How Does a CDN Work?
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are designed to reduce network latency when serving content over the Internet to users distributed around the world.
The world’s largest CDN provider, Akamai, maintains a global network of more than 325,000 servers, residing in more than 1,400 networks across 135 countries. The Akamai CDN is within a single network hop for 85% of Internet users, and is estimated to route between 15 and 30% of all traffic on the Internet.
Organizations that serve content over the Internet, including SaaS companies, web publishers, and video streaming services can contract with Akamai to store data on Akamai servers and deliver it to their customers via the Akamai CDN. Akamai’s extensive global network brings these assets and services physically closer to the end user, resulting in faster access and minimizing latency.
Founded in 1998, Akamai was a very early entrant in the CDN marketplace. The marketplace for CDN providers in 2023 includes free CDNs, traditional commercial CDN providers, public cloud CDN services, and proprietary CDNs operated by telecommunications companies. Well-known alternatives to Akamai include StackPath, Cloudflare, Fastly, Imperva, and Amazon CloudFront.