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Amazon's cloud spreads into content delivery

Pay-as-you-go caching

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Amazon's ever-cumulating cloud is today rolling into the business of speedy Internet content delivery.

The online bookseller today flipped the beta switch on Amazon CloudFront, a new service that caches high-traffic content on the company's worldwide network of edge locations so it's always near the end-user for low latency goodness.

The service itself isn't novel, with vendors like Akamai and Limelight already firmly entrenched in the content delivery biz. This type of thing even has its own acronym for you to remember (CDN for either Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network, depending on who you ask). Store that one away for later.

Amazon's spin on CDN (see, useful already) is offering it on a pay-as-you-go model rather than longterm contracts. That's either good news for small businesses that commonly can't afford such luxuries or a potential money pit, depending on the end-user's love for their web browser's "clear cache" and "reload" buttons.

CloudFront is designed to compliment the rest of Amazon Web Services...er...services, like S3 storage and EC2. Customers store the original versions of content (photos, video, music, applications, etc.) into an Amazon S3 "bucket," call up an API that returns a unique domain name for the content, then link to it on a web site or web application.

Amazon has 14 edge locations around the world where content can be cached at present. Interestingly enough, the list of spots released today also would seem to shed light on the locations of Amazon's data centers, which it doesn't like to share.

The locations are:

United States of A

  • Ashburn, Virginia
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • St. Louis, Missouri

Europe

  • Amsterdam
  • Dublin
  • Frankfurt
  • London

Asia

  • Hong Kong
  • Tokyo

Pricing depends on where the content is stored. Requests from Europe and US cost $0.17 per GB for the first 10TB transferred out per month. Hong Kong requests cost $0.21 per GB for the first TB per month. Japan requests costs $0.22 per GB for the first TB per month.

The price per GB decreases slightly when bandwidth reaches 40TB, 100TB, and 150TB+. Amazon has a CloudFront pricing calculator if you want to get into the nitty-gritty.

"Because our costs vary by location, pricing for data served from edge locations outside the US varies, and is currently slightly higher," said Amazon's Jeff Barr on the AWS blog. "You will also pay the usual S3 price for the 'origin fetch' which takes place when a requested object is transferred from S3 to an edge location, and for storage of the object in S3." CloudFront is available now in beta and is currently being pitched at web developers and businesses. ®

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