Fastly > Case Studies > OpenStreetMap's Transformation with Modern CDN for Global Updates

OpenStreetMap's Transformation with Modern CDN for Global Updates

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Technology Category
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - Cloud Middleware & Microservices
  • Sensors - GPS
Applicable Industries
  • Cement
  • Transportation
Applicable Functions
  • Logistics & Transportation
Use Cases
  • Last Mile Delivery
  • Search & Rescue
  • System Integration
The Challenge
OpenStreetMap (OSM), an open-source global map built by 6.4 million volunteers, faced significant challenges with their content delivery. Their data, used worldwide for various applications, is updated frequently, sometimes every minute, and a new complete export of their data is published weekly. However, their initial solution of building their own content delivery network (CDN) with donated resources was fraught with difficulties. They struggled to obtain servers in certain regions, and map editors often complained about slow loading times. Their ability to detect and correct server issues was minimal. In 2019, a traffic spike caused by the London Marathon's new app led to the meltdown of OSM's custom-built CDN, forcing them to reroute traffic and seek a different solution.
About The Customer
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open-source global map built by 6.4 million volunteers who survey towns and countrysides around the world. They built the software that powers the project, from the interface to the underlying data access API, and they use a wiki-style collaborative editing tool and GPS units to update the data. The map images and the underlying data are released under an open-content license, free to use and openly accessible. OSM data is used all over the world for various applications, including routers, couriers, disaster response, and maps. Tens of thousands of websites use OSM’s data.
The Solution
OSM turned to a modern CDN to address their challenges. Modern CDNs allow for the delivery of truly dynamic content that changes with every request from the edge instead of the origin. They offer the ability to instantly and selectively purge content, making it possible to cache a lot of content that would otherwise be uncacheable with traditional CDNs. Additionally, they provide real-time visibility into stats and logs to monitor API performance. OSM chose Fastly for their CDN needs due to the high level of control it could provide. They were able to write custom logic to limit invalid requests and reduce the load on their servers. They also improved their observability capabilities, enabling them to move from a defensive to a proactive posture. Fastly's CDN also improved the user experience, with users noting a massive improvement in performance.
Operational Impact
  • The implementation of a modern CDN has transformed OpenStreetMap's operations. The improved performance and reduced load times have significantly enhanced the user experience. The ability to write custom logic has allowed them to limit invalid requests and reduce the load on their servers, enabling them to repurpose servers for more advanced uses. The improved observability capabilities have enabled them to move from a defensive to a proactive posture, allowing them to plan and predict rather than just play defense. They are now better prepared to handle unexpected usage and are able to spend more time working on their core purpose: mapping the world. They are also working on building more customization into their platform, including localized versions of maps.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Significant reduction in page load times, from 5-10 seconds to almost instant
  • Reduced server load, allowing servers to be repurposed for more advanced uses
  • Decommissioning of older servers, reducing overall admin load

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