The Journal Of A Linux Sysadmin

Amazon Announces Its Own Content Delivery Network: CloudFront

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Today Amazon announced the public beta of Amazon CloudFront, their AWS service for content delivery. This is the service that many users of Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) have been waiting for a long time. Even if S3 was never a ‘real’ CDN (content delivery network) it was used by many sites to serve static content. The main limitation of this approach was that it had no geographical awareness as content delivery networks usually have; the fact that S3 is highly scalable and well priced made this solution acceptable on S3.

CloudFront is the answer to all users’ requests about using S3 as a CDN, delivering the content using a global network of 14 edge locations. CloudFront uses S3 to store the original file, and caches copies of the content close to end users locations, lowering latency when they download the objects.

Amazon CloudFront uses the following edge locations: United States * Ashburn, VA * Dallas/Fort Worth, TX * Los Angeles, CA * Miami, FL * Newark, NJ * Palo Alto, CA * Seattle, WA * St. Louis, MO Europe * Amsterdam * Dublin * Frankfurt * London Asia * Hong Kong * Tokyo

CloudFront advantages:

  • simple to implement; uses S3 as a ‘backend’;
  • cost effective – pay only for what you use; priced very well just as S3 with prices starting at $0.170 per GB for content delivered in the US and Europe, and $0.210 per GB for content delivered in Asia;
  • reliable – even though this is launched as beta and there is no SLA, we can expect to have a very reliable service from Amazon built on the experiences of s3 and ec2.

CloudFront disadvantages:

  • this is a http only service; if you will need https for ex. you will not be able to do that.
  • no control over caching; CloudFront will cache the file from your S3 bucket and serve it based on the closest dns location; this cache can expire in case of infrequent used files.
  • no stats (besides the aws bill of course ;) ).
  • this is not trying to compete with the big CDN solutions out there, as it will be hard to match their features, but to provide a simple and cost effective solution that everybody can use.

In conclusion, this is great news from Amazon, and I am sure that even as I am writing this, many users that are serving their content from S3 have just finished switching over to CloudFront. For more details about CloudFront check out the AWS CloudFront page.