Delivering the content that powers these devices from the world’s fastest CDN


Every day Highwinds delivers content and rich media over our high-performance content delivery network to millions of users across the globe, but December is always a month of new records with unprecedented network traffic increases across five continents.

It’s hardly a surprise that connected devices have again dominated the holiday shopping season. Many of the devices sold each year during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are given as gifts during the December holidays. This year was no exception, with electronics and appliance sales up 16.1% year-over-year. As youngsters and adults around the world open their new game consoles, smart television sets, set-top boxes, and mobile devices, the first thing they do is turn them on, connect to the Internet, and start downloading updates, patches, games, videos, apps, podcasts, and music. The last thing anybody wants to do after turning on their shiny new device is wait to enjoy it while staring at a download progress bar – so at Highwinds, we pride ourselves in delivering the content that powers these devices from the world’s fastest CDN, ensuring that the time span from download to delight is as short as possible.

Our ability to handle the holiday season with finesse is no accident. Highwinds works directly with our customers as we gear up each year to preempt and exceed demand in content delivery needs, whether that demand be for a seasonal holiday spike like the one we have just seen, or one of the many high-traffic product launches or download events we see throughout the year. We’ve more than doubled our capacity each year for the past two years to ensure that we’re prepared for sustained spikes during the November and December holiday weekends, resulting in our ability to deliver instant gratification to families all over the world when it counts the most.

This December has been our highest traffic month ever, with month-to-date traffic exceeding that of the previous year by 117%. We set a new mark for highest peak traffic of all time on Christmas Day, followed by a new record for total delivery in a 24-hour period on December 26.

Over the last twelve months our traffic has doubled. We’re anticipating an even faster rate of growth in the coming year. To stay ahead of this growth, Highwinds has developed a continuous planning and deployment process designed to ensure that capacity is in place when and where it is needed well ahead of demand. This process has emerged through our tenure operating a world-class CDN, encompassing many factors including retroactive forecasting, digging in to the regional demand and seasonality of our customer’s traffic profiles, detailed analysis of the paths bits take to reach end users, engaging with peering partners to ensure that their capacity plans align with our own, and much more.

In the last year alone, this process resulted in us making the following improvements:

  • Augmenting peering connections across the globe to further increase network efficiency and performance.
  • Doubling of both land-based and transatlantic backbone capacity.
  • Network engineering efforts resulting in a 155% increase in routing efficiency and an 80% increase in CDN edge performance across the network.
  • Deployment of 437% more capacity in the field, as a result of nearly doubling the count of physical servers in production coupled with engineering and performance tuning initiatives.

As we enter the new year, Highwinds has a number of expansions planned for Q1 2017, including breaking ground in new markets as well as additional capacity deployments to existing points of presence. Look out for our January announcement on network updates to learn more.

Maxim Porges

By Maxim Porges, Vice President of Systems Engineering