For those with a digital presence on the internet, you may be familiar with a Content Delivery Network (CDN). It’s even more likely you’re using Cloudflare since they have a free plan available. But free isn’t always best for your site, so you might like to consider some of these Cloudflare alternatives.
1. Akamai CDN
Founded in 1998 by Dr. F. Thomson Leighton, Daniel Lewin, Jonathan Seelig, and Randall Kaplan, Akamai emerged as a leader in providing cybersecurity services. Akamai's CDN platform excels thanks to its vast worldwide server network.
A Quick Akamai Overview
Currently, Akamai owns an estimated 325,000 servers, spread in more than 135 countries. They have deployed more than 1,400 network systems across the globe too. These figures are commendable and significant, making Akamai the top contender to Cloudflare.
Akamai offers feature-rich CDN and security services. Its CDN sports many desirable features that a website needs, such as reliable delivery, adaptive media delivery, API acceleration, cloud wrapper, Ion, mPulse, NetStorage, and more. These features work towards helping improve your site’s performance.
Is Akamai the Best Cloudflare Alternative?
What is a CDN without security? Akamai has introduced many top-notch security features to complete its CDN implementation. It includes Akamai Prolexic technology that managed to stop some significant Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks at 1.44 Tbps and 809 Mpps in the past.
Their highly acclaimed Kona Site Defender, a Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) solution, helps give peace of mind to many organizations. It runs 24/7 and is an automated intelligent web application defense system that provides monitoring, and meaningful, actionable insights companies can utilize.
However, being a large CDN provider, Akamai may be somewhat restrictive and less flexible than smaller ones. Unlike Cloudflare, Akamai does not have a free plan, and their pricing is given only upon consultation. That said, if you have ample money in your pockets, Akamai could be the best Cloudflare alternative.
Formerly known as WEBcohort, Imperva was established by Shlomo Kramer, Amichai Shulman, and Mickey Boodaei in 2002. In 2004, the name changed to Imperva. Their global network spans APAC, the Americas, and EMEA regions. They own 51 data centers operating at more than 9 Tbps.
A Quick Imperva Overview
Imperva prides itself in its cloud-based application delivery solution; Imperva CDN provides built-in load balancing, caching, and failover features into its WAAP solution so that applications are seamlessly delivered. Pages are cached efficiently, with bandwidth consumption reduced by 60%. Connection speeds may also see improvements by up to 50%.
Why Imperva an Alternative to Cloudflare?
Imperva also includes DDoS Protection to ensure business continuity. It protects the network and also subnet layers. Imperva’s advanced bot protection is fantastic and secures all your access points from automated attacks without interrupting legitimate traffic flow. So, only the legitimate stuff gets through.
Like Akamai, you’ll need to contact their sales personnel to get a quote. However, they offer a 30-days free trial where you’ll need to provide details like your email, name, phone, and company. During this free trial, bandwidth gets toned down to 100 Mbps, but you’ll have an option to null-route any traffic that goes beyond this limit.
StackPath was founded in 2015 by Lance Crosby but now operates under the same people who ran SoftLayer, a cloud solutions and services provider, bought over by IBM. Having acquired several strategic companies, StackPath gradually built an upgraded network of servers across more than 50 edge locations worldwide.
A Quick StackPath Overview
One way StackPatch grew was also through the acquisition of MaxCDN. They utilize edge computing, a technology that spreads information processing across tons of locations around the globe, to increase the chances of being closer to the user.
They run top-notch servers at major points across the globe, empowered by a robust network backbone called EdgeEngine, the underlying system that operates and handles the whole infrastructure.
What Makes StackPath an Alternative to Cloudflare?
You’ll also be getting real-time analytics data via graphs and detailed reports so that you’ll always know what's happening and how to move forward better. Their user-friendly customer portal is intuitive enough, and you’ll have absolute control of the system without much hassle.
Last but not least, you’ll also have access to StackPath’s RESTful HTTP APIs. This helps give you the flexibility to customize and interact more with their platform to automate workflows, data reporting, and others. There’s no free plan or trial, and you’ll have to contact their sales personnel to find out more about their plans and pricing.
4. Sucuri CDN
Daniel B. Cid founded Sucuri in 2010, who was said to have coded everything in the said technology. GoDaddy later acquired them in 2017. Having a global presence in 27 countries, Sucuri, as of current writing, has 42,000 paying customers.
A Quick Sucuri Overview
Sucuri’s Globally Distributed Anycast Network crosses 15 cities. They claim to base their performance on key metrics such as total time and not server response time so that your site will always get the optimum performance.
In terms of security monitoring, Sucuri is one of the best. They are known for their suite of full-fledged website security monitoring services, including malware detection and removal.
Is Sucuri a Solid Alternative to Cloudflare?
Their Web Application Firewall (WAF) platform is a cloud-based solution that works around the clock to detect suspicious activity and prevent evolving threats. The WAF system comes with DDoS prevention that blocks attackers, ensuring no downtime for your site.
The WAF platform comes with a CDN as well. Armed with intelligent caching, speedy HTTP/2 support, GZIP compression leading to resource optimization, and others, Sucuri’s CDN improves load speeds by up to more than half.
Since Sucuri’s products are meant more for those who need managed website security, they may not be best suited for those of you who prefer a more direct hands-on approach in everything.
Sucuri's WAF cheapest plan doesn’t come with malware cleanup. If you need this, you’ll have to subscribe to Business’s highest tiered plan. Unlike Cloudflare, Sucuri does not have any free plan. That said, Sucuri remains a solid alternative to Cloudflare for all its quality offered features.
With a decade of experience in the CDN market, Fastly was founded by Artur Bergman in 2011. Fastly is one of those whirlwind service providers that expanded quickly through the years to become a force to be reckoned with today. Google recognized this and selected Fastly to be one of its CDN partners in 2015.
A Quick Fastly Overview
And in 2017, Fastly released its edge cloud platform, fully equipped with load balancing, WAF, and image optimization features. Their edge cloud platform, [email protected], comes with built-in security, so you get a wholesome modern CDN that gives you the edge you need.
They took on the approach of deploying, even though fewer, but compelling points of presence (POPs), scattered evenly throughout the world in all strategic locations. They achieve this with their high-density servers at strategic Points of Presence (68 POPs as of current writing).
Why is Fastly Different?
You’ll get the option to customize via out-of-the-box integration support, with built-in security features, including DDoS, WAF, and TLS offerings. Also, real-time visibility data helps you troubleshoot and plan better for the future. Their media streaming capability is top-notch with minimal buffering at 167+ Tbps capacity.
Fastly has a free trial where you get to use Fastly for free up to $50 of traffic; anything beyond that, you’ll have to pay based on their bandwidth fees. They have higher-tiered plans – Essential, Professional, and Enterprise but you’ll need to contact their personnel to get more info.
6. Limelight Networks
Based in Arizona, Limelight Networks was established in 2001 and has remained one of the forefront leaders in providing CDN services. Throughout the years, it has snatched up several highly acclaimed awards, including Frost & Sullivan's Product Line Strategy award in 2012. It was included as one of Streaming Media's 100 Companies that Matter Most in Online Video in 2017.
A Quick Limelight Networks Overview
They excel in delivering quality online media via their new edge platform, giving you excellent on-the-spot and interactive media content. This delivery is done via its 100GbE global private fiber network with 135 POPs and growing. As such, you need not worry over your website having to contend with a congested network, slowing down your website.
Their highly acclaimed CDN comes with Limelight Origin Storage, a solution specially designed to manage content more efficiently so that you always end up with high availability and performance. You’ll get reporting tools to help you strategize better for the future.
Why Limelight Networks?
Also, SmartPurge, an intelligent feature built-in, works almost real-time in deleting any stale content, thus reducing any obstacles users face in accessing your site. It can also provide you with detailed reporting on its purge effectiveness.
They have a free trial, but you’ll have to write in to request one. As for detailed pricing, you’ll need to reach out to one of Limelight Networks’ sales experts.
7. Amazon Cloudfront
Operated by Amazon Web Services, Amazon Cloudfront had a beta launch in 2008. AWS then decided to make Cloudfront part of their free tier offerings in 2014. As of current writing, Cloudfront boasts of more than 310 POPs scattered throughout the globe.
A Quick Amazon Cloudfront Overview
Amazon Cloudfront is a CDN built with performance and security in mind. You can use AWS Shield Standard that offers you DDoS protection with no additional costs. It is also developer-friendly, where you are allowed to write custom code at the CDN level to get the optimized features you need.
Armed with encryption, edge, and built-in compression capabilities, Cloudfront enables secured static and dynamic content delivery to your users. Hence, there’s no issue in supporting on-demand video delivery.
Amazon Cloudfront – The Best Free CDN Option?
Perhaps one of their valuable features would be the ability to scale automatically as and when required. This dynamic scaling capability helps heaps, especially when there are sudden surges in web traffic; you won’t have to worry as more resources are provisioned automatically.
Their free tier gives you access to 1 TB of data transfer out, 10,000,000 HTTP or HTTPS requests every month. Bear in mind that certain restrictions apply. Cloudfront can become very pricey when you want the whole cake and its icing. That said, Amazon Cloudfront is still one of the best free CDN options available.
8. Microsoft Azure CDN
Initially known as Windows Azure in 2010, Microsoft Azure came in 2014. When it comes to any software and solutions, one cannot easily dismiss Microsoft. Its Microsoft Azure, aka plainly Azure, is a cloud-based and global CDN. Azure CDN’s coverage includes metros, with each metro possibly containing more than a POP.
A Quick Microsoft Azure Overview
Currently, the heavily certified Azure possesses 100 metros with 18 POPs. This massive global coverage provides you with the scalability you need to deliver your content to your users. You get to enjoy high speeds and performance via its highly effective routing optimization features. Also, there’s instantaneous scaling up to cater to a sudden surge in loads.
You’ll have APIs and tools that help you build and optimize features fast for those of you who are advanced developers. You can use HTTPS for all domains without additional charges. Its robust security thwarts DDoS threats.
How is Microsoft Azure Better Than Cloudflare?
You can reap insightful data from advanced analytics by investigating the traffic behavior and content engagement pattern. Then, you’ll know how to adjust accordingly to improve.
All you need is an Azure subscription and owning at least one CDN profile. There’s no upfront cost, and you’re required to pay for what you use. There are also no termination fees. Feel free to check out their 30-days free trial.
What is Cloudflare, and Why Do You Need an Alternative?
Created in 2009 and established in 2010, Cloudflare runs across over 90 countries in 193 cities (as of current writing). They boast of over 20 million internet properties which speak volumes of their seriousness in business. Hence, it is no wonder that Cloudflare is one of the front runners in the Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Upon using Cloudflare, your site’s data is cached in chunks all over the world in their servers. So, let’s say a user accesses your site from a specific location, Cloudflare delivers your cached data from a server nearest the user. At the same time, Cloudflare works to retrieve the remaining data of your site from other servers.
During this time, the user would have at least received some information on your site which helps to reduce your bounce rate. Cloudflare’s servers not only function as cache servers, they also behave as firewalls, filtering out and thwarting any cyber attacks.
Cloudflare does come with a free plan, but it is a very basic one with limited features. So, if you need more goodies, you’ll need to pay. Especially if your site handles credit card transactions, you must go for the Business plan at $200 a month; this sum does add up significantly.
Like it or not, Cloudflare certainly has all the right ingredients of being a massive and powerful CDN. And it is just this point, along with its viable free option, that makes Cloudflare a suitable solution for websites of all shapes and sizes. Hence, many smaller businesses can enjoy the benefits a CDN can bring them.
However, for those of you who need more features, you’ll have to look at Cloudflare’s higher plans that can prove to be expensive. As such, it is understandable to explore other alternatives.