Use image CDNs to optimize images

An image CDN is a standard content distribution network that has additional software installed on top to improve the functionality of the underlying CDN and improve its ability to optimise and transform images in real-time for image delivery.

What is image CDNs?

Image CDNs are experts at transforming, improving, and delivering images. They can also be viewed as picture access and manipulation APIs for your website. An image URL for an image loaded from an image CDN specifies the picture to load as well as other details like size, format, and quality. Because of this, creating modifications of a picture for various use cases is simple.

In contrast to build-time image optimization routines, image CDNs produce updated versions of pictures as they are required. As a result, CDNs are typically more suitable than build scripts for producing images that are highly customised for each specific client.

Types of image CDNs

There are two types of image CDNs: self-managed and third-party-managed.

Self-Managed CDNs

For websites with engineering employees who are confident managing their own infrastructure, self-managed CDNs can be a smart option.

The only self-managed image CDN currently available is Thumbor. Despite being open-source and cost-free to use, it often offers less functionality than the majority of commercial CDNs and has rather restricted documentation. Thumbor is utilised by 99designs, Square, and Wikipedia.

Third-Party managed CDNs

As a service, image CDNs are offered by third parties. Image CDNs offer image optimization and distribution for a fee, just like cloud providers charge a fee for the use of their servers and other infrastructure. Although a complete migration for a large site can take much longer, getting started is pretty simple and can typically be completed in 10-15 minutes because third-party image CDNs maintain the underlying technology. Most third-party image CDNs offer either a free tier or a free trial to give you a chance to try out their product. Third-party image CDN prices are mainly based on consumption tiers.

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