There are three key elements that are important when finding a host for your business website: speed, security and scalability. A fast website can boost search engine ranking, improve traffic and increase site retention. Meanwhile, enhanced security guarantees peace of mind for your and your customers. Additionally, scalability affords you the tools to grow with few constraints.
Cloudflare can give you all three of these elements. But what exactly is it, and how can the CDN boost speed, security, and scalability? Let’s find out.
WHAT IS CLOUDFLARE?
Cloudflare is a US-based content delivery network. Content delivery networks, also known as content distribution networks, are geographically distributed content servers. Their data centers were created to provide high availability and performance. They distribute services spatially relative to end-users. Thereby bringing content closer to the user’s geographic location.
Cloudflare is one of the largest CDNs in the world, handling about 10% of the global internet traffic. It was founded in 2009 and is present in more than 100 countries. More than 8 million internet properties are on Cloudflare.
HOW IT WORKS
Cloudflare serves as the middleman between the client and the server. It’s a reverse proxy server that mirrors and caches websites. It retrieves resources from service providers and delivers them to the clients.
The value comes from the CDN’s ability to store content on the closest edge server. Doing so takes content very close to the user. Which means it takes a much shorter time to retrieve the same resources than when getting them directly from the service provider.
This intermediary approach also allows Cloudflare to offer security and business scalability resources. For example, on-demand processing power and data storage.
If you’re wondering whether to use Cloudflare, the answer is a big — YES! The following are just a few of the benefits of Cloudflare for small and medium-sized businesses.
• It reduces latency: Latency is the time it takes a client to communicate with the service provider’s server. It’s the time lapse between the initial service request from the client and the server’s first response.
Latency is dependent on many things. However, the most important one is the physical distance between the communicating devices. The longer the distance, the greater the latency. With more than 187 data centers distributed in over 100 countries, Cloudflare moves content closer to users, cutting latency multiple times.
• It reduces server strain: Server strain happens when a server faces more requests than it can comfortably handle. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon. Periodically, businesses receive tons of traffic because of a viral social media post, successful Google ad, etc. This can sometimes even lead to server crashes.
Cloudflare solves server strain in two ways. First, it sits as a proxy server between the client and the service provider. Thus shielding the business from potentially overburdening traffic. Secondly, it stores a cached version of your site and sends it to customers in case the original server crashes. Thereby, effectively keeping you always online.
• Protects against malicious traffic: Finally, we’re all aware of the current state of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, it’s an extremely worrying situation. For one, the number of cybercriminals is constantly rising. Worse still, the criminals are constantly developing new tools, technology, and strategies to infiltrate organizations and break into business systems.
Cloudflare alone cannot keep you completely secure your business systems. However, sitting between your site and the rest of the world, it shields your site from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, comment spam, content scalping and many other common attacks.
WRAPPING IT UP
Besides the three benefits above, Cloudflare also automatically provides businesses with Secure Socket Layer certificates for all proxied domains. Users also report reduced bandwidth costs. So, yes, your business could definitely benefit from using Cloudflare.
Mike Gingerich is president of Digital Hill Multimedia (www.DigitalHill.com), a Goshen web design, web software and social media marketing firm. He is also a business blogger on tech, marketing, and growth. Find out more at www.MikeGingerich.com/blog/.