Amazon CloudFront

Easy Content Delivery Via the AWS Services

If your business is looking to migrate to cloud-native or virtual servers and services, you’ve probably considered Amazon AWS as an option. Being one of the “Big 3” cloud providers, AWS is an outstanding solution for businesses to massively scale their offerings. AWS services can handle any demand you throw at it, without so much as blinking a metaphorical eye. 

There are some businesses, however, that have very specific needs, such as delivering larger files to customers. This can be in the form of videos or other large-format/bulky media. If your business opts to go with a company incapable of meeting demand, you could wind up with customers having less-than-ideal experiences. In this day of constantly streaming media, no one is willing to settle for choppy, buffering video.

To solve the problem of delivering larger media, Amazon created CloudFront.


What is CloudFront?

Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) that provides a globally distributed network of proxy servers that cache larger media files to improve access speeds to customers wherever they may be. Like all of Amazon’s cloud offerings, CloudFront is offered as a pay-as-you-go service. 

As of 2020, CloudFront is operating from 205 different edge locations on 6 different continents and with proxy servers located in Europe (United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany, and Spain), Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and India), Australia, South America, Africa, and several major cities in the United States. When a user requests content that is served via CloudFront, the request is routed to the edge location that can provide the best possible performance.

The routing of CloudFront requests is handled through the AWS backbone to successfully and speedily deliver the requested content. If the content is already in the edge location with the lowest latency, the content is delivered immediately. If the content isn’t at the most efficient edge location, CloudFront retrieves it from an origin that has been defined by you (such as an Amazon AWS bucket or a web server) as the definitive version of the content.

CloudFront isn’t just limited to delivering video files, but also entire websites, APIs, .html, .css, .js, and image files. Whatever you need to get to your customers and clients, CloudFront can help you.

What is a Proxy Server?

To better understand what CloudFront does, it’s important to know about proxy servers. Effectively, a proxy server is any machine that translates traffic between networks and/or protocols. The proxy serves as an intermediary between a client requesting a resource and a server that provides the resource. 

Proxy servers can be used to:

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    Improve security.
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    Secure LAN (Local Area Network) activity.
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    Control website access.
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    Save bandwidth by caching files or compressing traffic.

One of the biggest differences between CloudFront and a regular proxy server is that CloudFront doesn’t compress content. In fact, CloudFront doesn’t make any changes to content, in order to optimize the delivery. Instead, what CloudFront does is accelerate the delivery of content by moving it closer to the user, to minimize the hops required to satisfy the request.

Benefits of Using CloudFront

CloudFront offers several benefits that will not only go a long way to appease your customers but help your company save money. Some of the benefits include:

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    CloudFront makes it possible for your clients to access your content much faster than if you were delivering files and sites via the standard methods.
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    Cost savings
    Your company only pays for the content you deliver through the CloudFront network. There are no minimums or upfront fees.
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    Because CloudFront uses Amazon’s worldwide infrastructure, you can be sure your content will be delivered with a level of reliability other competitors might not be able to offer.
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    With CloudFront, a single API call makes it easy to get started using the service.
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    CloudFront automatically scales, depending on demand.
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    CloudFront is available globally, so you can be sure there’s an edge location near your users.
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    Website acceleration
    Dramatically speed up the delivery of your website.
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    Static or dynamic content
    CloudFront can be used to speed up the delivery of both static and dynamic content.
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    CloudFront includes AWS Shield Standard and AWS Web Application Firewall to protect your content.
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    AWS Integration
    Integrate any of the Amazon services with CloudFront. All of these services can be accessed from the same console for easier management.

Use Cases for Amazon CloudFront

Let’s now take a look at some of the popular use cases for Amazon CloudFront.

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    Accelerating static website content delivery. If your website consists of things like images, style sheets, and JavaScript , CloudFront can not only speed up the delivery of that content but keep it secure.
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    On-demand and live streaming video. If your company relies on the ability to serve video content to customers and clients, CloudFront can handle both Video On Demand and streaming formats such as MPEG, DASH, Apple HLS, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, and CMAF.
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    Global availability. Use CloudFront to make content quickly accessible across multiple geographic locations, while minimizing the need for EC2 instances (thereby cutting costs).
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    Web Applications. If you deliver web applications from your site, CloudFront can dramatically speed up the delivery of those apps.
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    Amalgamate services. If you have multiple services hosted from different domains, you can amalgamate them into a single domain or cache.


If you’re looking for the best possible delivery of your company’s content to clients and customers, CloudFront might well be your best option. With the ability to cache content and retrieve it from the best possible location, all the while running on the world’s most powerful network backbone, CloudFront is a powerful option for drastically improving your content delivery, while saving money at the same time.

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