3 Benefits CDN's Bring to Startups

Startups are better equipped to succeed when they give developers the tools they need to innovate and maintain secure and competitive sites and applications that deliver excellent user experiences, and a modern CDN can help. Here are three benefits participants in our Launchpad program for fast growth get from a modern CDN.

3 Benefits of a CDN for Startups

1. Secure sites and applications

As customers become savvier, there is no question that they demand secure apps and websites. But security isn’t an afterthought you add on before you push your site live or think about when there’s already an issue. Security is something that should be inherent across your entire delivery model.

Some CDNs take the approach of baking in security across the entirety of the network rather than adding it on as an afterthought, which puts them in a privileged position to leverage the latest protocols and provide visibility and enforcement. For example, using real-time logs, developers know immediately when, say, a DDoS attack is underway. Developers can inspect entire requests, including headers, cookies, request path, client IP, and geolocation, and take action within seconds to block traffic.

Developers can also count on a modern CDN to provide visibility into data that indicates an attack is underway, and then send a security alert. Some modern CDNs go beyond that, offering developers the ability to craft custom rules, roll back changes, and adjust network behavior using a customer-facing UI or API.

A modern CDN also helps developers by working hand in hand with a Web Application Firewall (WAF), which will examine a CDN’s logs and recognize whether any one of a thousand types of attacks is underway. Developers can configure them to automatically take action to block the attack, without human intervention.

With security baked into a single delivery network for delivery — as opposed to, for example, one network for delivery and one for security — a modern CDN can also more easily spot security anomalies and respond quickly, allowing developers to make comprehensive scaling decisions as attacks intensify, which is particularly useful when fending off DDoS attacks.

2. Better search engine rankings

Discoverability is a major factor in your company’s adoption, and the importance of site rankings can’t be ignored. Although search engine optimization (SEO) is a murky science, there are direct ties to a site’s performance and its search ranking. A modern CDN can make your site more trustworthy and its connection more stable, which can reap serious search engine optimization (SEO) benefits. 

For example, sites fronted by a modern CDN — one that uses modern cryptography for its Transport Layer Security (TLS) connections and low latency HTTP responses — won’t be penalized in search rankings for being too slow or too insecure. In addition, they can implement newer protocols such as HTTP/2 or QUIC automatically for you.

Some modern CDNs use Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA), which helps take advantage of long-lived, open connections across the majority of the route to delivery, thus increasing speed — even for cache misses or uncacheable content. Some modern CDNs even shield a site from traffic on non-HTTP ports and any invalid HTTP traffic, which can stymie certain DDoS attacks, making the site more resilient.

CDN configuration and API design can also impact a site’s Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the time elapsed between the page starting to load and when the largest element is completely rendered and ready for interaction. Elements measured are usually images, videos, and block-level elements containing text nodes. One way to optimize LCP is by focusing on time-to-first-byte (TTFB). Caching API responses and compressing images at the edge with a modern CDN improves TTFB and thus LCP.

Explore more about how a modern CDN can impact your site performance and SEO results by watching a recording of a recent webinar on the topic. 

3. Customized content and A/B testing

Finding the best option for your homepage, shopping experience, or optimizing calls to action is an important part of finding the path to success for your startup. 

Modern CDNs can help developers tailor content based on criteria such as user type, device type, and location, ensuring that people get the information most relevant to them. Some include the ability to pinpoint the location of an end user down to their longitude, latitude, continent, country, city, postal code, telephone area code, and metro code. That allows for delivering localized content like coupons to a city or zip code; serving versions of a site in different languages based on location and showing product availability based on the region; or serving an image size and quality based on the device it’s being used on. 

Because modern CDNs allow developers to deliver different content to different people, and CDN logs provide developers with usability analytics, they’re ideal for A/B testing for website design or functionality as well. For example, developers can use their CDN to deliver different versions of a sale to customers based on geographic location and the devices they use, targeting them with products they’re most likely to buy. By examining real-time streaming logs, they then know how many people click on particular products, which helps them craft offers more likely to succeed, and then instantly update the site with them.

What’s next?

Delivery, performance, and security are three important aspects of any startup’s success. Savvy end users are looking for companies who not only offer a delightful product and app design — they also want consistent uptime and the confidence of a secure experience. Understanding why you need a modern CDN is the first step in the right direction.

Interested in learning more about our programs designed specifically for startups? Check out Fastly Launchpad, and see if you qualify for free credits to help get you started and support your growth.

Simon Wistow
VP Strategic Initiatives

4 min read

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Simon Wistow
VP Strategic Initiatives

Simon is a co-founder at Fastly, where he helps lead strategic initiatives. Before helping found Fastly, Simon was a senior search engineer at Yahoo! Europe, LiveJournal, SixApart, Scribd, and then at social help desk company Zendesk. In a past life, he worked on R&D for a leading VFX Company doing films like the Harry Potter series, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Sunshine, and Wallace and Gromit. At one point he worked as a cowboy in Australia. Mostly because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Find him on Mastodon: @simonwistow@hachyderm.io

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