Who needs a CDN?

At-a-glance summary of which businesses benefit most from a CDN

Any enterprise with a web audience in multiple locations can benefit from using a CDN, but if your users are likely to download lots of stuff from your website, play media files, and/or watch or listen to live broadcasts, you are likely to benefit most. The headline content types for CDN services are:

  • Live video broadcasts (e.g., sports, concerts, events, etc.)
  • Video files (e.g., movie trailers, ads, promos, instructional material, training, sport highlights, etc.)
  • File downloads (e.g., software downloads, patches, or critical updates)
  • Multimedia content (e.g., games or music)

Here is NetForecast's at-a-glance summary of typical user activities for sites associated with a variety of industries, and the expected performance benefits the activities are likely to bring to those industries. Industries such as entertainment and gaming are likely to experience bigger overall business benefits than insurance and financial services, because their users are doing things like downloading files, and/or consuming streaming media. These users will experience a more immediate and visible benefit when an application takes advantage of a CDN, than users participating in more humdrum activities like filling out web forms.

Gaming and game development businesses can benefit from faster initial downloads of game clients, installers, patches, in-game content (a.k.a., downloadable content or DLC), and demos. These files are often large, and can take much longer to receive from the origin server than from a server close to end users. Also, since game content is subject to popular whims, flash crowds can overwhelm origin servers and slow the user experience to a crawl. CDN services protect users from both of these outcomes.

Like gaming and game development businesses, software-related businesses can also benefit from faster file exchange—as can entertainment and media sites that want to deliver a satisfying multimedia experience to their users.

It goes without saying that for general web use there is proven positive correlation between better web performance and improvements in session time, repeat visits, conversions, and abandonment rates. But for some industries and end-user activities, a CDN is a no brainer, even for small enterprises.

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