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A Comprehensive Definition of an Origin Server and its Functions

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An origin server is a computer that runs programs designed to pick up and process any incoming requests from internet users. The origin server holds the original web page, and the term differentiates the web cache from the web server.

Digital copies are identical, so there is no way to distinguish between a digital copy and original. The term origin server means that the website owner updates and maintains the server. The client and the original server’s physical distance adds to delay or lag, meaning the client waits a little longer before the requested web page loads.

If the origin server status is slow or shuts down, it automatically means that the users will not have any content delivered to them. The extra RTT (Round-trip time) needed the data to travel between the server, and the client adds a lag in the requested delivery.

RTT is defined as how many milliseconds (ms) a browser or request for information and get a response from the server. RTT is not affected by internet speed or file size but is affected by physical distance, traffic amount, intermediate nodes, or the transmission medium.

Using a CDN (Content Distribution Network (CDN) reduces the latency between request and delivery. The origin server concept is used alongside the caching or edge server concept.

What is a Content Distribution Network?

A Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a server network strategically placed in various parts of the world. Each CDN has copies of the websites’ content, thus serving the clients within its location.

By making the content more accessible for each internet user, the CDN reduces the website loading time, minimizes the operating costs such as bandwidth consumption, and improves the origin server status.

As the world becomes a global village, more websites are designed for a worldwide market, and CDNs are becoming more popular and affordable, with some CDN services offered free of charge.

The cores of CDN infrastructures are Points of Presence (PoPs), which are locational data centers that communicate with clients close to them. The use of locational CDNs reduces the RTT (round-trip time) and makes the website more responsive and faster, regardless of location.

Each PoP holds several routers and servers responsible for optimizing connections, caching, and other features. For the CDNs accountable for security, PoPs have DDoS machines and scrubbing servers that aid in security functions.

What are the Differences between an Origin Server and a CDN Edge Server?

Origin Server

CDN servers are computers that are strategically placed between internet providers in different locations around the world to help deliver content fast. An edge server is found in a CDN, but right on, the edge of the network, and by design, quickly processes requests.

Putting edge servers inside the IxPs or Internet Exchange Points found in between systems means a CDN can minimize the time taken to reach a specific internet location.

The edge servers cache the content to take the origin servers’ weight and preserve the origin server status.

By shifting static assets such as HTML, JavaScript files, or images closer to the requesting machine, an edge server cache reduces the time it takes the webpage to load. In short, your website’s management is done via web hosts charged with information stored in the original server.

CDNs, on the other hand, are clusters of servers that are strategically scattered all over the globe to serve the global clientele more efficiently.

Can an Origin Server be Attacked While Using a CDN?

An origin server can be attacked while using a CDN. The CDN does not make the origin server completely secure, but it gives it a security level because it hides the origin server IP address, shielding it from all incoming requests. Protecting the origin server IP address is a critical part of using a CDN, and the CDN provider needs to insist on changing the IP address of the original server.

This IP change mitigates DDoS attacks from bypassing the shield and directly attacking the origin server.

DDoS or Distributed Denial of service attacks is a standard attack method against web sites. DDoS is easy to administer since it requires zero skills at hacking. A DDoS attack only requires a hacker to flood your website with excess traffic by using a botnet. The traffic slows your site down or makes it inaccessible to the users. 

A DDoS attack is rarely launched on its own, and it is used alongside a different cyber-attack, such as an SQL injection. An SQL injection is an attack that injects malicious code into your computer for execution. The attack allows a criminal to tamper with data and spoof your identity as well as destruction of your database.

Gaming servers usually experience outages for various reasons, mostly from DDoS. Websites such as the original skyblock server and the ea origin server have been recent victims of outages, preventing users from accessing their games.

With the origin server down, nobody could access games, and the reason for the disruption was unknown, even though service was later restored. It could have been a DDoS attack on the server, overwhelming it and making users unable to access the services, both online and offline.

How does a CDN Protect My origin server?

Hackers target websites with a lot of traffic and flood it with data, efficiently slowing it down. Gaming websites are especially vulnerable to DDoS, and sometimes, outages happen.

As mentioned earlier, this prevents millions from accessing their games, either online or offline. A CDN solution improves page-loading times, web performance, and helps secure websites against unwanted traffic from DDoS attacks. A CDN protects your server via qualities like:

CDNs can Handle High Traffic

A CDN by design is built to handle and analyze high traffic volumes to websites. This includes spikes in traffic due to SEO, marketing, and sales campaigns.

This feature is useful when it comes to handling unusual traffic brought on by DDoS attacks. With the massive capacity of the CDN infrastructure, it can absorb low-level offenses without buckling under the pressure of data overload.

Proactive Monitoring Tools

Just because the CDN can absorb a high traffic, volume does not mean your website is safe. These are the reasons why most CDN operators have various tools that help sites mitigate different attacks. These tools help monitor possible threats and have the capacity to inspect and cleanse the traffic of harmful and unnatural visits.

Support for TLS Extensions

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a security protocol that lends authentication to your website, privacy, and data integrity between the servers, from the origin to the CDN, and from the CDN to the end-user. This is an option for website owners who need to protect their web assets and improve their site page load speed for a better experience.

What are Multi-Data Centers?

A data center is a facility used by organizations for physically housing their critical data and applications. Datacenter designs are based on storage and computing network resources that make it possible to deliver shared data and applications.

The essential components of a data center include switches, firewalls, routers, servers, storage systems, etc. Multi-data center strategies are crucial for organizations for several reasons:

Prevention of Data Loss

Loss of data is devastating, and the downtime it causes high costs and damages a company’s reputation. Implementing a multi-data strategy that utilizes off-site storage for backing up critical data protects companies from experiencing downtime and data loss in case of a ransomware attack or natural disasters.

Compliance

A company might build an on-premises data center but might not consider the myriad compliance standards for protecting their clients’ data. Storing your IT assets using a third-party data center that has already fulfilled its regulatory compliance standards is advised.

Multi-data center strategies allow organizations to lean on the compliance of other data centers and still host some operations. Is it safer to have several original servers or multi-data centers? Multi data centers seem like the way to go for most organizations.

Advantages of CDNS

CDNs have many benefits, which include:

  • Scalability 
  • Reliability
  • Responsiveness
  • Performance

Conclusion

Origin servers are the backbone of a website and have to be protected from hacking using a CDN. DDoS attacks are more common today than several years ago, and to protect your data and that of your clients, taking precautions is imperative.

A CDN reduces the time it takes between making an online request and receiving the requested data, or RTT, which makes all the difference in determining how fast a browser is.

CDN servers protect your origin servers by their ability to handle high volume data, unlike original servers. When DDoS attacks flood your server with useless requests, a CDN can take the influx in its stride and not buckle under the barrage of data.

In summary, a CDN reduces bandwidth consumption, minimizes latency, and provides scalability for handling abnormally high traffic loads. These tasks are only possible via a robust architecture, which transforms your CDN into a fast content delivery channel.

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