Data Distribution Network (DDN) vs. Content Distribution Network (CDN)

Push Technology - June 25, 2014

Recently I’ve had a few people ask me the difference between content distribution network (CDN) vs. what we do at Push Technology, as we like to call it data distribution network (DDN). Here’s my reply.

The goal of a CDN is to make available frequently accessed “content” – usually web pages, videos, pictures and other such static web content – as close to the users requesting it as possible. In simplistic terms, this is done by caching the content from the originating server to servers distributed around the Internet at various Points of Presence (PoPs), usually in service providers’ data centers around the world.

A good example would be movie trailers. These are seeded into the CDN from, say Paramount, and then get cached at AT&T, Sprint, Virgin Media, etc. datacenters in whatever markets the movie is available. If a request comes in from an end user for a trailer that is not cached, the CDN requests the content from the originating server and then caches it in anticipation of other requests.

The difference from the CDN vs. data distribution network (DDN), is that live conversational data is cached in real-time rather than content cached at regular periods so it’s typically much smaller and much more up to date. The data is cached in a hierarchy of topics to allow for easy subscription to subsets of data (topic branches). The data comes from an originating server, typically called data sources, such as a database or an enterprise service bus. Instead of requesting the data, applications (used by customers, employees, machines) subscribe to the data. If data is already cached, the end user or machine will get the current version (or state) of the data and then any subsequent updates are pushed as the data changes.

An example of where a DDN is more appropriate is for fast changing data where Internet or mobile connectivity is unreliable or bandwidth is unpredictable. If data is changing quickly, say for example financial information or sporting odds, and your end user loses connectivity, upon reconnection, your DDN will have cached the data you are subscribed to and you will be sent only the information you missed whilst you lost your connection, rather than having to load the whole page or application again.

A major differentiator is that the expectation is that the data does change over time unlike a CDN where each individual piece of content is static.

Our DDN solution is Diffusion. Using Diffusion, organizations can ensure data is distributed at speed, scale and efficiently. Diffusion servers can be located anywhere geographically and having them close to where the end applications wish to consume data is advantageous in terms of minimizing the amount of mobile and Internet latency incurred in retrieving that data.

Find out more about Diffusion.


The Diffusion® Intelligent Event-Data Platform makes it easy to consume, enrich and deliver event-data in real-time across all network conditions. Push Technology pioneered and is the sole provider of real-time delta data streaming™ technology that powers mission-critical business applications worldwide. Leading brands use Push Technology to bring innovative products to market faster by reducing the software development efforts using the low-code features. The Diffusion® Intelligent Event-Data Platform is available on-premise, in-the-cloud, or in a hybrid configuration. Learn how Push Technology can reduce infrastructure costs, and increase speed, efficiency, and reliability, of your web, mobile, and IoT application.

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