Even under normal conditions, users who are located far away will have slower loading times than users who are located nearby. With a CDN, the loads are distributed to numerous servers so that users connect to the server that is closest to their geographic location, and this greatly accelerates the speed at which the website loads. Sites that load quickly can improve conversion rates and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, loading speed is a critical factor in a site’s SEO rankings, so websites that load quickly will appear higher on the results, increasing the likelihood that users will visit the site.

However, CDNs do much more than enhance loading speeds. Having the demand distributed over a network of servers virtually eliminates the possibility that the site can be taken down by a denial of service attack . If one server goes down due to a power failure or natural disaster, the load will be redistributed to other servers so that the site remains accessible. Because content is cached on each server, site owners can always have access to the content as well. As a nice bonus, site owners can save a substantial amount of money on purchased bandwidth.

Although CDNs offer some protection, they are not security tools in and of themselves. It will still be necessary to ensure that the origin server is secure. There are a number of administrative functions that can protect the origin server, the website, data and content. Therefore, it is important to understand what a CDN can and cannot do to determine the best ways to enhance security.

CDNs have evolved a great deal since they were first introduced, and they will continue to evolve. New functionality and improved cybersecurity will be introduced in the coming years. However, website owners should not wait on the next generation of CDNs before adopting one. After all, people are visiting the site now, so embracing a CDN now can help ensure that they will continue to visit.