What is Amazon CloudFront?

Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network designed by Amazon Web Services. AWS’s proprietary CDN, CloudFront, is fantastic at increasing the speed and reliability of content delivery to any user. So if you’re curious about what CloudFront is, how it works, and whether you should be looking into using it, you’re in the right place! Need to choose a CDN soon? We’ve got you covered.

How Does Amazon CloudFront Work?

Amazon CloudFront works by delivering your content to end-users using the AWS edge servers. As a result, CloudFront and other edge-centric solutions focus on connecting servers close to significant populations, skipping multiple steps, and rerouting over the Internet to deliver content more directly.

When a user requests content from a website running with CloudFront, such as when loading or downloading an image, Amazon Cloudfront routes the request to the Edge location closest to them. So, compared to moving data from a central server somewhere in another continent, CloudFront relocates the data closer to the user, rather than the user having to go an extended distance for the data while adding further latency. If that doesn’t make much sense yet, here’s an example.

Let’s say a user browses your website and needs an image. They’ll access the URL and see the image. In most cases, they’d have to go through a complicated web of networks and servers (known as the Internet) to reach the one that hosts your image. If the website of choice runs Amazon’s CloudFront service, they’d connect to the nearest edge server location where CloudFront would check if it already has that image stored. If not, CloudFront will fetch that image from the origin server via the Internet and store – or cache – it for later use. The next time a different user wants to see the same image, it’ll load blazingly fast without extra load on the origin server. 

It’s important to know that even though CloudFront caches static content and improves loading times, it can also be used to improve dynamic content queries too. If, for example, your webpage or application is dynamic, meaning every single page is different and generated on the origin server, then CloudFront can help out with improved loading times by lowering latency simply by utilizing the existing AWS Backbone network; connecting users with virtual servers running in AWS..

CloudFront Highlights

Hopefully, the above definition helped a bit with understanding CloudFront. If you’re at least a little interested, we’ve got some more good news. Atop our favorite benefits of CloudFront, there are quite a few highlights to keep in mind. It’s important to remember that AWS is part of a trillion-dollar company, so there are a few standout aspects.

Highly Secured

AWS is a shining example of security, under multiple layers of security, AWS Shield Advanced, and AWS WAF, all of which are top of the line and used with CloudFront.

For sensitive data, Amazon runs its network through encrypted, flexible firewalls and services like AWS Shield Standard, a “layered security perimeter against multiple types of attacks.” In addition, these services help boost optimization atop, assisting in SSL/TLS and HTTPS encryption from origin to destination.

Programmable and DevOps-Friendly

Amazon CloudFront comes complete with a fully-featured API, built to create and customize your CloudFront setup. In addition, you can deploy your programming, workloads, and code, making for an easily customizable and configurable platform.

Plus, with service’s benefits like device detection, support for various modes and customizations, and more, there’s a lot that a developer can do with the CloudFront platform and the rest of the AWS family.

Globally Distributed

Over 300 access points, 90 cities, and 47 countries cap off CloudFront, and the number is always growing. Amazon is a global company, and it’s not too hard to understand how far-reaching its platform and services reachare. There’s international representation in edge servers for near-instantaneous reactions and low buffering from you to your end-users.

Cloudfront_Statistics

Cost-Effective

Like much of AWS, CloudFront is on a pay-as-you-go plan, meaning you can save by not paying for what you don’t use. In addition, AWS offers discounts for volume purchases, free tiers, and custom pricing. For example, if you opt to go with Cloudvisor, you can get at least 50% off of the standard CloudFront pricing.

The company also provides free data transfer between CloudFront and other AWS services, making it much more cost-effective to access your data as a whole through interactions and connections within AWS.

Cloudfront_Pricing

Integrated with Key AWS Services

One part of CloudFront’s top-notch speed and efficiency is its connection and integration with AWS services. CloudFront runs on the AWS backbone network, comprised of servers and network equipment scattered worldwide in more than 300 places.

Built on the same platform, you gain access to the rest of AWS’ services and abilities, including S3 storage, EC2 compute, and the optimization benefits of AWS. AWS charges users for using non-native AWS CDN like Cloudflare when they move data from AWS to another provider. So there’s a lot to do with AWS, and it carries over to CloudFront, a part of the family.

AWS CloudFront = CDN?

Yes, AWS CloudFront does = a CDN. Amazon’s widespread edge locations and “Points of Presence” make it a lot easier to cache and store content across the globe. Whenever a user accesses your content through the Internet, letting CloudFront connect to and cache the data transferred, others accessing the same content through the same edge location will have lower connection latency and delivery time.

Companies Using AWS CloudFront

While AWS competitors, Azure, Cloudflare, and more all have significant enterprise customers on their side, you can’t underestimate the power of CloudFront. On top of the obvious impact of Amazon using its services, you have some serious company power through stalwarts like:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • PBS
  • Sky News
  • Dow Jones
  • Discovery
  • NASA
  • Intuit
  • And more.

Companies in the hospitality industry like Marriott, product manufacturers like Canon, and public sector giants like NASA JPL and NOAA use CloudFront. From young startups to gaming companies and everything in-between, thousands of companies use Amazon CloudFront, atop the hundreds of big names and important faces.

The Bottom Line

Amazon CloudFront is a leading CDN provider, especially considering Amazon’s global reach and industry power. While some might think that makes CloudFront a dull, industrial product, it’s anything but. 

Amazon has managed to pack some serious power and efficiency into CloudFront, helping push your content at a faster and more efficient rate directly to edge servers by the users you have in mind. While there are countless competitors to CloudFront, they lack either the scale, versatility or the cost efficiencies of Amazon’s connections.

Nonetheless, integration with the AWS family is the cherry on top, allowing for the opportunity to build a great network and framework to bring content to your users instantly. If you have any questions about CloudFront implementation or need help boosting your AWS cloud infrastructure, reach out to Cloudvisor any time because we can provide at least 50% off the standard CloudFront pricing.

FAQ

What is the Main Benefit of CloudFront?

It has to be CloudFront’s global reach – while the cost efficiency and security are incredible, the real benefit is in the opportunity to access edge servers in dozens of countries around the globe.

Is CloudFront a Web Server?

Yes and no. Your content is stored elsewhere, whether on an AWS service, on-premises, or otherwise, before being transferred through CloudFront as a CDN. Web servers themselves hold and share content – CloudFront provides access to your content quicker by caching it on an edge server. 

Is Amazon CloudFront a CDN?

Yes. More definitely than a web server, CloudFront is a content delivery network, providing faster and more efficient access to your content by users all across the globe. 

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