Delivery in milliseconds with Verizon Digital Media Services’ Super PoP architecture

Frank OBy Frank Orozco, Chief CDN Technology & Products Officer

The success or failure of a website today comes down to a matter of milliseconds. A mobile website must load under 200 milliseconds to meet Google’s standards for search. When every fraction of a second equates to revenue, it’s up to content delivery networks (CDNs) to bring their services up to speed. This is why Verizon Digital Media Services invested significant time and resources into refining our Super PoP (points of presence) architecture. Combined with our Layer 7 awareness, our Super PoP architecture focus on expansive server caching and edge computing delivers high performance by shaving milliseconds in ways that you might not expect.

Super PoP architecture means quality, not quantity

When it comes to data centers, having more is not necessarily better. An ordinary PoP may only have a few small server boxes and minimal storage. Since they are simple to set up, some CDNs boast of having thousands of them.

By comparison, our Edgecast CDN, has a Super PoP architecture of just 125 . The difference is that none of these data centers are your average PoP. They’ve been placed directly near primary internet exchange points with the best transit and peering providers. They’re also stocked with massive amounts of caching power – up to multiple petabytes of storage in each PoP, compared to one-tenth of a petabyte in a regular PoP. That’s what makes our PoP architecture Super.

For example, consider a user streaming a TV show in Chicago. The user clicks on an episode she wants to watch, and this request routes to the nearest PoP. If a regular PoP receives the request and doesn’t have the episode cached, it will then need to make a subsequent request to the TV network’s servers that may be in a faraway city like Los Angeles or San Jose. This is called a cache miss, when the PoP doesn’t have the episode in cache and has to make a request of its own.

However, let’s say her request goes to our Edgecast CDN PoP in Chicago. Our Super PoP architecture includes at least 2 petabytes of storage – that’s enough to hold almost 7 years of continuous HD video. It’s extremely likely that it already has the requested episode – a cache hit – and can send it to the user immediately.

There are other CDNs out there that use a Super PoP architecture. What makes our Super PoP architecture special, however, is our Edgecast CDN’s Layer 7 load balancing. Each Super PoP is Layer 7 aware, which means it can terminate a TLS connection, inspect the individual assets being requested and delivered from any PoP in our Super PoP architecture, and refine its caching footprint to match. The result is a PoP architecture that has, on average, a 95 percent cache hit ratio. It’s this combination of Super PoP architecture with proprietary technology that regularly puts our Edgecast CDN at the top of Cedexis’ CDN rankings.

The future of CDNs: Computing at the edge

A Super PoP architecture not only bring storage power closer to the user – they bring compute power closer. This process, called Edge Computing, reduces latency by significantly shortening the round trip between the user and the origin of the user’s requested data. Because our Super PoP architecture maintains so much independent computing power, every PoP is able to scale horizontally with workload. With that scale comes enormous resiliency, as larger PoPs are less likely to fail under load.

That resiliency, along with the low latency signaled by our Cedexis rankings, is what the infrastructure of tomorrow demands. The ability to cache smartly and reduce round trip times is helpful for users on desktop and mobile devices, but will become vital for augmented reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Today our rapidfire response rate is a great advantage; in the era of self-driving cars, which must perform complex artificial intelligence processing with low latency, it will be absolutely necessary.

Having thousands of PoPs may sound impressive, but it won’t prevent cache misses today or support the AR and IoT technologies of tomorrow. To ensure high performance and high quality long into the future, a Super PoP architecture is the answer.

The faster your site performs, the more satisfied your users are. Our Edgecast CDN outperforms legacy CDNs in speed and reliability. Take our free performance analysis test today to see how your website stacks up.