How to Build a CDN: Create your Own CDN for Improved Flexibility


By Ann Oliver

To speed up your website, implementing a CDN is the best choice. It’s a network of servers that boosts content delivery by reducing latency. It delivers content from the nearest server, improving load times.

There are many quality CDNs available, but needs and budgets vary. While you can outsource the entire service, have you ever wondered how to build a CDN to match your specific requirements and enjoy more flexibility and scalability?

To help you throughout the process, I am offering a brief overview of how you can build a CDN.

How Does a CDN Work

Let’s describe the working process of CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) in a nutshell. As I have already mentioned, CDNs deliver static content (images, videos, JavaScript, HTML files) (sometimes dynamic) of a website from the server in proximity to a user upon receiving a request.

  • It stores content on edge servers before or when requested, speeding up delivery.
  • Once the CDN gets a content request, it promptly delivers that content from the nearest CDN server available to the requested user. 
  • The origin server hosts the site and delivers content from a single server. So the request has to cross a longer distance than a CDN.
  • The less distance the request has to cross, the less time it takes to deliver content. 
  • Hence it takes less time for the CDN service to deliver content than the origin server. 

When You Need Your Own CDN

Are you wondering whether you should go with commercial CDNs or build your own one? Let’s get insight into the circumstances that indicate you need your own CDN:

  • If you’re on a tight budget but need optimal performance, a private CDN is a cost-effective solution.
  • Do you require full control over your website content, ensuring top-notch security? Build your own CDN instead of using a traditional one that can induce compliance and security issues. 
  • A private CDN is good for guaranteed bandwidth and lasting cache.
  • You can accelerate your dynamic content delivery with your private CDN system.
  • Using a CDN provider limits control over the network and might not cover all target regions. When you have your own CDN, you can configure the CDN network better and serve the visitors better. 

How to Build a CDN

Now that you have decided to integrate a self-managed private CDN with your website, let’s get an in-depth overview of how to build a CDN.

Creating a CDN requires you to follow the following three steps:

  • Build the CDN with either physical machines or cloud instances.
  • Employ Isps and routing principles
  • Origin server and PoPs configuration

Let’s get into the details:

On-premises or Cloud: Choose the Best One

which would be the most viable solution for deploying your CDN, cloud instances, or physical machines? Don’t fret, as you also have the option to use cloud instances for some portion of your private CDN and on-premises for others!

Take the following factors into account and make the best deployment decision:

  • If you intend to go with a cloud infrastructure, evaluate if the provider you are considering has all the required setup, machines, and data centers to serve your content available in your target location. 
  • Decide which is better for you: on-premises or public cloud setup.
  • Evaluate which one would be cheaper for you based on your traffic load/second. Would it be viable for you to hire IT professionals to handle the architecture, or can you depend on Logging as a Service (LAAS)?
  • Choose the best setup: hybrid, on-premises, or public cloud, that will make your system more scalable.
  • Consider each option’s security features and vulnerabilities.

Pick the Right ISPs and Routing 

Now that you have selected the deployment system, the time has come to implement ISPs and routing principles to point the requests your site receives to the PoPs nearest to the visitors. 

While executing this step, keep an expert eye on the following points:

  • Make sure your ISP(s) cover your target location(s).
  • Make sure your ISP is always up.
  • Cost is a key factor in picking an ISP.
  • Make sure your ISPs can cope with rapid traffic shifts. 

Origin server and PoPs configuration

While selecting the origin server to host your website, you would choose a provider close to you, right? When it comes to the point of PoPs (Points of Presence), you need to be thoughtful and place them in your target locations based on the following factors:

  • Evaluate in which region you want your website or business to flourish and place the PoPs accordingly.
  • Count on the latency between your site visitors and hosting server while placing the PoPs.
  • Evaluate your website traffic pattern to ensure your users enjoy top-notch browsing, and your infrastructure works optimally. 

Besides these core steps, you must get a quality DNS service and security certificates for all PoPs and ensure a robust content distribution system setup (to ensure all PoPs house the same content).

Benefits of Traditional CDN

Though few, a traditional CDN has some advantages over a private CDN. Some of them are:

  • Commercial CDNs are more effortless to deploy, set up, and integrate with your website than a private one.
  • Unless you opt for cloud instances, you require your own infrastructure to deploy your own CDN (a costly process). On the other hand, a commercial CDN comes with the software and required infrastructure.