Microsoft AJAX CDN: What is it and why you should know about it

Microsoft just announced the AJAX CDN (Content Delivery Network). The CDN was made available to aid in the serving of jQuery and ASP.NET AJAX script libraries to the end user. Traditionally, these files are served from the same server that is serving the web site content.

The CDN uses edge-caching to deliver this content instead. Microsoft’s edge-cache servers are strategically located all over the world. This has a couple of advantages. First, it’s faster because the data is coming from the server that is closest to the end users locale. Second, if the end user has already visited a site using the CDN, this information is probably already cached locally.

Also remember, without the CDN this information is downloaded every time a user visits a unique AJAX enabled site. Even if the applications are the same, the fact that they are located on different systems causes the information to be re-downloaded. But with the CDN, since it distributes files from one common location, it is very likely that some other end user has already downloaded the file in question while visiting a different site, so that should make things faster.

There are a couple of potential drawbacks however. First, if there was to be an issue with the CDN, resolving the issue is completely out of your hands and there is no one to contact and ask for assistance. The second potential issue could be privacy. The CDN is delivered via the domain. Their use of cookies could be used to track visiting habits.

Personally, I think the drawbacks are minimal, however I felt they were still worth including.

For additional information about the AJAX CDN and how to implement it, head over to the Scott Guthrie’s blog.

Michael Ossou

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