The explosive growth of users in China’s internet community presents companies with a tremendous opportunity to expand their customer base and increase revenue. China’s online revenue hit RMB 265.45 billion in the second quarter of 2015, a growth of 23 percent over the previous quarter.
Much of that money is spent on content, products, and services of Western origin. And demand is expected to remain strong.
While US-based companies stand to reap tremendous rewards from Chinese online consumers, their market entry has been inhibited by spotty network interconnectivity, the dispersion of consumers across vast geographies, and daunting rules and regulations for delivering online content into China.
The government maze
Barely a week passes without news organizations reporting new cases of internet interference by the Chinese government. In some cases, Western companies are affected by experiencing content delivery interruptions or permanent deletion of URLs from the Chinese government’s registry of acceptable URLs.
For businesses seeking to deliver B2B or B2C content into China, navigating policies and regulations can become an excessive burden. The situation is further complicated by an environment in which the central Chinese government and provincial governments continuously issue changing regulations. Businesses often need a dedicated team to manage the hurdles to avoid business interruptions.
A network of dispersed users
China’s Internet is a fragmented network of networks with very few exchange points, which makes it difficult to extend existing websites and web applications across China. The situation is exacerbated because end users are spread across vast geographies, and 45 percent of users are in rural areas.
To overcome the networking issues within China, businesses must focus a great amount of time and effort on developing internet service provider (ISP) relationships and performing a substantial amount of traffic monitoring and management. Otherwise, they will struggle to deliver content to their intended audience in a reliable and consistent manner.
Why not deliver content from abroad?
Given the physical network and bureaucratic challenges of China, some call the Chinese Internet the “Wild, Wild East.” To avoid entering this difficult–to-navigate environment, many businesses have attempted to reach Chinese users by serving content and applications from data centers in the U.S. and Western Europe. But this results in unacceptably lengthy—10 seconds or longer—web page load times. As the research firm Gartner pointed out, “A significant percentage of the performance issues are driven by sheer latency, due to long geographic distances between China and the U.S.and Western Europe.”
To overcome these performance issues, businesses must deliver their content from servers physically closer to Chinese end users. Not wanting to enter mainland China, some companies have put servers in Hong Kong-based data centers. Businesses have been disappointed to find that the high price of Hong Kong data center hosting, usually 30-40 percent higher than the rest of the world, makes it difficult to address the latency issue. Unless they can eliminate latency, businesses will not realize the revenue gains from usage of their websites and applications.
As a result of the challenges presented by China’s Internet environment, IT managers face a confusing dilemma. Do they dedicate a full team and resources to China or seek out a trustworthy service provider with China experience?
Strapped for resources, most IT managers turn to a CDN provider with experience delivering content globally and can likely enable faster entry into China than the business could achieve on its own.
How China-focused CDNs help
CDN usage has dramatically grown in the past decade. As businesses expanded to serve global audiences, CDNs helped speed those expansions by delivering website content from servers on large number of networks around the world. With those resources, companies can quickly serve website content and applications to users anywhere in the world in a fast, secure, and reliable manner. Of course, China remains the one exception.
A one-size-fits-all strategy for content delivery does not translate well in China. The country’s unique network and regulatory challenges require CDN providers to gain a high level of proficiency in the business and government landscape. This is crucial to providing fast responses to local issues that affect website and application performance.
Recognizing the “China Gap” that exists among large US-based CDN providers, a few China-based CDNs were recently established. However, their China-only capabilities have made them largely ineffective for Western businesses pursuing a global content delivery strategy. And employing the services of two CDNs (one for China and one for the rest of the world) makes little sense. Such a strategy requires IT managers to spend an inordinate amount of time integrating and managing content between separate service providers.
Ultimately, businesses seeking global audiences while expanding into China need to leverage the services of a CDN with the following characteristics:
- Physical presence inside mainland China, including network nodes and people
- Global infrastructure presence to serve the Americas, EMEA, and APAC
- In-depth knowledge of China’s business/government landscape
- Continuous monitoring of Chinese government regulations
- Network/ISP relationships with China’s key networks
- Help securing the necessary licenses to serve a website in China (ICP, Beien)
- Support for application and website acceleration, including delivery of both static content and streaming media
- Protection from DDoS attacks both on the application and network levels
CDNetworks is a global content delivery network (CDN) with fully integrated Cloud Security DDoS protection and web application firewall. Our mission is to transform the Internet into a secure, reliable, scalable, and high-performing Application Delivery Network. CDNetworks accelerates more than 40,000 websites and cloud services over a network of 200 global PoPs in established and emerging markets including China and Russia. We have been serving enterprise customers for 15 years across industries such as gaming, finance, ecommerce, high tech, manufacturing, and media. CDNetworks offices are located in the U.S., UK, South Korea, China, Japan, and Singapore. For more information, please visit: http://www.cdnetworks.com.