Blog / What is a Global Accelerator and how does it differ from a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

What is a Global Accelerator and how does it differ from a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

Chances are that you came across this particular Global Accelerator when researching ways to improve web performance and thus, naturally also come across Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) - both of which are offered by multiple Tier 1 Cloud providers. 

In this article we’ll cover -

• Quick recap: What is a CDN?

• What is a Global Accelerator product?

• Similarities & differences between CDNs vs. Global Accelerator Products

What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

A CDN is also known as a content distribution network created by a series of geographically distributed network of proxy servers and data centres.

Its primary objective is to improve web performance by delivering content closer to the end user to reduce latency and provide high deliverability. Besides improving Web Performance and improving site speed, CDNs are designed to help -

Contribute to Cost Savings by Reducing Bandwidth.

Enable advanced website security services

Reduce packet loss

Lower network latency and more...

What are Global Accelerator products?

Global Accelerator products are a network acceleration services that re-routes traffic to the most optimal endpoint within that Cloud provider's network in the closest available region to the user.

Primary use cases include business applications or gaming platforms that may have distributed hosting with requirements for low-latency and edge location routing.

Using the loose analogy of a car. If CDNs were considered a short-cut to your destination, Global Accelerators can be considered to be smart directions to the best available route. 

Content Delivery Network (CDN) vs. Global Accelerators Products:

Key Similarities

Their primary objective is to reduce latency

They are products related to improving web performance

They can be integrated with DDoS Protection Services

They services do not include optimising blocked or incompatible resources on the Application Layer 

Key Differences

1. Use Case

CDN are primarily used to deliver static assets - such as videos, files, and images - faster to your end users with lower latency. Take for example, if your website has a number of images and videos. As it is highly inefficient to serve these assets uniquely for every user (think high bandwidth, longer buffering, high CPU and slower delivery times), CDNs help to cache, then serve these assets to your visitors from the closest possible point-of-presence (PoP).

Global Accelerators primarily are used for distributed internet applications (e.g. a banking application scattered via multiple regions). Global Accelerators then routes users to the nearest location, then to the nearest regional endpoint where applications are hosted.

CDNs shorten the distance. Global accelerators don’t ‘shorten’ the distance’ but help you pick the best possible route available.

2. Supported Protocols.

CDNs only support HTTP. Global Accelerator accepts other non-HTTP protocols (e.g. P2P games, a new custom protocol).

3. IPs

The number of IPs used in a CDN differ between different cloud providers. For example, Google Cloud and Cloudflare provides fixed AnyCast IP as fixed entry points for your applications, while others like Cloudfront use multiple dynamic IP for different regions.

Global Accelerators always provide you with a set of static IP addresses as fixed entry points for your applications.

4. Pricing & Overage model

CDN pricing is primarily based on total HTTP requests and data transferred out. Global Accelerators primarily charges a fixed hourly fee and additional charges on Data Transfer rates. 

*Keep in mind Chinafy’s product which de facto includes a CDN stack already packages a certain amount of near-China CDN usage in each plan. Learn more about the key differences between Chinafy and CDNs here.

Want to learn more about Web Performance products? Read on about how CDNs and Global Accelerators fit into your tech stack, their benefits, and their limitations.

Not sure whether to use Global Accelerator, CDN product, or both? Get in touch with the Get Started form to find out how Chinafy can help you achieve a faster, more effective website in China.

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