Signing on with a CDN provider is a big decision as well as a big investment. If you don’t do your due diligence before selecting your provider, you may end up with a service that doesn’t quite fit your needs. Without proper research you could end up paying too much for services you don’t need or conversely, you may not be getting the best performance in the regions that matter the most to you.
The following five questions are key to helping you find the right CDN provider. Before you start the process of finding a provider, know your answers to these questions so you can find the right CDN fit:
1. What regions are most important for your website to perform well in?
As you most likely already know, not all websites have the same audiences. If you have a globally dispersed group of visitors, your CDN needs will be different from those of a website that gets all of its traffic from a single region.
Knowing which regions are most important to your website will help in selecting a solution. It is possible that you may end up wanting to use multiple CDNs to use the best performing solutions in various areas.
2. Is your content mostly dynamic or static?
Your needs for a CDN may vary based on the type of files that you need to host. Some files may be better left in house, like your web pages themselves or any files that get updated frequently.
Conversely, CDNs are great for files like images or style sheets that can stay static without many changes. A CDN can get these files closer to your end user so that they can load faster.
If you do choose to host most of your files through a CDN, understand that your content will remain cached. If you have a lot of dynamic content or highly personalized content, find a CDN that is able to quickly adapt to any changes you need.
3. What’s best for your industry?
Some CDN providers have extensive experience working with companies within particular industries. This has lead some of these vendors to build features or security measures that align to the specific needs of those industries, or to create industry specific bundles that have been configured to best address the requirements of each industry.
If you have security or regulatory compliance requirements that must be met by any vendors you work with, the providers that have extensive experience in your industry may be your best bet to meeting these needs.
4. What extra features do you need?
If you’re just looking to optimize the performance of basic web pages, then you may not be in need of special features. However, depending on the nature of your business, you may have higher security requirements or a need to optimize your site as much as possible for mobile visitors.
Some CDNs may be better suited to provide certain features, like video or image compression, so it is beneficial to determine what your specific needs are and discuss those upfront with all potential providers.
5. What’s most important to you: performance or low cost?
Finally, one of the most important questions that you need to answer is how much you value performance over a low-cost solution. Going back to the first question about important regions for your business, there’s plenty of research available about which providers offer the best performance in specific regions as well as which are most cost effective in those regions.
If you ask these 5 questions during your search for a CDN, you should be able to find a solution that works best for your needs. However, sometimes you’ll find that you may need more than one CDN. This is where a Managed DNS provider can help you load balance among multiple CDNs to help you create the perfect solution for your business.
You should note that some CDN providers make it difficult to use their CDN without using their DNS – be careful about choosing one that forces you into their other services, limiting your ability to create a best-of-breed solution, or to easily swap out these services down the road. If you plan to use multiple CDNs to gain cost savings, better regional coverage, or additional features, make sure to use a vendor agnostic DNS provider so that you won’t find yourself locked in when you need to expand your infrastructure in the future.