You have a thriving website or web application that generates a substantial amount of data. Currently, you only rely on the basic cPanel tools from your web hosting provider. However, you may not be aware that a couple small changes can dramatically improve your site’s performance, and profitability. Try incorporating both a CDN, and the appropriate data storage system for your site or web app.
By incorporating a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and implementing appropriate data storage techniques, you can revolutionize your website’s efficiency while also reducing costs. A CDN helps deliver your content faster to users across the globe while, adopting the right data storage methods ensures easier accessibility to information and saves your business valuable resources. Let’s dive into how these solutions can benefit your website and propel your online presence to new heights.
All Website Owners Should Utilize a CDN:
In a previous article, we discussed the advantages of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for businesses operating in distant markets. For instance, an e-commerce shop based in Germany but serving customers in the US, China, and Latin America would greatly benefit from a CDN. However, it’s important to note that all websites, regardless of their target audience, can realistically experience advantages from implementing a CDN. Additionally, the cost of CDN technology has become so affordable that it’s worth considering its implementation for any website.
Advantages of a CDN:
Makes Your Site Much Faster
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) operate by storing your website’s files across a network of servers strategically positioned in data centers that experience high traffic. These servers act as caches, holding copies of your site’s content for quicker access. When a user requests your website, they are directed to the nearest CDN server instead of your main server. This significantly reduces the time taken for data to travel, resulting in faster delivery of your site.
Let’s take an example: Suppose your E-commerce site is based in Germany, and you receive an order from a customer in China. Instead of the customer’s request traversing all the way from Germany, they can access the cached version of your site stored on a CDN server in Hong Kong. This considerably speeds up the delivery process.
Now, you might wonder how this benefits a scenario where your site is located in Des Moines, but your customer is in Omaha. The same principle applies. If there is a cached version of your site on a CDN server in Omaha, the customer in Omaha will be directed to access that local version. Even with a relatively short distance, such as when the customer is located in Wyoming, they will still access the version of your site stored on a CDN server in Nebraska since it is closer. While the time saved might not be substantial, it still contributes to improving the overall speed of your site.
Built-in Redundancy and Outage Protection
CDNs provide the advantage of distributing your site across multiple data centers and regions, rather than keeping it in one location. This approach offers significant benefits. For instance, if there is an outage in your main data center, your CDN ensures that your site remains live. Since your site is available across numerous data centers, it provides extreme redundancy, minimizing the risk of downtime and ensuring continuous accessibility to your website for users. This distributed setup enhances the overall reliability and resilience of your online presence.
Better Resistance to Cyber Attacks
Denial-of-service (DoS) and Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aim to overwhelm your main server by flooding it with excessive traffic, causing your site to go offline. However, when you utilize a CDN, requests are filtered and distributed across a vast network. This makes it significantly more challenging for attackers to overload your site with malicious requests. The distributed nature of a CDN helps to mitigate the impact of DoS and DDoS attacks, ensuring that your website remains accessible to legitimate users even during such malicious attempts.
CDNs and load balancers operate on similar reverse-proxy technology. When a request is made, it is sent to the CDN, which then determines the most suitable destination for that request. By configuring a CDN, you can distribute requests in a way that avoids overloading any single point of access. This ensures that users can enjoy the best possible experience by having their requests directed to the optimal server or resource. The combined functionality of CDNs and load balancers helps to maintain a balanced and efficient distribution of incoming requests, enhancing overall performance and user satisfaction.
Less Main Server Requests Reduces Costs
If you are being charged for bandwidth usage, which is a common practice among hyperscalers and other large cloud providers, exceeding a certain limit can result in additional costs. Every time a user sends a request to your server and data is transmitted, it consumes bandwidth.
However, by utilizing a CDN, many requests can be served with cached pages without being forwarded to your main server. This can have a DRAMATIC impact on reducing your bandwidth costs. With the majority of requests being handled by the CDN and served from its cache, the amount of data transferred directly from your main server decreases significantly. Consequently, your overall bandwidth consumption is reduced, resulting in potential cost savings. The efficient handling of requests through the CDN can help optimize your expenses associated with bandwidth usage.
Summing Up CDNs
Hopefully this brief explanation of CDNs demonstrates their immense value for businesses of any scale. Regardless of the specific issues you may be facing with your website, implementing a CDN is highly likely to enhance the user experience. CDNs offer a wide range of benefits that can address various challenges and optimize your site’s performance for improved user satisfaction.
Go the Extra Mile and Optimize Data Storage
Now, if you maintain a website or web application chances are you using cloud technologies for other purposes, right?
While you may have assumed that storing files in the cloud is as straightforward as uploading them to a cloud provider, there are actually several strategies you can employ to optimize your business’s efficiency in the cloud. The specific strategy you choose, depending on the type of data you work with, can significantly impact the organization of your business operations and the cost savings you can achieve
An Intro to Cloud Data Storage
There are three main types of cloud storage: file storage, object storage, and block storage. Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different use cases. By understanding these differences, you can determine which storage solution is best for your specific needs. It’s also important to note that you can implement these storage types together as part of your overall cloud strategy, depending on your requirements.
File Storage: This is the traditional storage system where data is organized hierarchically into files. Advantages include familiarity with the hierarchical structure and the ability to manage data in a structured manner. However, file storage may be less scalable for large-scale data and can have limitations in terms of performance and access speed.
Object Storage: In object storage, data is stored without a hierarchical structure. Instead, each data object is associated with metadata, which helps in locating and utilizing the data. The advantages of object storage include scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. It allows for efficient storage and retrieval of vast amounts of unstructured data. However, it may require adjustments in application design to fully leverage its capabilities.
Block Storage: Block storage involves breaking data into evenly sized blocks and storing them on separate servers. When the data is needed, the blocks are combined or stitched together. Block storage offers high performance, low latency, and the ability to manage data at the block level. It is commonly used in scenarios where direct and fast access to data is crucial, such as databases or virtual machines. However, managing block storage can be complex, and it may have limitations in terms of scalability and cost efficiency.
To determine which storage type to implement, consider your specific use case, the nature of your data, scalability requirements, performance needs, and cost considerations. It is also worth noting that a combination of these storage types can be utilized within your overall cloud strategy to optimize your data management and meet diverse business needs.
File storage is the most straightforward type of storage, commonly used for operating systems, web application files, websites, and cloud drives. It involves storing files in a hierarchical structure within folders on a single drive. For instance, you can organize files under different categories, such as Home -> Lawfirm Clients -> Sandy, Matt, Shelly, with each category containing corresponding files.
· Intuitive and easy-to-understand hierarchical structure.
· Support for storing various file types.
· Simple visual navigation.
· Excellent performance and low latency.
· Ability to handle complex files effectively.
· Limited scalability as it primarily expands horizontally (across multiple drives) rather than vertically (increasing capacity within a single drive).
· Organization depends on user input and may vary.
· Can be cost-intensive, particularly when storing a large volume of data, compared to other storage solutions.
Overall, file storage offers simplicity and efficient performance, making it suitable for many applications. However, it’s important to consider scalability limitations, organizational factors, and potential cost implications when deciding whether file storage is the optimal choice for your specific storage needs.
When to use File Storage:
File storage is an excellent choice when you require quick access to files and minimal latency over HTTP. It is particularly well-suited for applications like web applications, websites, and files intended for external users, such as cloud storage sharing.
On the other hand, file storage may not be the best option if you are dealing with a substantial volume of data. Due to its intricate nature, file storage occupies more space, and its faster and easier accessibility leads to higher costs imposed by cloud providers. This is because they anticipate greater bandwidth usage and data egress. Consequently, if you plan to store a large amount of data, file storage can become expensive.
When considering your storage needs, it is important to weigh the advantages of file storage, such as quick delivery and accessibility, against its limitations, particularly in terms of cost-effectiveness for storing significant amounts of data.
Object storage is a highly popular choice for businesses that require storage of large data volumes. In object storage, data is organized by assigning metadata to individual objects, which are then placed in a unified pool along with other data types. These objects are retrieved by searching for specific metadata attributes.
· Cost-effectiveness: Among the most affordable options for data storage.
· Scalability: Extremely scalable, accommodating growing data requirements.
· Unstructured: Doesn’t rely on specific data types, making it versatile.
· High storage capacity: Enables storage of significant amounts of data.
· Object-level metadata handling: Efficient management of metadata at the object level.
· Robust search capabilities: Well-suited for conducting comprehensive searches.
· Pay-as-you-go: Only pay for the storage resources utilized.
· Immutability: Objects cannot be modified once written and would require rewriting if chances are needed.
· Limited compatibility with traditional databases: Object storage may not work well with traditional database systems.
· API complexities: Developing object storage APIs can be challenging, and sharing capabilities may be restricted.
When considering object storage, it is essential to assess the advantages it offers, such as cost-effectiveness, scalability, and the ability to handle unstructured data. However, be mindful of the limitations, such as immutability, compatibility constraints with traditional databases, and potential complexities in developing APIs for object storage.
When to Use Object Storage
Object storage is known for its affordability in storing large amounts of data, making it ideal for applications like long-term record keeping, big data analytics, and cold storage. However, its slower access speed limits its use in web applications and databases. The key advantage of object storage is its native metadata, allowing easy tagging and search for objects. This makes it suitable for scenarios where data volume matters more than hierarchical organization.
Among the three storage types, block storage can be the most intricate to comprehend. In block storage, objects are fragmented and distributed across multiple storage containers called blocks. These blocks can be spread across servers and accessed through a Storage Area Network (SAN). When a request is made for an object, the network retrieves the necessary blocks, stitches them back together, and delivers the complete file.
· Unique file identifiers: Each file is assigned a unique identifier, enabling access across different operating systems.
· Deployment in SAN environments: Block storage is compatible with Storage Area Network (SAN) setups.
· Path flexibility: It doesn’t rely on a single data path, providing flexibility in data access.
· Suitable for large databases and high transaction volumes: Block storage is well-suited for companies that deploy extensive databases or handle substantial transaction loads.
· Efficient for storing large data volumes: It performs excellently in scenarios requiring extensive data storage.
· Fast performance: Block storage offers fast data retrieval.
· Redundancy: It provides redundancy measures for data protection.
· Costly: Block storage tends to be expensive compared to other storage options.
· Limited object-level metadata support: Metadata needs to be assigned at the application or database level, as block storage lacks native object-level metadata handling.
· Inability to access files independently: Files stored in block storage must be reassembled before they can be accessed individually.
In summary, block storage employs fragmentation and distribution of objects across multiple blocks, accessed through a Storage Area Network (SAN). It offers advantages such as unique file identifiers, SAN deployment, path flexibility, suitability for large databases and high transaction volumes, efficient data storage, fast performance, and redundancy. However, it comes with drawbacks like higher costs, limited object-level metadata support, and the need for file reassembly before individual access.
When to Use Block Storage
Block storage is an excellent choice for businesses that manage extensive databases and handle a high volume of transactions. It is also well-suited for organizations utilizing multiple operating systems, as block storage objects can be accessed seamlessly across different OS platforms. Moreover, if your business employs a RAID array, block storage is the recommended storage method.
In terms of web and cloud applications, block storage is particularly advantageous for web applications that involve server-side processing using languages like Java, PHP, or .NET. Additionally, block storage finds utility in applications such as Microsoft SharePoint.
How Utilizing Both a CDN and the Proper Storage System Benefits Your Business
Combining a CDN and appropriate storage techniques can greatly enhance business efficiency and lower cloud expenses. Let’s consider a scenario involving a healthcare company that operates a web application for user access. The public-facing HTML pages, providing company information and portal access, are hosted on a cloud provider using file storage. These pages are cached on a CDN. For the client portal, which requires a web application and database, block storage is utilized. Additionally, long-term storage of health record archives, which must be retained for years, is achieved through private object storage. Staff members can access these records using an internal search database. By employing this comprehensive approach, the company can optimize performance and cost-effectiveness.
How ZebraHost can Help
ZebraHost has established partnerships with multiple storage providers, enabling us to offer tailored cloud storage solutions that align with your business needs. Our expertise lies in assisting independent application developers in optimizing and hosting their applications in the cloud.
When it comes to CDN services, we collaborate with leading vendors such as CloudFlare and KeyCDN. Through these partnerships, we empower our clients to distribute their websites or applications seamlessly across a global network, enhancing performance and user experience.