Larry Loeb

Network operators, companies, and CDNs

A CDN can help network operators increase throughput

All businesses have customers. A network operator’s customers are typically other companies who make money by reselling the network services to end users. Alternatively, the company itself may be the end user if they are an enterprise that distributes the data for internal use, such as Internet access. In this case, the enterprise deals directly with the network operator for their own data needs. The relationship between a network operator, a reselling company, and an end user functions as a chain. Everything must flow smoothly for success to occur in the links that make it up.
In many ways, the network operator faces an analogue of a plumbing situation, where a certain amount of pressure is needed for water to flow from a spigot. The pipes are a certain diameter, and they can only handle so much water. Network operators have to push data through their “pipes” to eventually get to their end users. They have to avoid crimping the pipes along the way, which would cause a slowdown of the bits inside.

Keeping each link of the chain satisfied
When network operators consider their customers, they look at how those companies consume data and the conditions that they will put on the delivery of the network’s output. Operators must also consider the bandwidth that their customers need, as well as how that bandwidth will be geographically distributed. The network operator also has to be able to deal with changing situations, such as flash crowds and cloud servers that can grow and shrink at any time. Their customers, the reseller companies, will have shifting demands placed on them based on what their users need, and will reflect these changes in their demands to the network operator.
An operator that cannot respond to these changes will find that their networks show congestion. Network congestion leads to latency for the user, and, ultimately, their dissatisfaction. The user will place blame for this latency on the company, who will then blame the network operator.

What CDNs can do for each link of the chain
A content delivery network (CDN) is designed to speed data though a delivery chain. It has many technology tricks to accomplish this, all of which can help network issues such as global load balancing or the managing of flash crowds. One such trick is to have copies of data cached in a global network, which then delivers the content from a location close to the user. This makes the data appear at the user’s location faster than it would without local caching. As a result, the user will see low latency.
When the end user is satisfied, they will likely keep doing business with the company that is keeping them happy. As a result, the reseller company is also a satisfied customer, and will likely maintain the relationship with the network operator. Everyone wins when the chain remains unbroken. A CDN can directly improve throughput, a key metric for any network operator. Using a CDN to ensure a seamless relationship between customers and end users is a solution that every network operator should consider.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons



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