DECENT 101: Can CDNs Empower Blockchain Speeds and Storage?

May 24, 2019

Welcome back to DECENT 101 – the series that exposes the wonders only blockchain can offer.

In our previous DECENT 101 article, we established a primary connection between blockchain and a file-sharing system named IPFS. We learned that we can think of IPFS as an “enhanced HTTP” – a peer-to-peer (P2P) system with upgraded security and high-speed transfers of large files.

Although the concept of sharing through IPFS is innovative in its essence – and our DCore platform even utilizes IPFS throughout our seeder network and the reward system – its current technical architecture is unable to secure a persistent basis when it comes to content distribution.

That is why today we’re delving into why content distribution/delivery networks (known as CDN) are more prevalent in the industry as opposed to IPFS, what real contributions come from their usage and how users can benefit from utilizing a CDN.

Debunking the Correlation Between CDN & IPFS

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In spite of huge benefits like high throughput, low latency, and smooth distribution of large files, IPFS can be hampered by certain insufficiencies. Even though P2P and CDN networks may be intertwined by some similarities, in terms of user experience, one serves the purpose much more effectively.

A content distribution network represents a congregation of geographically dispersed servers that together form a “cloud” which provides end users with content. Each of these servers is called a node, caching static content like files, images, audio files, etc. To characterize it in a non-technical manner, it’s a group of servers that store files, enabling users to download them via a CDN-based website to their devices at any time, anywhere, with increased security and speed.

From the looks of it, the core idea between both file-sharing systems is more-or-less similar. Where does the problem with IPFS lie, then? The simple explanation would point towards IPFS using the P2P network. Intrinsically, a decentralized system like a P2P network represents the exchange of data between nodes who have coinciding roles in communication – meaning that every peer is both server and client.

End users, however, require consistent access to files they want to download or stream, like games, apps, videos, and music. The sole reason of IPFS being based on a P2P system makes it hard to pull off constant speeds for all users who want to access certain content right away. What’s more is that the fundamental idea behind IPFS does not involve an SOA (service-oriented architecture) which CDN, in comparison, carries. This helps to connect the two most essential elements when it comes to content distribution – service provider and service consumer.

Take, for example, ALAX, our blockchain-based mobile game distribution platform. The platform needs to provide its users with instant access to thousands of games. How do we achieve this? By utilizing DCore’s ability to efficiently employ a CDN, ALAX’s users can enjoy constant speeds secured by consistent, geographically dispersed servers that are selected to match the end user’s nearest location. This is, unfortunately, what IPFS lacks when it comes to providing a ready-made content distribution service.

 

CDN vs. Traditional Web Hosting

You might be asking yourself: “What upper hand will the use of a content distribution network give me as a service provider?” There are a few aspects that can make CDN the ultimate choice for your content distribution needs. Here are a few:

Geographical Efficiency & Perpetual Speed

Besides higher availability, CDN can take a load off your network thanks to its geographical dispersity. With servers being strategically placed around the world, CDN matches the server with stored content to the end user’s nearest location. This makes for consistent and ample speed when it comes to movie streaming via Netflix or Amazon Prime, downloading games from digital distribution platforms like Origin and Epic Games Store, or even music-streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes. Yes, all these big names use CDN nowadays, as it’s the most efficient and reliable option out there.

Consistency in Availability & Search Ranking Boost

The aspect of availability in a CDN is represented by its constant up-time. Has one of your servers gone down? No worries, the fact that all the other servers inside your CDN are always running, even if there is a single point of “failure”, makes for your website content to be available at all times. While a situation like this may result in a temporarily throttled speed on the user’s end, you’ll still be able to provide your users with the requested content. This means that in comparison to traditional web hosting, which hosts all the data on a single server, CDN provides a convenient method of distributing content among multiple servers.

And what’s even better is that CDN benefits from an enhanced SEO in Google’s rankings, which is always a good thing when it comes to promoting your website.

Storage & Security

CDNs offer a storage capacity which is backed up by different layers of security – and it’s even better with blockchain. Thanks to CDN servers being dispersed location-wise, the content available publicly on these servers have a very low risk of outside interference. Combined with blockchain’s immutability, files are stored securely without the need to worry about any third-party tampering.

Points to Consider with CDN

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To set the record straight, both IPFS and CDN undoubtedly have their ups and downs (technology and price-wise). The naked truth might be, however, that CDN does come in more useful to businesses and individuals who require a stable availability of content for their users.

Now, where does CDN ultimately find its place when it comes to usage? The potential for use cases is limitless, and its utilization is seen among even the most prominent companies, as mentioned above. Here comes the ultimate question: Why would you need a CDN? Try asking yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Does my website load quickly enough?
  2. If my server goes down, will my website go down as well?
  3. Can I provide my users with a constant speed when providing content?
  4. Is my webpage growing too rapidly, maybe even internationally?
  5. Are my webpage analytics sufficient?

If these are the mind-boggling issues you’re currently dealing with, it might be high time to switch to CDN – and thankfully enough, CDNs are becoming easier and easier to implement.

If you’re interested in setting up your own CDN, we’ll be more than happy to give you the upper hand. Our DCore blockchain technology utilizes a native integration of CDN – fortified by DCore’s incredible speeds, scalability and security.

Give us a holler through one of our social media channels or join us on Telegram to speak directly to a team member, and we’ll be glad to realize your dreams of a better online experience for your users.