By Tony Ferrari, Sr., Product Manager, CDN Analytics
Online businesses live or die by their analytics. The ability to look under the hood of your website to learn where your customers are, what products they’re most interested in, and how they interact with the site is invaluable. Without up-to-the-minute analytics, you’re flying blind.
In many ways, running a successful website is a matter of differentiating between raw data and crucial, actionable insights. You must both ask the right questions and have the right analytics at hand to answer them so you can make intelligent decisions. In the past, businesses seeking the advantages offered by content delivery networks (CDN) have often felt they had to sacrifice real-time analytics for website speed and security. Fortunately, the days of compromise are coming to an end.
While analytics are vitally important to online businesses, so is performance and security. The need for these latter qualities has driven many businesses to use a CDN to route their website content. CDNs offer superior load times and reliability since hosting is geographically distributed across multiple servers. This way, even if one server experiences a problem, the others can pick up the slack and ensure a seamless customer experience. CDNs also protect against DDoS attacks, which are increasingly common and can cause significant slowdowns or even site outages.
A drawback of CDNs has been a lack of analytics. When a website is positioned behind a CDN, it proxies all user traffic, so the only user information that the customer can directly gather data on is the CDN itself. In the past, website owners who wanted to access their data had to log into their CDN portal to download user logs every few hours, or even once per day. This lack of real-time analytics is no longer acceptable in an eCommerce climate where competitive advantages are measured by the second.
The pitfalls of delayed analytics are easy to see. Imagine your site experiences an outage on Black Friday and you don’t find out until Monday. It’s a catastrophic loss of both revenue and customer trust that you can never get back. By the same token, if your site experiences a sudden spike in traffic from a certain geographic region, you should know about it in order to capitalize on the trend and focus resources to that area.
Welcome to the new, faster era of data capture. CDNs are rolling out Real-Time Log Delivery (RTLD), giving website owners nearly instant insights into their operations. With RTLD, website owners can choose which metrics are most relevant to their business from dozens of data fields, and start building a comprehensive picture of their user profiles and website performance. RTLD automatically alerts website owners when there is a spike in errors, so if you update your page at 5:00 p.m., you won’t have to wait until 9:00 a.m. the next day to know that something has gone wrong.
While multiple CDNs now offer RTLD, Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) has several unique advantages. First, we have the fastest log delivery in the industry: less than 60 seconds from a user request to logs arriving at the endpoint of your choice. In addition, our RTLD only charges websites for the amount of data they use, so if your website has less traffic and fewer logs to deliver, you pay less; by contrast, most competitors only offer a flat rate regardless of how much or how little traffic they experience. There is no setup fee or minimum usage requirement, and set-up is an easy process of deciding what information is most valuable to your business.
The bottom line: RTLD finally combines the speed and security of CDNs with the crucial insights of analytics, creating the gold standard for online businesses that want to use data to grow their business. We’re excited to put this technology in the hands of our customers, empowering them with the speed and data they need to make better decisions that help them stay competitive.