Faster, More Reliable Content Distribution at a Lower Cost? Thank you CloudFront

Those of us old enough to remember downloading songs from Napster will recall how frustrating it could be due to the time-consuming, constant buffering process. Fast forward to 2021, when nearly everyone has access not only to streaming music on demand, but endless video content from Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and an ever- growing variety of media apps. It’s never been easier or faster to listen to music or view content whenever and wherever we desire it.

The reason for this huge jump in speed and convenience is content delivery networks, or CDNs. Once only afforded by large corporations like Apple and Facebook, the cloud now gives organizations of all sizes cost-effective access to CDNs. Amazon first introduced its CloudFront CDN back in 2008, and it has evolved into an easy-to-use, convenient add-on for AWS cloud customers. Today, Amazon CloudFront delivers content to end users with lower latency using a global network of 225+ Points of Presence (215+ Edge locations and 13 regional mid-tier caches) in 90 cities across 47 countries. CloudFront customers enjoy three distinct advantages: an enhanced user experience, financial optimization (FinOps) and greater security.

Enhancing the User Experience

End users are provided faster, more reliable content when it’s hosted on a CDN. That’s because the global network of edge locations puts the content physically closer to the user, whether that content is high-def videos or documents and data used for business applications. CloudFront also leverages Amazon’s highly resilient, fully redundant, global backbone network for superior performance and availability for end users. Moreover, it automatically maps network conditions and intelligently routes a user’s traffic to the most performant AWS edge location to serve up cached or dynamic content.

But most users aren’t aware of all of that. All they know is that they’re able to set their eyes (and/or ears) on whatever documents or rich media content they’re seeking without hassle or interruption. And as we know, this has become the expectation. Organizations simply can’t afford to deliver anything other than a seamless user experience.

Harnessing Cost Savings, or FinOps

AWS customers who use CloudFront benefit from a cost-efficient and customizable pay-as-you-go model. Keeping everything “in house” with AWS means there are no transfer fees for origin fetches from any AWS origin (or server). And at no additional charge, AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) lifts the burdensome process of purchasing, uploading and renewing SSL/TLS certificates. Simply put, the data-out charge you pay on AWS is cheaper when you use CloudFront (versus a competitive product).

Earlier this year, Amazon introduced the CloudFront Security Savings Bundle, which, in exchange for a monthly spend commitment, provides businesses with up to 30% savings on their CloudFront bill. Customers looking to take advantage of even steeper discounts and custom pricing can do so by agreeing to minimum traffic commitments typically in the area of 10 TB/month or higher.

Augmenting Security

CloudFront adds an extra layer of protection for websites, as the CDN puts additional security features at the edge location. AWS Shield Standard uses application-level and network-level security assets to keep data safe against common network and transport layer DDoS attacks. Organizations wishing to protect against more complex infrastructure attacks have the option to add products such as AWS Shield Advanced and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF).

Contact Lightstream today to find out how we can help you implement Amazon CloudFront and integrate it with other AWS services such as AWS Shield for DDoS mitigation, Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon EC2 as origins for your applications and Lambda@Edge to further enhance the user experience by running custom code to personalize content and improve latency.