Amazon's CloudFront Takes On Akamai

Last Updated Nov 19, 2008 7:27 PM EST

Amazon Web Services on Tuesday launched CloudFront, a pay-as-you-go content delivery network. The move is likely to accelerate already brutal pricing in the content delivery network market, which includes Akamai and Limelight Networks among others.

CloudFront's biggest feature is that there are no up-front commitments and long-term contracts. Content delivery networks speed up the Internet by bringing content closer to your location via so-called edge servers. Often when you click on a Web page you'll see it's connecting to an Akamai server. Amazon is likely to make two ripples: Smaller media players will begin using content delivery services and pricing for established leaders may get squeezed.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels notes that its network of edge locations will be global with the following locations:

  • United States: Ashburn (VA), Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Palo Alto, Seattle and St. Louis
  • Europe: Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and London
  • Asia: Hong Kong and Tokyo
Those locations aren't nearly as extensive as what Akamai, which has 34,000 servers in 70 countries, offers. But Amazon's entry into the market will still be disruptive.

Also see: Akamai: Weathering a price war; economic slowdown

Add it up and Amazon is accelerating the commoditization of content delivery services. These services are increasingly being bundled into other higher-end offerings anyway.

Amazon details (statement, blog) where CloudFront fits into its Web services portfolio:

Built on Amazon's own highly reliable infrastructure, CloudFront lets developers and businesses deliver HTTP content through a worldwide network of edge locations. The service caches copies of content close to end users for low latency delivery, while also providing fast, sustained data transfer rates needed to deliver popular objects to end users at scale. CloudFront works seamlessly with Amazon S3, where users store the original versions of objects delivered through the service. Customers need only put their objects into an Amazon S3 bucket and then register that bucket with the new service using a simple API call, which then returns a domain name used to access content through the network of edge locations.

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.
Credit: ZDNet
  • Larry Dignan

    Larry Dignan is editor in chief of ZDNet and editorial director of CNET's TechRepublic. He has covered the technology and financial-services industries since 1995.