Amazon CloudFront

Amazon Web Services – CloudFront (aka “AWS CloudFront”, or just “CloudFront”) is an easy-to-use service that will accelerate the delivery of files to your end users by serving these files from the closest data center (the one that is closest to each user). As with most AWS services, you only pay for what you use (i.e. the amount of CDN traffic).

CloudFront was first launched as a way to distribute files from an S3 bucket. It has since been expanded to that you can feed the CDN from a regular web server as well. This is more convenient for typical web sites, because the CDN will pick up new files on-demand, i.e. you don’t need to upload them the S3 first.

Configuration is pretty easy. You first need to sign up for an AWS account (this requires a credit card, of course). Once you have yor AWS account, you then create a CloudFront distribution and configure it to get files from an S3 bucket, or from a web server.

You can configure CloudFront from the AWS web console using your web browser, or from various command line tools (e.g. s3cmd) or you can use their web-services API to access CloudFront from your own software. There are libraries for most of the popular languages (Ruby, Python, etc.) which makes it quite painless to get started.

CloudFront offer a few advanced features that make it especially useful:

  • Logging of each request (which is free) so that you can analyze the traffic.

Pricing for CloudFront is straightforward, you pay for the bytes served to your end users. Prices may vary slightly be geographic region. For pricing details, see the AWS CloudFront pricing page.

If you are currently using CloudFront, or have used it recently, please comment on what you like/dislike about it. This will let other readers know what to expect, and help them select the best service for their needs. Thanks!


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