Late last month (November 18, 2008), Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the public beta of a new service for content delivery. The new Cloud Computing service, CloudFront, provides developers an easy way to distribute HTTP content to end users with minimal latency delays and provides high data transfer speeds.
CloudFront integrates with other AWS services and, like the other AWS services, does not require any long-term commitment or expensive upfront cost, has the self-service account interface and utility pay-as-you-go payment model.
CloudFront is exciting because it provides a mechanism to deliver HTTP content throughout the world by leveraging the Amazon network of edge servers. These edge servers are distributed throughout the world in order for the content cached at these servers to be physically closer to the end users in order to lower the latency in delivering the content.
CloudFront integrates with AWS S3 by allowing you to store the original versions of your data in an AWS S3 bucket (S3 is Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, which is a web service that allows any size chunk of data to easily be stored and retrieved). The beauty is that the original data objects can be stored in S3 and, after a simple registration process, are seamlessly accessible through the AWS edge servers throughout the world.
At the moment, the dominant players in the Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network (CDN) space are Limelight, Akamai and CDNetworks. CDNs are used by most high-scaling websites including, for example, MySpace.com and the National Basketball Association (NBA). The CloudFront offering in this space provides a lower-cost alternative to the existing players.