CDN: The Next Great Step in Online Media
What would the internet be like without multimedia? We actually don’t have to go back that far in history to answer that question. Internet users once had to download video clips entirely to a hard drive, which could take entire days before the availability of broadband connections.
Even with broadband, users had to fill up large amounts of local hard disk space to store all of their media. Internet technologies for embedded video such as RealPlayer and other formats became available in the late 1990s but were not very reliable and did not usually deliver very high quality image and sound.
The rise of the Adobe Flash player has helped improve multimedia delivery and was one of the keys to the growth of YouTube (launched in 2005) as well as other user-generated content video sites. Currently, almost any website can easily embed video and give a rich multimedia experience to its visitors.
With all this progress behind us, we c an now ask a new question: what would the internet be like without content delivery networks (CDN)? These services can be viewed as the next great step in the progression of allowing rich media over the internet. As advanced as our streaming and media technologies have become, they are still bandwidth and resource intensive. Delivering video to a user requires making an internet request and then transferring the content of that video as effectively as possible. If this were done as a direct connection of browser to client, it would not be suitable for modern viewing needs. Instead, a CDN usually uses “edge” devices that are networked closer to the user, provide load balancing, and cache content to make the browsing experience much better. This is just a basic overview of what a CDN provides. It has been shown that just a two second delay in loading or downtime can cause a user to lose interest in a website, meaning less enga gement and revenue for the owner.
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