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Implementing a multi-CDN is spreading a site’s content across multiple CDN providers. Once upon a time this was a strategy that was typically only found at larger enterprises. However, a multi-CDN strategy is now common among businesses of all sizes. Multiple CDNs provide the obvious benefit of delivering content beyond a single point of failure. So, what’s the best approach to building resiliency into your content streams? In this article I’ll cover some common multi-CDN options.

One of the biggest reasons for increased demand in multiple CDNs is the single point of failure associated with a single CDN. There are also some regional differences between CDNs that affect performance. Beyond the single point of failure, performance is another one of the strongest drivers for moving to the multi-CDN. Customers want to deliver the best content to their customers at the highest performance possible. Security is also a reason a company may consider multiple CDNs. The availability to move away from a CDN if needed could prove to be crucial if stream level access is compromised. Let’s take a look at each of these reasons in more detail.

CDNs are not always 100% reliable and there will be periods of downtime. If this happens to be during peak traffic times, it can be very costly in lost traffic and revenue. The magnitude and region of an outage can vary. Major outages for all zones affect the entire CDN, but there are also smaller outages that are limited to geographical areas. Sometimes smaller outages can go undetected if specific monitoring to detect these is not configured. Multi-CDNs allow for an environment where traffic will automatically failover to a backup to prevent downtime and eliminate interruptions.

Video content along with an overall increased consumer appetite for content has led to an increased focus on performance. Utilizing a multi-CDN is the perfect use case to increase performance. There are several ways to configure a multi-CDN, but the first choice for optimizing one for performance should focus on the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS matches domain names to IP addresses. With multiple CDNs, the domain points to the host names of the CDN providers. Those providers then point to the IP address of the closest server to the user who requested the domain. This does not require any additional lookups and leads to faster load times. Many DNS providers offer continuous monitoring of the CDN providers to test for responsiveness. The fastest performing server to deliver the content is then selected based off the results.

Finally, security should be a top concern for any organization. If a CDN is compromised it could lead to many additional problems. Beyond the potential loss of functionality, further attacks on additional systems and customers are possible. In the case of a compromised CDN, a multi-CDN configuration would provide the flexibility of having additional options available.

Multi-CDNs provide specific companies with strict content demands a massive amount of positive benefits. Now may be the time to consider one in your own environment for performance and availability.

Last modified on Monday, 02 December 2019
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Craig Gehrig

Craig Gehrig is a systems administrator with Rainbow Resource Center, an online retailer of educational materials in Peoria, IL. He is also the founder of Vanova IT, a security research and IT solutions provider. In his spare time, he can be found on the golf course and spending time with his wife Vanessa and their two children- Sasha and Craig.

Website: https://twitter.com/CraigGehrig

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