What is Multi CDN and do I really need it?

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have become commonplace in the world of website management for several key reasons. Website owners have come to rely on the increased loading speed and added security that comes with using a geographically distributed group of servers. CDNs also enhance streaming capabilities and can help high-profile sites manage large amounts of daily traffic.

CDNs have some limitations, however. While load times are improved when users access websites served from a nearby CDN, those benefits do not extend to websites loaded from farther away. In an increasingly globally-connected and internationally-competitive world, a typical CDN structure can limit an organizations’ reach, and ultimately, its success.

Many companies are turning to Multi CDN technology to mitigate these global access issues.

What is a Multi CDN?

A Multi CDN, as the name implies, is a method that uses multiple CDNs from different providers simultaneously to achieve better website performance. This is an improvement over the typical method, where organizations subscribe to multiple CDNs based on performance requirements in order to achieve similar performance enhancements. 

While Multi CDN strategy isn’t a new concept, there hasn’t been a true off-the-shelf Multi CDN solution before the launch of mlytics platform. 

Traditionally setting up Multi CDN requires businesses to activate and manage each CDN individually. A proper load balancing method that can fully utilize the activated CDNs also needs to be planned to effectively utilize the CDNs. 

what is a multi CDN
How multi CDN works?

Do I really need more than one CDN?

Growing organizations stand to gain several key benefits from investing in Multi CDN technology. Using a Multi CDN setup can solve issues or help a company expand into a new market. Multi CDNs offer several attractive benefits: 

  1. Global performance enhancement is one potential benefit. Single CDN performance can vary by region, but Multi CDNs spread across several regions improves overall latency stats. Regions like China and Russia present notorious challenges to website delivery, for example, and a Multi CDN strategy can help organizations work around issues related to local regulations and controls. Multi CDN allows companies to gain granular control of their content delivery, sometimes all the way down to the city level. 
  1. Uninterrupted, continuous website uptime is possible with Multi CDN. When one CDN provider experiences an outage, Multi CDN can route web traffic through another provider. Web content delivered by Multi CDNs is not affected by traffic spikes or fluctuations. 
  1. User expectations around streaming media can present hurdles for up-and-coming organizations. Modern websites must be able to not only deliver graphic-heavy content, but users expect that content to be of high quality and delivered near-instantly. This can be an impossible issue to overcome with single CDN setups. Multi CDNs can help ensure that websites can keep up with users’ demands.
  1. Using a Multi CDN provider can improve website load times by distributing content through nearby CDN servers. Faster load times can reduce bounce rates and increase the amount of time visitors spend on a website.
  1. Organizations can save on bandwidth costs and overage fees by using a Multi CDN. 
  1. Multi CDNs can enhance security by providing features like DDoS mitigation and authentication enhancements.

Multi CDN in the age of cloud incidents

Most likely, you’ve selected a CDN that promises reliable service. In truth, even the largest, most trusted service providers can experience unexpected downtime, sometimes with devastating consequences. Lost profits due to website downtime are bad enough; the long term, negative impact of tainted customer loyalty could be even worse.  

outage without multi cdn
You won’t even be able to complete a meme properly if there’s an outage

There’s a good chance you’ve personally been affected by a CDN outage at some point. CDN downtime has affected popular, heavily-trafficked websites like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Verizon, to name just a few. If companies as prominent as these can be taken out by CDN failure, it’s easy to understand why smaller organizations are equally, if not, more vulnerable when they rely on a single CDN provider. 

Most companies cannot easily absorb this kind of financial hit. Maximizing website availability is a must for any company hoping to expand or maintain market share. Websites related to financial transactions, e-commerce, and multimedia are especially vulnerable to the consequences of website downtime. 

Okay, I’m convinced — what’s the best way to implement Multi CDN?

First, identify which CDN providers best suit your requirements. This really depends on where your target audience is located in, and what specific features you’re looking for from a CDN provider.

Secondly, determining which load balancing method is the most effective for your business. Load balancing has been determined by one of these methods:

  • Round robin – CDNs “take turns” serving content to spread the load across activated CDNs. This method doesn’t take any factors into account, simply distributing traffic to all CDNs equally.
  • Weighted round-robin – Also known as “ratio load balancing”, instead of equally distributing traffic across all CDNs, this method sets traffic ratio to weight traffic accordingly and assign priorities to specific CDNs.
  • Geolocation – This method determines a user’s location and finds the closest PoP/CDN to distribute their requests (traffic).
  • Performance – This is the most advanced of all. This requires a highly customized load balancer that can determine CDN usage, and select the best-performing CDN for traffic distribution.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many load balancing solutions on the market that specifically addresses this use case. Most businesses which use Multi CDN develop their own solution, which usually cost a lot of time and resources. So round robin and weighted round robin is the most common load balancing method of all because the technical threshold is relatively low and requires less time and resources to develop and implement. 

mlytics was founded to fill this gap on the market, and hopefully to provide an off-the-shelf solution for this application.

Our approach

When we started this project, we went back to the drawing board and ask: “what’s the most painful part of the process?”. It all boils down to the lack of connection between CDN activation and load balancing implementation.

mlytics multi cdn

We’ve been since working closely with major CDN providers around the world including Alibaba Cloud, Akamai, AWS, Cloudflare, and more. We’ve integrated those CDNs onto a platform, and designed a marketplace-like interface which allows businesses to subscribe to CDNs with just a few clicks without having to negotiate and lock into a long-term contract.

We also developed a system that can intelligently route traffic across all the CDNs activated via the platform which takes the end-user geolocation and CDN performance status into consideration when making routing decisions.

mlytics is now saving businesses time and resources by offering this package globally.

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