10 Questions to Ensure your CDN Supports your Continuous Delivery Needs

Eric Sugimoto

CDN and your Continuous Delivery and Automation Needs

Etsy deploys more than 30 releases of its website every day. The average time between Amazon’s deployments is 11.6 seconds. In today’s world, DevOps teams, security teams, and IT systems are challenged to keep up. The strain on these teams and systems is in part due to the reality that legacy content delivery networks (CDNs) simply can’t meet continuous delivery needs. Ten years ago, CDNs could easily handle monthly or quarterly website deployments. After all, developers only needed a system that could cache static content on edge servers closer to end-users.

Application development and delivery needs have changed. Today, continuous deployments are necessary for businesses to keep up with consumers. Media companies need to report breaking news as it develops – readers don’t want to hear about the results of the presidential primaries a day after polls close. They expect results as they happen. In the eCommerce industry, businesses need to be agile when it comes to updating prices and inventory during flash sales – allowing customers to purchase shoes that are actually out of stock is a bad user experience. Continuous delivery is mission critical for companies as consumers demand real-time updates. So, what role does a CDN play in continuous delivery?

In CDN’s Role In Continuous Delivery And DevOps, Forrester analyst Mark Grannan writes about how CDNs help DevOps, network operations, and security teams address the demands and threats of today’s landscape. He notes three distinct roles CDNs have in continuous delivery:

1. CDNs ensure optimal caching strategies

Making changes to production environments can sometimes have unexpected effects on caching strategies. In order to mitigate the worst case scenario in which changes cause a page to break, DevOps teams can use CDNs to test their caching strategies in pre-production environments. Automation from CDNs enable organizations to be agile and responsive when it comes to updating content, recalling content, and deploying new releases. This increase in agility and responsiveness encourages organizations to try new things. For example, with a modern CDN, an online media company can quickly push “The 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Get A Puppy” to their website. If an hour later, analytics reports show more than 75% of readers abandon the site after viewing this article for 5 seconds or less, the article must be pulled. The team’s CDN enables them to immediately recall this content.

2. CDNs provide visibility into application performance and security

CDNs gather an enormous amount of data on performance and security events. With so much data, it’s oftentimes difficult for organizations to separate what’s relevant from what isn’t. Modern CDNs provide powerful analytic tools that organizations can use to troubleshoot performance and security issues in a timely manner. For example, organizations can use data from their CDN to discover that a particular image isn’t loading correctly, causing a slow page load. This insight empowers DevOps teams to quickly replace the faulty image with a new one that doesn’t degrade performance. Modern CDNs leverage APIs to push large amounts of data in near real-time, enabling DevOps teams to react quickly to issues that arise.

3. CDNs mitigate security threats

Not only can CDNs provide insight into security threats as they develop, they can also actively protect against these attacks. CDNs are located at an optimal position to do this – at the edge of the network, between an organization’s origin servers and the end user. This allows a CDN to prevent malicious traffic from ever reaching the origin servers. This is especially useful during distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. A CDN that is best equipped to protect against these attacks is one that can quickly push new rules across the network in order to stop evolving threats.

If you are currently using a CDN or looking to deploy one, here are 10 questions to ask to ensure your CDN has the features needed to support your continuous delivery needs.

  1. How long does it take for an invalidation request to propagate through the CDN?
  2. Does the CDN provide analytics and troubleshooting down to the URL level?
  3. How long does it take for a configuration change to be rolled out for my application?
  4. What tasks can be completed via APIs?
  5. What is the process to change a configuration?
  6. How long does it take to purge the cache?
  7. How can the CDN mitigate security attacks?
  8. How does the CDN automatically optimize for faster performance?
  9. Does the CDN empower my marketing team to quickly deploy new campaigns and content?
  10. Does the CDN enable the development of rich, immersive experiences without compromising performance?

CDNs provide DevOps teams with numerous benefits when it comes to continuous delivery. Automation allows organizations to be more agile, giving them the ability to respond to consumer demands and constantly evolving security threats. If your agile team continuously deploys, ask the right questions to ensure your CDN meets your needs.

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