Gone are the days when you could entice or lure users into making a purchase or subscribing to a service simply by providing them with static or one-size-fits-all content. Users nowadays expect smart, prompt and reliable content.
They require personalised content that is tailored to their preferences, choices and previous purchases. For this reason, an increasing number of businesses are embracing a dynamic content delivery approach or CDN acceleration.
In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that dynamic content acceleration has indeed become a primary requirement for today's users. People expect websites, particularly E-commerce sites, to remember their preferences, track their site journey and recommend tailor-made products based on that information.
However, providing fast dynamic content is a more complex and difficult feat than traditional edge caching. It comes with its own set of challenges, such as:
This is where dynamic CDN acceleration comes into play. Given the need and importance of Dynamic Site Acceleration, most of the leading CDN (Content Delivery Network) acceleration providers, including Tata Communications, Akamai, Limelight, Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront and Cotendo, have started offering dynamic content acceleration services to their clients in order to assist them in addressing these challenges.
For the uninitiated, a CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is simply a geographically distributed network of proxy servers that work together to provide fast internet content delivery. In other words, Content Delivery Network providers offer high-availability content to end-users via a globally distributed network of servers deployed across multiple data centres.
It is important to note that digital content can range from web objects (text, graphics and scripts) to downloadable objects (media files, documents and software), as well as applications such as E-commerce portals, social media sites and live streaming media.
Simply put, Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA) or Dynamic Content Acceleration (DCA) is a mechanism that aims to improve the performance of dynamic websites by caching unique and dynamic content faster and ensuring its availability to end-users. The ultimate goal of this process is to provide improved reliability, offloading and network performance over web infrastructure without the need for additional hardware.
Typically, dynamic web acceleration services are offered by CDN acceleration providers with the goal of enabling organisations to quickly and reliably deliver dynamic content from their centralised architecture or servers to end-users all over the world.
Dynamic Site Acceleration (DSA) differs from traditional approaches in which CDNs are used to improve performance by caching critical content closer to end-users. However, over a period of time, this technique became obsolete and the need for a new technique suitable for SaaS and enterprise applications (B2B and B2C) surfaced.
Fortunately, Dynamic Content Acceleration has effectively addressed this issue to a large extent. This new approach replaced traditional data caching with several other techniques to deliver online content quickly, resulting in increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction and a satisfactory user experience.
Different CDN acceleration providers employ different techniques to accelerate dynamic websites, including:
Let's take a quick look at each of these technologies and how they work in the following section.
Some of the most common Dynamic Site Acceleration techniques are as follows:
As we know, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) plays a major role in data transition over a network. Therefore, by optimising TCP, we can also improve data transmission performance and so does the dynamic content acceleration.
Furthermore, there are multiple TCP optimization techniques that CDN acceleration providers use. Among them are preserving available bandwidth, pre-acknowledging data, managing packet loss and TCP multiplexing, to name a few.
As the name implies, route optimization is a technique for optimising the content delivery route between clients and servers. This technique, also known as latency-based routing, aims to reduce latency.
In this approach, all possible paths between the client and the servers are measured and the fastest path is chosen. This path is then registered and used whenever a client makes a request. Ideal dynamic content acceleration is the one that optimises all route components, including the first mile, middle mile and last mile.
In this dynamic web acceleration approach, CDN acceleration providers will maintain persistently and optimised connections between content origin servers and edge servers, as well as among the edge servers.
Instead of establishing a new connection for each request, the emphasis is on maintaining a steady connection between the servers, thereby minimising latency. This method can significantly improve content delivery between servers since it eliminates the time spent establishing new connections with each request.
Prefetching, as the name suggests, is a dynamic content acceleration technique that prefetches content before it is requested by the user in order to reduce waiting time and improve user experience. Using this approach, browsers silently fetch and store the necessary or possible objects that a user might access in the near future.
All of the prefetching approaches developed or employed by CDN acceleration providers so far assume the existence of adequate content popularity statistics to drive the prefetch decision. Prefetching differs from caching, in a way that it only uses prefetched responses once.
Another dynamic web acceleration technique used by multiple CDN acceleration providers is on-the-fly compression. In this approach, the client requests files individually, which are then transferred from the server to the destination via a compressed stream.
The key advantage of this technique is that only the files requested by the client are transferred and they arrive in the same order as requested. This dynamic content acceleration method also has a higher degree of compression than the traditional method, which compresses each file individually.
SSL offload is a mechanism designed to reduce page load time at critical points. SSL offloading removes the encryption from incoming traffic that the web server has added to secure data transmission. SSL offloading occurs on a separate device, so it does not affect the performance of the web server.
CDNs that provide SSL offloading services are often more involved with speeding up critical transactions by offloading the SSL encryption or decryption process to another machine or device, allowing the origin server to perform critical calculations and transactions more quickly.
Full-page caching is a Dynamic Site Acceleration technique that content delivery networks– CDN acceleration providers use to improve response time and reduce server load. Using this technique, websites will be able to display an entire page quickly. This method uses cached content to process the requests of diverse visitors. For this reason, it is possible that the page displayed to a new visitor differs from the one displayed to repeat visitors.
These are the key dynamic content acceleration techniques used by content delivery networks (CDNs) to accelerate dynamic content to provide faster search results, improve performance and enhance user experience.
With the introduction of advanced technologies and broadband expansion, the bar for online user experience has been significantly raised to new heights. When it comes to page load time, every second counts– quite literally and can cost you hundreds of dollars. However, with dynamic content acceleration– a modern content delivery approach– you can address these challenges, improve data response time and provide a reliable and personalised user experience.