What You Need to Know About CDN

If you were able to tune in to our November Brown Bag, you have heard about functionality we are adding to our service known as CDN (Content Delivery Network). For those who weren’t able to attend, here’s what you need to know:

What Does it Do?

CDN is a system of servers which delivers content to the user based on geographic location and origin of the webpage being viewed. The speed at which it can provide content to the user is increased based on the proximity of the servers to the person accessing the site.

By default, CDN also protects our service from large surges of traffic.

What Does This Mean for My Site?

If you are authenticated (logged in to your site), you will not notice any differences. If you (or a user) is not logged in to WiscWeb when viewing your site, the primary differences will be faster load times and a URL change for media.

Faster Load Times

Adding CDN to WiscWeb will limit the number of calls made when a user loads a page of a site, which will result in faster page load times.

Media URL Changes

The addition of CDN service will have an impact on the structure of your media URLs. The major change is that users would now see “cloudfront.net” in the URL if they opened the image directly. Otherwise, the change is largely unnoticed as this is all handled by the browser.

Here’s an example of a media URL prior to this change:

A URL for the train.wiscweb.wisc.edu site which shows the before view of a media path before CDN is applied. This URL does not include the "cloudfront.net" portion, which is the main difference.

Here’s an example of a media URL after the change to CDN:

A URL for the train.wiscweb.wisc.edu site which shows the resultant view of a media path after CDN is applied. This URL includes the "cloudfront.net" portion, which is the main difference.

You’ll notice that the second image no longer references the larger site domain.

Please note: Accessing the image from cloudfront.net, your *.wiscweb.wisc.edu, or your *.wisc.edu domain will still load the same file. There is no change to actual hosting of the image – it still exists within your media library.

What Do I Need to Do?

No action is required of you at this time. We do not anticipate that this will cause any issues on your site and the only change you’ll likely notice is faster page load times when you are not logged in. This should not break links on your site and you will not need to update your media files.

If you do happen to notice any odd changes to your site post-CDN update, please notify our support team at cms-support@doit.wisc.edu. Include a description of what you are seeing, your site URL, and any other items of relevance (including screenshots).