As information proliferates across the Web, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are becoming an increasingly important component of the Internet’s infrastructure. CDNs are positioned between content producers (in this case, media companies) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) carriers and network operators.
With their distributed topology of a network of servers, CDNs are able to ensure fast and efficient delivery of content. CDNs offer several benefits for content providers, including speed of delivery and a fail-safe mechanism of redundant servers. (Run a Free Speed Test of your web page’s CDN Content here)
CDN Issues: Loss of Control
For all their benefits, however, CDNs come with drawbacks. One of the drawbacks for webmasters is lack of control of content. Webmasters using a CDN do not have access to the servers that store and serve up their content. This means that the webmaster cannot directly control specifics of content delivery and deployment. Also, changes to content often cannot be directly controlled by the webmaster.
Regaining Control of CDN
By tracking CDN metrics webmasters can see how CDNs are performing and re-assert control.
An external monitoring company, like Dotcom-Monitor, provides the tools needed to gather these needed CDN metrics.
CDN Monitoring Metrics
1. Server response time performance: Tracking the response time from CDN servers helps measure CDN efficiency. It also helps make the case for investing in Content Delivery Networks. For example, you can save costs by testing your CDN with monitoring tools. If your website’s response time does not show a marked improvement when using a CDN, then the CDN is not performing its role in speeding up content delivery to end-users.
2. Individual page elements: Most basic monitoring solutions provide a consolidated page load time of the HTML file. This time is not a true indicator of a content delivery network’s efficiency. The reason this is not a true measure is the consolidated HTML file response time isn’t specific enough because the specific load times of the elements within the HTML web page vary greatly. The complex mix of elements within the HTML file include both static and dynamic elements, as well as primary hosted and third-party hosted elements (which includes CDN content), that aggregate together to form the web page itself. In order to acquire the load times of specific page elements across these various dimensions a webmaster needs to use a monitoring company that measures individual element response times.
By measuring the specific elements a webmaster can determine if a CDN (whether serving content from a server that is close to the end-user or far away) is performing the role of speeding content as expected.
3. Host speeds: Content Delivery Networks are expected to optimize speed. They use a variety of methods to achieve their ends, including web caching or storing pages that are most frequently used and server load balancing, or assigning loads based on server availability and traffic. Because content is dispersed across a number of servers, it is often difficult to track or identify appropriate nodes in a network that might be responsible for problems. However, this metric is vital. This is because measuring response time from individual hosts can help proactively identify the appropriate nodes in a CDN network that are causing problems. Using this information, a webmaster can inform their service provider and, also, make proactive arrangements to ensure backups for distributing content to faster and efficient servers.
CDN Metrics: Tracking CDN Performance
The Dotcom-Monitor BrowserView Monitoring™ service enables you to connect with servers and collect element-level data regarding a website using a browser. By measuring page load times using a browser a webmaster can identify slow and missing elements in a webpage and understand element speed by host. Performance bottlenecks can be identified using the analytic capabilities and diagnostics can be performed quickly when CDN problems are detected. Although some CDNs (such as KeyCDN’s content delivery network) use the HTTP/2 protocol for faster content delivery, it’s still beneficial to add third-party monitoring with BrowserView to ensure that performance metrics are within the desired parameters.
Monitoring Content Delivery Networks enables webmasters to regain control of delivery and deployment of CDN content. Monitoring tools that reach into element-level performance of web pages, such as BrowserView Monitoring at Dotcom-Monitor, enable webmasters to quantify returns and increase efficiency of Content Delivery Networks.