In this article, we delve into the basics of Cloudflare and Akamai, compare their features, and how we can optimise both CDNs for China.
Cloudflare is a renowned CDN service provider globally, offering a suite of services, including DDoS protection, web security, and content delivery. In China, Cloudflare has a presence with data centers strategically located to optimize content delivery for users within the country. Its network spans across mainland China, providing businesses with the ability to accelerate website loading times and enhance security.
Global Reach: Cloudflare has data centers in 310 cities and 120+ countries, with each data center hosting multiple Points of Presence (PoPs). Its global network edge capacity spans 228 Terabits per second (Tbps), comprising of diverse transit connections, peering and private network interconnects.Cloudflare is also connected with over 13,000 major service providers to provide accelerated cloud access.
Web Security: Cloudflare provides robust security features, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection on the network and applicable layers in the OSI model. It also offers a Web Application Firewall (WAF) capable of enforcing custom rules to safeguard against various threats.
Performance Optimization: Cloudflare enhances website performance through a comprehensive suite of features designed to optimize user experiences globally. Browser Insights provides metrics such as TCP connection time, DNS response time, Time to First Byte (TTFB), and page load time, Additionally, Cloudflare's Image Optimization algorithms offer versatile solutions, including Image Resizing for generating tailored image variants, Mirage for streamlined mobile image delivery, and Polish for simple yet effective image compression.
Akamai, a pioneer in the CDN industry, has a significant presence in China, delivering content through its distributed network of servers. Akamai focuses on providing businesses with a reliable and secure platform for content delivery, ensuring a seamless experience for users.
Global Server Network: Akamai's vast network, with over 4,100 edge Points of Presence (PoPs) across 131 countries, This strategic expansion reflects Akamai's dedication to a decentralized cloud architecture, prioritizing low-latency delivery to users globally. The incorporation of these new regions follows Akamai's acquisition of Linode in 2022.
Security Solutions: Akamai offers a Managed Security Service which integrates proactive monitoring, fast incident response, periodic tuning, and dedicated security experts.This provides organizations with a scalable defense mechanism capable of thwarting even the most sophisticated cyberattacks.
Predictive Content Delivery: Designed specifically to address the requirements of content providers, video platform providers and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), this solution. minimises the cost of downloads by enabling mobile devices to predictively fetch and cache content retrieved from catalogs maintained by Akamai servers.
Let's break down the key features of Cloudflare and Akamai, highlighting their similarities and differences:
Differentiating Cloudflare and Akamai’s Global CDNs versus its China counterpart is crucial.
While both are linked to enhancing website performance, they vary in their prerequisites and the teams that manage them.
Cloudflare CDN offers a comprehensive content delivery network solution with a global reach, focusing on improving website performance, enhancing security, and providing a range of services worldwide.
In contrast, Cloudflare China CDN is tailored specifically for the Chinese market.
Cloudflare China CDN has partnered with JD Cloud to grow their network in China which presently has 45 data centers spread across about 30 different cities. Some of the added services include In-country DNS resolution, DDoS mitigation, Web Application Firewall (WAF), and Serverless computing.
Similarly, Akamai CDN and Akamai China CDN serve distinct purposes. Akamai CDN is a global content delivery network designed to optimize content delivery, reduce latency, and enhance security on a global scale.
Akamai China CDN, on the other hand, is a specialized version addressing the complexities in China.
Akamai China CDN is an add-on module enabled through a collaboration with China Telecom and China Unicom Cloud. It features products such as Dynamic Site Accelerator, Rich Media Accelerator, and Adaptive Media Delivery.
Both Cloudflare and Akamai China CDNs enhance performance and security for websites.
However, similar to most CDNs, it does not address resource compatibility issues in the applicable layer.
The code-based issues that we are referring to involve technologies that are blocked or slow to load in China, many of which include essential libraries widely adopted by developers globally.
Every websites consist of up to hundreds of resources, many of which are third-party resources that are blocked (i.e. Google APIs, Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook, etc.) with others, including primary and/or third-party resources, that are delivered from slow networks (i.e. Amazon S3).
Relying on a CDN alone will still result in a broken website, albeit one that is faster.
It’s clear that Cloudflare and Akamai CDN offer many great features, except one: third party resource, code-based optimization for China.
Chinafy is the only China web compatibility solution that identifies, modifies, and substitutes incompatible resources to ensure they load quickly and completely in China. It also identifies slow resources and accelerates them as needed.
This is why most Chinafy users come even after adding a CDN onto their website and vice versa.
Chinafy isn't a CDN itself, but includes a fully-managed, China-friendly CDNs - onshore or offshore* - to achieve accelerated content delivery.
* Prerequisites must be met for use of different CDN platforms.
Taking speed into consideration, not all servers, and consequently, content delivery networks (CDNs), possess the capability to deliver content in China with the same level of efficiency as they do in other regions.
*Chinafy illustrated below includes Chinafy’s proprietary web resource optimisation suite plus a CDN. In some occasions, this includes Cloudflare or Akamai.
Comparing a stack with Chinafy added in addition to a CDN vs Cloudflare and Akamai CDNs alone, the stack with both Chinafy and its-fully managed CDN demonstrates the fastest response time, boasting approximately 52 milliseconds with most data points in the 5th percentile, whereas Cloudflare CDN alone records 543 milliseconds and Akamai CDN alone 856 milliseconds.
How Chinafy works:
Chinafy produces a 'China-specific' version of your site using the publicly accessible HTML, CSS, and JS of your original site. This mirrored version is then handled and modified by Chinafy, ensuring that your original site and its SEO remain unaffected.
Chinafy's Smart Actions employs rule-based optimization to address approximately 75% of the most blocked or slow resources. It replaces them with Chinese equivalents or removes those that are blocked without a China-replacement, ensuring these incompatibilities don't impact the functionality of the rest of the website.
Chinafy then automatically adds China-friendly infrastructure for your Chinafy site. This includes hosting, load balancers and content delivery networks (CDNs) near China
The Chinafy version automatically syncs with your original site, ensuring that any changes are processed and reflected accordingly. Enterprise Chinafy users also benefit from ongoing change management.
Check out “CDN or Chinafy? Which One Do You Need?”
With Chinafy, websites are 30%-40% faster compared to using CDNs near China alone, as it addresses resource compatibility issues that impact the loading process.
Below are some real-world examples.
ITMA, organized by CEMATEX, is a leading global exhibition for textile and garment technology. Held every four years, it showcases the latest industry advancements with a reach that extends into China.
Challenge: The ITMA website, created with Kentico and Cloudflare CDN, serves as a virtual hub for events.
Before using Chinafy, it took over 47.3 seconds to load in China, a common issue for many global websites due to infrastructure and code-related problems.
Additionally, the site uses YouTube for managing 200+ videos, none of which display in China.
Results: The Fully Load times before and after using Chinafy are in below:
Before Chinafy: 47.3 seconds, up to 70 seconds
After Chinafy: 15 seconds (the global original baseline is 14.8 seconds)*
Chinafy also converted video content, including YouTube videos, into versions compatible with China and optimized with Cloudflare CDN.
The same goes for Akamai CDN users (more on this below).
Banyan Tree is a Singapore-based hospitality brand overseeing resorts, hotels, and spas across Asia, America, Africa, and the Middle East.
Challenge: Banyan Tree websites are hosted onshore and utilize Akamai CDN for content delivery. However, the website still faced slow loading times in China, exceeding 40 seconds.
Results: With Chinafy, Banyan Tree's website now loads 4.5x faster.
Before Chinafy: 39.7 seconds
After Chinafy: 8.7 seconds
Ready to optimize your website for China? Click Get Started to evaluate your website with Chinafy.