Do I need a Magento CDN (Content Delivery Network)?

by | May 27, 2017 | Blog, Ecommerce, Magento Performance, Marketing | 0 comments

We get asked regularly by clients if a Magento CDN is right for their site. Everyone wants fast page load times, and a number of vendors such as Akamai and Amazon offer solutions. So how do they work, and should you use one for your site?

How a Magento CDN Works

CDNs basically distribute pieces of your site to servers around the world. Millions of web servers in almost every country. Akamai, for example, has over 2,000,000 servers globally. When a web page on your site loads, it can pull pieces of your site from a server that is very close, saving a few milliseconds to several seconds. These pieces of code can include JavaScript files, CSS files and images. Files generated dynamically on the server cannot be put on a CDN. An example would be a basket page, which changes from user to user.

CDNs also have a number of other techniques they use to speed up page loads:

  1. Caching – Merchant’s can adding a secondary layer of servers between the web server and customer to speed distribution of files.
  2. Better Routing – Software tools that do a better job of connecting the customer’s browser with your web site.
  3. TCP Optimization – Workaround of some limitation of the basic internet communication protocol.
  4. Prefetching – Their networks predict the next file requested. They proactively start sending the file without a browser request.
  5. Compression – CDNs further compress files to make them smaller, and faster to send, and faster to render on the browser.

A lot of these techniques save a little time here, a little time there. But every little bit helps.

Magento CDN

Learn more about CDNs by viewing this slide show.

Where is a CDN most helpful?

Most of our clients are smaller and medium sized companies. Many of our clients have limited budgets. Further, many only do business in the United States, so the distance covered between the web server and the customer is relatively short.

Regarding CDNs, that matters in two ways. First, the time from server to customer web browser is relatively short. Companies doing business globally may see their site take three seconds to load on the other side of the world. It takes time for traffic to make it through all the hops on the network. So for a company doing business globally, a CDN can be very useful. But for a company only doing business in the US, the half second of load time saved may not make much difference.

Second, implementing a CDN takes 3-5 hours. Not huge, but is that the best use your budget? Frequently money should be better spent optimizing the whole site. Or adding a feature? Or doing some digital marketing. Again, that a drop in the bucket on a $200,000 project. But if your total budget is $10,000, another $500 is substantial

In Conclusion

We believe CDNs can be a valuable tool for clients selling globally and/or your budget can fit another $500. If that isn’t your company, we can offer many other options for speeding your site. View my recent TLS Encryption post for some ideas. Want some individual consulting, call us!

Keyword: Magento CDN

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