IBM Content Delivery Network improves user experience worldwide

3 min read

IBM Content Delivery Network improves user experience worldwide

This blog shows how much the IBM Content Delivery Network (CDN) can improve the performance of your cloud applications, globally. We tested some specific use cases, and we wanted to share what we learned!

Suppose that a large telecommunications service provider based in Europe wants to serve customers in Brazil from their Frankfurt, Germany location. With such large geographical distances, it is challenging to achieve consistently low latency and thereby provide a good user experience. Another challenge is to scale the infrastructure to handle a large number (thousands or millions) of user requests during peak traffic conditions.

Typically, most of the content to be delivered is static,  which means that the data does not change based on user input. Examples of static content include Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript (JS), image files, and so on.

delivered is static

Figure 1: Telecom provider in Germany wants to deliver cloud services to customers in Brazil

In our tests, we began by replicating the customer scenario. We used test files with representative sizes (4 KB, 100 KB, and 1 MB). A client in São Paulo fetched files from an Origin host (web server) in Frankfurt. Average access times were:

  • Small file (4KB); 385 milliseconds (ms)

  • Large file (1MB); 1,628 ms, or 1.6 seconds

Just so you know, these are long wait times! Long wait times can lead to dissatisfied customers.

IBM solution

The IBM Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) service, powered by Akamai, provides an ideal solution in this scenario. How does CDN help?

  • It leverages a network of distributed servers around the world and caches content closest to the end users.

  • An initial user request is redirected to an Edge server that is located geographically close to the end-user’s location. The Edge server fetches the content from the Origin host, and caches it. Once data is cached, all subsequent user requests from that region are served directly from the Edge server’s cache, which drastically reduces the distance and time it takes to serve the user’s request.

  • The only time the Edge server requires to contact the Origin is to refresh the cache content.

  • The cached content’s refresh time can be customized, ranging from 30 seconds to more than 60 years.

IBM solution

Figure 2: Telecom provider uses IBM Content Delivery Network services to support its off-shore customers

We compared performance times for retrieving files directly from the Origin host and with performance times for the IBM Cloud CDN service. IBM Cloud CDN performed 8 to 14 times faster!

IBM Cloud CDN performed 8 to 14 times faster!

*Results may vary depending on operating environment.

Figure 3: IBM Cloud Content Delivery Network service provides faster file access to off-shore customers

Figure 3: IBM Cloud Content Delivery Network service provides faster file access to off-shore customers

IBM Cloud CDN service provides these additional benefits:

  • Our large number of CDN Edge servers can handle millions of user requests from across the world, which helps scale your service globally.

  • Using CDN reduces the network bandwidth utilization on the Origin network, reducing overall costs of hosting the web service.

  • The Edge servers act as a shield for the Origin servers, providing a first level of defense for sudden surges of traffic.

  • CDN supports Object Storage Origin, HTTPS delivery, support for multiple Origins, and optimization for applications that serve videos or other large files.

For more information about IBM Content Delivery Network, check out our documentation.

Ketan Pancholi

Software Developer, IBM Watson and Cloud Platform

Nikhil Gupta

Development Manager, Network Security Services, IBM Watson and Cloud Platform

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