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How do CDNs Work?

Thomas Bower Michelle Zhao


Tanmay Khanna Ali Yepifanova
Imperial College London
TopicsFest 2016

22nd March, 2016

The Problem

Frustrating!

What are CDNs?

Content Distribution Networks


Interconnected systems of servers
Spread across the globe
They can...
Save copies of websites, files, and media
Speed up websites
Allow for more traffic

Why do we need them?

Scalable
High-capacity
Boosts
performance
Saves money
Distributed

Components in a CDN

Origin Server
Surrogate Servers
Request Routing Mechanism

How They Work

First Request

How They Work

First Request

Second Request

Types of Selection Algorithms

The types of selection algorithms fall into two general schemes:


Active Schemes (with per-request monitoring)
Passive Schemes (with routing tables).

Active Scheme Routing

Each user request is sent to a pool of request routers.


The routers analyse each individual request.
Over a dozen parameters are checked.

Passive Scheme Routing

Uses an information table to decide which surrogate server to


redirect the request to.
Maps each request to the appropriate surrogate server.

Passive Scheme Routing

Table: Routing Information Table

Client
Location
Europe
America
Asia
Africa

Distance from Surrogate Locations


New York Paris
New Delhi
120
30
160
30
120
200
160
160
60
160
100
120

Passive Scheme Routing

Table: Routing Table

Client Location
Europe
America
Asia
Africa

Surrogate Server Location


Paris
New York
New Delhi
Paris

Topology of CDNs

Definition
Topology is the study relating to the internal structure of a
network.
For optimal performance, distribution of end nodes is
important
There are two approaches - co-location and network-core

Topology of CDNs
Co-location Approach

Nodes are scattered


Low capacity

Efficient in low-connectivity
areas

Closer proximity to user

High maintenance cost

Topology of CDNs
Network-core Approach

Nodes are consolidated

Large data centres

High capacity

Fewer locations

Performs better under


hacker attack

History
Who is This?

History
First Generation CDNs

Server farms and proxy caching kick things off


CDNs extremely expensive
Focus on optimising physical proximity to servers
Transition from copper to fiber wiring
Most content on the web is static

Static vs. Dynamic

History
Second Generation CDNs

Content becoming richer and more dynamic


Users have faster connections and better hardware
Demand for quicker internet increasing
Strain on First Generation CDNs
Consolidated topology more prevalent than scattered
Still not that affordable...

History
Third Generation CDNs

Anyone with a website can use CDN services


Main challenge is distributing mobile content
One approach is replacing HTTP
Topology is highly consolidated for security reasons

What next?

Want to Learn More?

To find out more, please visit our website.


http://howcdns.work

References I
1

Sipat Triukose, Zhihua Wen, Michael Rabinovich. Content Delivery Networks: How Big is Big Enough?,
Case Western Reserve University. 2009. Available from:
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.413.7099&rep=rep1&type=pdf [Accessed 28th
February 2016]

Incapsula. The Essential CDN Guide CDN Infrastructure. Available from:


https://www.incapsula.com/cdn-guide/cdn-architecture.html [Accessed 2nd March 2016]

Akamai. About Akamai Facts and Figures. Available from:


https://www.akamai.com/us/en/about/facts-figures.jsp [Accessed 2nd March 2016]

Sipat Triukose, Zhihua Wen, Michael Rabinovich. Measuring a Commercial Content Delivery Network,
Case Western Reserve University. 2011. Available from:
http://wwwconference.org/proceedings/www2011/proceedings/p467.pdf [Accessed 28th February 2016]

Akamai. Akamai Reveals 2 Seconds as the New Threshold of Acceptability for E-Commerce Web Page
Response Times. Available from: https://www.akamai.com/us/en/about/news/press/2009-press/akamaireveals-2-seconds-as-the-new-threshold-of-acceptability-for-ecommerce-web-page-response-times.jsp
[Accessed 19th March 2016]

Kit Eaton. How One Second Could Cost Amazon $16bn in Sales. Available from:
http://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost-amazon-16-billion-sales [Accessed 19th
March 2016]

DMJ Web Design. Prepare for Website Traffic Spikes. Available from:
http://dmjcomputerservices.com/blog/prepare-for-website-traffic-spikes/ [Accessed 19th March 2016]

Todd Wasserman. Coca-cola, Acura Websites Crashed During Superbowl. Available from:
http://mashable.com/2012/02/06/coca-cola-acura-websites-crashed-during-superbowl/#S9xYMWXp0EqC [Accessed 19th March
2016]

References II
9

Mukaddim Pathan. Content Delivery Network (CDN) Research Directory. Available from:
http://www.cloudbus.org/cdn/RD/CDNs.html. [Accessed 1st March 2016]

10

Nicholas C. Zakas. How content delivery networks (CDNs) work. Available from:
https://www.nczonline.net/blog/2011/11/29/how-content-delivery-networks-cdns-work/. [Accessed 17th
February 2016]

11

Dinesh C. Verma. Selecting the Right Site in a CDN In: Content Distribution Networks An Engineering
Approach. Wiley Interscience. 2002.

12

Stef Van Der Ziel. Multi CDN: Active Request Routing. Available from:
https://www.streamzilla.com/multi-cdn-active-request-routing. [Accessed 10th March 2016]

13

Srini CR. CDNs: Not on the Last Mile Yet. Available from:
http://tatacommunications-newworld.com/?p=2251 [Accessed 21st March 2016]

14

Akamai Technologies Company History; How Akamai got its start. Akamai. Available from:
https://www.akamai.com/us/en/about/company-history.jsp [Accessed 17th February 2016]

15

Buyya R, Pathan M, Vakali A. Content Delivery Networks. 1st ed. Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin
Heidelberg; 2008.

16

Goran andrli. The History of Content Delivery Networks. Globaldots. Available from:
http://www.globaldots.com/the-history-of-content-delivery-networks-cdn/ [Accessed 20th February 2016]

17

Bourreau M, Cambini C, Doan P. Access regulation and the transition from copper to fiber networks in
telecoms. Journal of Regulatory Economics. 2014;45(3): 233-258. Available from:
doi:10.1007/s11149-014-9245-z [Accessed 1st March 2016]

18

NTT Communications. The Value of a CDN. Available from:


http://www.us.ntt.net/downloads/papers/TheV alueo fa C DN2 010.pdf [Accessed9thMarch2016]DanRayburn.

19

How Mobile Acceleration Works: An Inside Look At Cotendos Newly Announced Service. StreamingMedia.
Weblog. Available from: http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2011/06/how-mobile-acceleration-works-aninside-look-at-cotendos-newly-announced-service.html [Accessed 9th March
2016]

Thank you for listening.


Any questions?