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Introducing IPS CDN Service

A Content Delivery Network, or CDN is a distributed system of servers to provide high-availablity and high-performance. For example, rather than serving your CSS, images and Javascript from the same webserver that PHP and the rest of your community runs on, these are loaded from a network of servers, improving performance and reducing load on your server.

Having a CDN can improve your community's quality, reliability and scalability, as well as reduce your hosting costs. By offloading the serving of images, CSS, Javascript, etc. you free up your system resources to serve the real content which makes for a better experience. Some say that there are also SEO advantages o CDN use.

The IPS Community Suite has supported Content Delivery Networks for some time. However, they can be expensive and difficult to set up. Many clients want a CDN but do not know where to go and we hope to help them out.

We are pleased to announce a new service, IPS CDN, which will allow you to quickly, easily and inexpensively start using this important technology on your community.


How does it work?

The IPS CDN service will be supported in IP.Board 3.4. After upgrading, you'll notice a new section of the Admin Control Panel called "Community Enhancements" - one of the options available here is "IPS CDN".

On this page you'll be able to enable the CDN, which will take you to a new page in the client area where you can purchase credits:

Note that the packages shown in this screenshot are examples only.

As you will notice from that screenshot, you can purchase credits for your CDN account as and when you want, and optionally set up your account to automatically top-up as you run low on credit.

Once this is done, your community will automatically start using the CDN service. If you do not set up automatic top-up, we'll send you an email when your account is running low on credit (when you go below 10GB, 5GB and 1GB). If your credit runs out without you topping up, your community will automatically stop using the CDN service - there will be no interruption to the running of your community, it will automatically notice there's no credit remaining and go back to serving resources locally. If you top up again, it will automatically enable itself again.

One problem of using the IPS Community Suite (or indeed any application) with a CDN is that when a resource is changed locally, the CDN needs to be recached to notice the new changes. Unless the CDN is notified of a change it will keep serving the old copy of the file - sometimes for up to 24 hours. This can cause much confusion to you and your visitors.

To remedy that problem: since editing skins and the CSS is done from the Admin CP, the system will automatically call the CDN service to recache resources as and when you change them, so you don't need to worry about this.

You can keep track of your usage in the Admin CP, where you'll be able to see a graph with your usage over the last 7 days. You'll also be able to buy more credits, disable the system, and manually recache.



How much does it cost?

The service will be based on "Pay As You Go" pricing. Meaning there's no minimum sign up fee - you simply purchase credit on your account and that credit is good for an amount of data transferred through the service. As you use the CDN, your credit will decrease and you can top up with more.

The base price for the CDN will be at or around $0.18 per GB of bandwidth served through the CDN and may drop as you reach higher levels. We realize this is rather unspecific right now but we are negotiating with CDN providers to get the best bulk pricing. It will be our goal to pass any volume savings we receive on to our clients as we look at this service is a great way to enhance our client's experience and want to encourage its use.

Everyone will however be offered their first Gigabyte for free to try out the service before purchase.

Of course if you do not want to use the IPS CDN service and want to use another provider you can certainly do that. We believe the click and go setup for the IPS CDN service will encourage usage and benefit all IPS Community Suite users.

Future CDN Integration

Right now the CDN is a basic "pull" implementation whereby it simply pulls data from your live server then serves it via its cache. In the future we hope to implement storage services. This would mean that uploaded files would be stored on the CDN rather than your local computer. This is great to reduce storage costs on your hosting and also means that, other than the actual processing of data, your community's files are geographically distributed. For our power users this would also mean even easier cluster/cloud hosting.

Storage and other CDN integrations will come in future versions of the IPS Community Suite so for now enjoy the current features while we work on even more great additions!

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Ooooh, you tempting buggers!! Now that's a service I will be trying - I've been looking at CDN's for a while now but the associated cost's are just a little too steep, or providers are looking for a set minimum per month with no clear explanation as to what happens when you go over which is the main reason I have been put off - but with the clear explanation above, it would be stupid not to give it a go!!

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This looks great, but I have one small concern that caused me to stop using a CDN in the past.

Please tell me that IP.Board 3.4 will provide a new file name when an avatar is replaced, to avoid the whole, "where's my avatar???" issue.

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[quote name='• Jay •' timestamp='1345722971']
This looks great, but I have one small concern that caused me to stop using a CDN in the past.

Please tell me that IP.Board 3.4 will provide a new file name when an avatar is replaced, to avoid the whole, "where's my avatar???" issue.


It doesn't do a new file name it actually sends a notice to the CDN to recache that image. Since we are running the CDN the Suite is "aware" of it and can make calls to the service. So when you change a photo, edit the skin, modify the CSS, upgrade your install, etc. the Suite will call our servers to notify that the the CDN needs to re-cache.

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IP.Board 3.4 is turning out to have a lot of "big" new features. You're really out to end the 3.x series with a bang. :D

I really like the idea of a CDN solution that is tightly integrated with the IPS suite, especially if it will be possible to use it for file storage in the future. I'm curious, of course, to hear which provider the service ends up running through but Mark mentioned that they're still in negotiations there.

I'm wondering, will the IPS CDN operate from an IPS-owned domain or one of our own? Since this is a feature intended to be as easy to integrate as possible, I'm concerned that it may involve committing all of our static assets to a domain we don't own and that won't serve the assets if we ever stop using this service - it doesn't sound like you'll be making the admin fumble with CNAME records and whatnot to use this.

[quote name='• Jay •' timestamp='1345722971']
Please tell me that IP.Board 3.4 will provide a new file name when an avatar is replaced, to avoid the whole, "where's my avatar???" issue.


IP.Board 3.3 already adds query strings to avatars to avoid this issue. I'm using a CDN on my sites right now and greatly enjoying the speed boost.

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When you first enable the service it will use one of our domains but you can easily CNAME one of your domains to it. There will be settings to do this :smile:

We will use one of our domains so we can easily switch providers or even have multiple providers depending on pricing and if we're happy with their service. We want to be able to do that transparently to you. The idea is that you won't have to ever think about the CDN.

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[quote name='zerofusion' timestamp='1345728444']
This is a really great deal price wise compared to other CDN's like Amazon CloudFront.

Are you able to tell us where the edge locations of the CDN you are using are located?

I would like to compare to other CDN's global availability:
http://aws.amazon.co...dfront/#details


We're researching providers right now. We may have one or a few different CDN providers as we find the best fit for our clients. So for now the geographic distribution could vary. Of course we're using providers that all they do is CDN so they all have good world-wide locations. Also pricing is subject to change don't forget :)

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[quote name='ZakRhyno' timestamp='1345733325']
Your pretty much saying your a backup stroage for a person's site?

No you might want to research what a CDN does :)

Short version is: browser requests an image from your server. That request actually goes via the CDN so it serves the images to the user. This means your server doesn't have to worry about that connection, bandwidth, etc. to serve the image to the user so it can focus on your real content. Multiply that scenario times thousands of connections a minute on a busy site and a CDN is a big benefit.

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[quote name='Charles' timestamp='1345733433']
No you might want to research what a CDN does :smile:

Short version is: browser requests an image from your server. That request actually goes via the CDN so it serves the images to the user. This means your server doesn't have to worry about that connection, bandwidth, etc. to serve the image to the user so it can focus on your real content. Multiply that scenario times thousands of connections a minute on a busy site and a CDN is a big benefit.


The reduction of server load is only half of it. :) CDN's have countless servers around the world, and when your browser requests a file from it, the file is served from whichever CDN server is physically closest to you. This usually has a dramatic effect on page loading times, especially on sites with complex themes and pages with many images.

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[quote name='Feld0' timestamp='1345733768']

The reduction of server load is only half of it. :smile: CDN's have countless servers around the world, and when your browser requests a file from it, the file is served from whichever CDN server is physically closest to you. This usually has a dramatic effect on page loading times, especially on sites with complex themes and pages with many images.


Well yes there's that too :) Lots of advantages.


[quote name='Nick²' timestamp='1345733802']
So, does this mean that you'll also be adding some sort of pay-as-you-go credit feature to Nexus? If so, that would be awesome!


Not in direct relation to this. The CDN servicing is, as you imagine, pretty custom so we wrote custom extension in Nexus to do it. Of course the extension loading is a standard feature in Nexus so we didn't have to modify the code itself. Even we avoid code-level edits.

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[quote name='Charles' timestamp='1345733433']
No you might want to research what a CDN does :smile:

Short version is: browser requests an image from your server. That request actually goes via the CDN so it serves the images to the user. This means your server doesn't have to worry about that connection, bandwidth, etc. to serve the image to the user so it can focus on your real content. Multiply that scenario times thousands of connections a minute on a busy site and a CDN is a big benefit.


So then your saying your a storage unit with data on it with out it being local on the server then?

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I'm convinced Charles has my house bugged or something, over the past 10 yrs every time I'm kinda getting a bit bored and "glancing" at other forum software's (never too seriously btw)

BAM!!! Something awesome comes out, keep up the great work and thank you to all the team :)

**sits back patiently awaiting its release**

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Hello,

This is good news, but 0,09 is not a good deal. There are CDN's where the price is half of that and it's public ... we don't need to negotiate amounts of traffic to get lower values.

Keep up the good work!

Edit: By the way, can these reports be integrated with a external provider? Maybe using an API?

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Will the price be based solely on the amount of data transferred or is there a time period for the amount of data?

ie, say for September I buy 5gb of data but only use 3.5gb, will I lose the other 1.5gb when October starts, or will I continue to get full use of the 1.5gb but just need to 'top off' so it doesn't run out?

If the bandwidth we purchase is available until it's used up (no time limit), will there be discounts for buying more up front even if it takes awhile to use it all up? (ie, let's say I buy 20gb but it takes a year, would I spend less than buying 5gb over four separate purchases)

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Wow, really glad to hear this. I just ran out of my MaxCDN 1GB allowance so I'll likely use this. Is there any chance it'll be accessible by outside applications (such as those connected via SSO)?

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This could be very useful, we already use a cdn but having the functionality to refresh new content out of the box will save a few workarounds we've had to put in place. Will you be releasing info on the cdn(s) you're using and their networks as obviously not all cdn's are equal...

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