Contentful: The Importance of Using a CDN

Thought Leadership

By Iñaki Barturen | July 28, 2021
Illustration of a man looking at the components of a webpage

Contentful is a content management platform that makes it easy to update content across your website, apps, and digital channels. As a polyglot technology, it supports multiple programming languages, and offers a ton of flexibility for content modules you can create and update.

When it comes to delivering an overall peak experience, there are a few elements at the core of Contentful’s platform that make this possible. In this article, we’ll examine a key element that underlies Contentful’s ease of use: its integrated content distribution API and Content Delivery Network (CDN).

This infrastructure makes it possible to deliver content to any device, anywhere, at any time. Using a CDN — rather than a conventional server for content distribution — improves site speed, security, and offers benefits for ranking on search engines. Let’s look a bit closer to explore what a CDN is and its advantages.

What is a Content Delivery Network?

A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, is a network of nodes that host and distribute content across sites and applications. This interconnected system sends the content when various devices request it through an API call.

The distinguishing feature of this type of system is that the various nodes act as servers that sit in different geographic locations. These nodes, or points of presence (POPs), enable fast and efficient content delivery. To visualize how a CDN operates, let’s use countries as an example, imagining how information moves. Let’s say there is content stored in Tokyo and Medellín, available in both places. If a request for this data comes in from Chile, it will be sent from the node in Medellín since it’s the closest location to the request.

This network approach reduces the latency you would typically experience when using a conventional server. For example, regardless of where the call is made, data from a conventional server must travel the entire distance from the server to the call point.

Using a CDN not only improves the speed of data exchange, but allows for better load distribution. When thousands (or millions) of requests are being processed, the content can be sent from different locations (ideally the closest). This minimizes server overload, reduces downtime, and better manages the delivery when there are many concurrent users.

Benefits of using a CDN

The underlying feature of a CDN is that data can be cached on server nodes that are closest to the user. This makes content delivery fast, improving overall site performance and experience.

Let’s break down a few of the benefits of using a CDN:

1. Better content availability

Content distribution networks are constantly updating stored information, removing what is obsolete, and loading new data added by the development teams. This ensures that only the most up-to-date content is delivered, without the need to reload the entire site each time.

As a result, CDNs considerably reduce loading latency for sites, and increase your chances of ranking on search engines. Your content blocks, elements, and functionality all operate with lightweight processing, which make these benefits possible.

2. Improved security: site and company-wide

Using CDN technology is a key element in enabling a headless approach to your infrastructure since it reduces complexity in the backend. Data is stored in a content repository, and as Contentful distributes it to various users, the data is accessible as many times as necessary.

Operating with this approach helps reduce the touch points that the data interacts with, improving your overall infrastructure security. This means that as the data moves there is no direct access path to your infrastructure. Since the platforms leverage APIs, you can send and receive specific information without requiring further code or access routes.

Because of a CDN’s interconnected servers, it also considerably reduces the effects of a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service). This happens when your site exceeds its bandwidth limit from multiple —sometimes thousands— simultaneous calls for data. In this case, if one of the CDN servers is overloaded, your network will still have all remaining POPs to continue operating.

3. Peace of mind

Contentful takes content distribution a step further through its smart, headless CMS. Not only does it use a CDN for distribution, but it also uses two different providers to diversify and reduce risk: Fastly for JSON document distribution, and CloudFront for media content and binary files.

Diversifying in this way makes you better prepared in the event of an attack or a sudden increase in requests on your digital channels. By using a CDN-enabled platform like Contentful, you can have peace of mind that your infrastructure is prepared for unexpected future events.

At Apply Digital, we enjoy demonstrating how clients can better future-proof their business and develop omnichannel strategies through platforms like Contentful. If you would like support with your website or app launch, please reach out to someone on our team to discuss how we can help.