Logic dictates that the more servers a company has, the more responsive their service will be. However, this isn’t always the case. When designing a content delivery network (CDN), companies need to consider their requirements. These requirements include content type, regions served, and the function of their edge PoP (points of presence) data centers.

If more doesn’t always equal better, how can you decide the number of CDN PoPs your business should have? We’ll look at a couple of factors that will help you make an informed decision.

With CDN PoPs, More Is Better… Sometimes

Before asking how many CDN PoPs you should have, you’ll want to consider the purpose of your data centers. For example, are they caching servers? In this case, fewer, high-capacity data centers will likely serve you better because of the way cache servers work. Let me explain.

When a user tries to access content, it is routed to a CDN PoP. If it’s the first time this data is being requested, the request has to be routed to the origin server — adding to the latency of the task. In a setup with many, smaller CDN PoPs, the frequency of first-time requests is much higher, which results in higher latency and negates the benefits of multiple CDN PoPs.

Another case for fewer, larger CDN PoPs is their capacity to store data. In a smaller data center, they’ll have less storage space to cache data, and therefore, can’t serve all the content requests. In contrast, a larger data center will likely be able to cache everything the regional user is looking for. When you combine the latency of first-time requests with the capacity of larger CDN PoPs, it becomes clear why using fewer, high-capacity CDN PoPs is a better strategy.

However, this changes when you consider content transmitted in real-time, like live sporting events and gaming data. In this case, users are sending and receiving data that is created in real-time, so they wouldn’t benefit from the speed of cached content. Instead, the main contributor to latency would be distance.

In the case of real-time streaming, the audience is typically smaller and less consistent. Therefore, content providers might try a different approach, possibly leveraging smaller edge nodes instead of creating more CDN PoPs. This approach gives them the flexibility of placing more computing power near users to ensure performance doesn’t falter while controlling the costs associated with larger data centers.

Build Your Infrastructure for Maximum Impact

CDN infrastructure is a major investment. So, you want to maximize the value of your hardware. To do so, you’ll have to make infrastructure choices that align with your company’s current and future hardware needs. For example, designing modular infrastructure will help you easily replicate, upgrade, and deploy CDN PoP and edge node hardware as needed.

Our team can help you design hardware that fits your exact needs. We can make custom configurations early in the manufacturing process, allowing you to design precision components. Additionally, we support you during every stage of the hardware lifecycle so that you have a partner every step of the way. If you want to build edge infrastructure that makes an impact, let’s talk.

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