Translation Proxies Explained: The Power of The Global Delivery Network

Smartling's powerful Global Delivery Network translation proxy enables brands to launch content in new languages faster than any other solution.


Delivering an amazing user experience to a new audience, in a voice that feels familiar, is quite an impressive undertaking.

Smartling has just the right solution to help your business do just that -- our translation proxy known as the Global Delivery Network (GDN).

What Is The Global Delivery Network?

The Global Delivery Network is the fastest, most cost effective way to deploy multilingual websites with near-zero IT involvement.

When GoPro needed to launch complete online shopping experiences in six new languages, the GDN enabled Smartling to shrink this massive undertaking into just a three week process. GoPro had all six of their new shopping sites online and ready to go, just in time for the holiday season.

With such a rapid launch into major markets, GoPro managed to gain universal traction, and now everyone knows what a GoPro is because they sold so many units. Their brand has become synonymous with the go-to action cameras.

Getting a little more technical, the Global Delivery Network is a translation proxy that sits on top of your existing website and provides users with a translated version when requested.

There's a bit more that goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen, but that's part of the power of the GDN -- we built an infrastructure so you don't have to take on the extra investment. And our customers love it.


As a cloud-based solution, the GDN is cost-effective and agile, eliminating the need to internalize any code, build any website copies, or source global network servers to handle long-distance content delivery. That's all on us.

While there are several translation proxies available on the market, not all are created equal. For example, Smartling’s GDN delivers content faster because we start serving up content to the end user continuously as the page loads, instead of rendering the entire page before delivering a single byte of data to the end user (which is how other translation proxies are configured). Check out CSA Research’s report, Re-assessing Translation Proxy Solutions, to learn even more.

And because Smartling’s GDN is integrated with our best-in-class translation management system, customers can rapidly deploy new websites faster than ever. This enables companies to realize the first-mover advantage, like what GoPro accomplished a few years ago when they launched their website in six new languages in just three weeks.

How Does The Global Delivery Network Function?

We don't want to get too bogged down in the technical details, but we have found that it can be helpful to understand what's going on under the hood so you can better determine if the Global Delivery Network is the right solution for your existing technology stack and localization strategy.

So, to understand exactly how the GDN works, we need to first analyze how a normal website request would be processed:

Your website is built in English, and hosted on local servers in the United States.

  1. When a user visits your website, a request is made to the servers that host your website to deliver the requested content.
  2. Without any consideration of the user's location, the existing copy of your website is delivered -- in this case the English version.

No matter where that user is from, or what language they speak, they will always receive the same English experience that everyone else does.

Now, when we look at how the Global Delivery Network works, there is an entirely new layer involved in the process of delivering content. Our infrastructure, which is hosted globally on Amazon Web Services, sits between your website and the end user's experience.

The GDN automatically ingests all content on your webpage into the Smartling database, and parses that content into strings. These strings are then available for human translators to come in and translate all this content so it’s available whenever requested.


Here’s what the experience looks like for a French speaking user that is accessing your site from France:

  1. When a French user requests your English page, the request first goes to the GDN before it hits your website's servers.
  2. The GDN requests all the English content on the page and identifies the strings of content that need to be translated.
  3. Smartling automatically pulls from your previously translated content, replaces all of the strings, and delivers the content to the user in their native language.

The beauty behind the GDN is the sheer simplicity of the process. Without any development overhead, your business does not need to invest additional resources in deploying and hosting new translated webpages. We have built that infrastructure so you don’t have to.

Benefits of a Translation Proxy

The Global Delivery Network is more than just a standard translation proxy. We have built a scalable, robust and secure delivery network that enables businesses to adjust and launch new content on the fly, and with minimal developer input required.


Brands like AdRoll have managed to cut their time-to-market by more than half thanks to the GDN.

1. Simple

Perhaps the largest benefit is the sheer simplicity of the GDN. Your developers do not need to implement any massive infrastructure, or new servers and very minimal coding are required.

The GDN works seamlessly with existing CMS and web applications. Once the GDN is implemented, very little maintenance or configuration is required, so there is near zero IT involvement.

2. Scalable

We built the GDN with scalability in mind to ensure your experience can handle whatever traffic is thrown at it.

In fact, the GDN can handle up to 2,700 requests every second, which accumulates to seven billion requests per month. We even built the proxy with SEO in mind, translating both URLs and keywords to help bring in new traffic.

3. Secure

To ensure the highest level of security, we built the GDN to be both PCI Level 1 certified and SOC2 compliant. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DDS) is set by the largest financial institutions to secure credit and debit transactions against data theft and fraud.

Meanwhile, SOC2 auditing ensures that all service providers meet a minimum security requirement, focusing on five "trust service principles," including security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. In short, we made sure the GDN is as protected and secure as can be.

4. Powerful

Deployed on some of the world’s largest, dynamic, personalized sites, including e-commerce, major airline, and hotel websites, the GDN is powerful enough to handle even some of the most complex experiences. For example, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) managed to deliver a personal touch across 5,600 hotels in 16 different languages.

Yet, without being overly complicated, the Global Delivery Network makes it easy to manage translations, customize experiences and quickly adapt to website redesigns.

5. Reliable

At the time of this writing, the Global Delivery Network has been up and running for a solid 25 months. We have not experienced a single outage since July of 2017.

We feel so confident in this reliability that we back our services with a guarantee of 99.99% uptime. The GDN can even be configured with a static cache, that way in-language content will always be displayed no matter the circumstances.

When is the Best Time To Leverage the GDN?

At the end of the day, Smartling's Global Delivery Network is the fastest and most cost-effective way to deploy multilingual websites and web apps securely and reliably, with almost no coding.

If your brand is looking to move quickly, and maintain the flexibility necessary to address the latest market demands, then the GDN will help you do just that. Smartling also provides pre-built direct connectors that can integrate well with existing technology stacks that work well in some instances. Our Solution Consulting team can help you figure out which is be st.

Want to learn if the Smartling’s translation proxy, the Global Delivery Network, will be right for your tech stack and project goals? Book a meeting and we’ll help you find the best fit!

About Matt

Matt Grech is the Content Marketing Manager at Smartling, responsible for growing Smartling awareness and brand content. As a digital content writer, Matt applies his journalistic lens to content, helping users deepen their understanding of the brand, services and technology provided by Smartling. Matt has previously contributed to an industry leading Unified Communications resource, as well as local newspapers where he developed his unique ability to investigate, interview, and transform complex problems into simple solutions.