RealTime IT News

Amazon Gets Into Content Delivery Network Biz

Amazon today announced CloudFront, a self-serve, pay-as-you-go content delivery network service that aims to put Amazon in the company of tenured content delivery network (CDN) providers like Akamai, Limelight and CDNetworks.

Currently in beta, CloudFront is aimed at users needing frequent access to Web site components, developers distributing software and small businesses publishing media files. The offering builds on Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) wider efforts to deploy a number of cloud-based services for application developers.

"Customers asked for a way to globally distribute most frequently accessed content," Adam Selipsky, Amazon Web Services' vice president of product management and developer relations, said in a statement. "CloudFront provides low-latency, inexpensive content delivery and simple integration with Amazon S3."

The move seeks to capitalize on growing efforts by enterprises to seek cheaper ways to distribute information, given tightening tech budgets that are putting the squeeze on data management efforts. CDN providers typically promise simpler data provisioning and cost savings over the expenses associated with distributing content housed on companies' own networks, which they must design, install and manage.

Pricing for the new CloudFront service starts at 17 cents per gigabyte (GB) for the first 10 terabytes (TB) delivered, and decreases incrementally to 9 cents per GB for 150 TB delivered each month. Users also need to pay 10 cents per 10,000 data requests.

CloudFront also becomes the latest part of the company's wider hosted Web Services (AWS) offerings, which also includes offerings like the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud computing service and SimpleDB -- a service for running queries on structured data. AWS claims 440,000 users, according to Amazon.

The news also marks the latest effort for the e-commerce giant to build new services on top of its two-year-old S3, which stands for "Simple Storage Service." The online storage effort initially targeted developers needing online housing for their data. As of February, there were 330,000 registered users, according to Amazon.

To use CloudFront, customers place original file versions in an S3 storage area -- called a bucket -- and register it as a distributable file with CloudFront. Normally, the file to be distributed by the service gets a unique URL with a CloudFront.net domain, although users can also map their own domain names to the file.

One industry expert said CloudFront represents a niche approach for those not needing hefty security features when it comes to sharing data. Traditional CDN costs are tied to both service-level needs and security options, such as encryption, that protect data being sent and while in transit.

"Users can determine their own level of delivery service, which is interesting, but there doesn't seem to be any security aspect around the service," Charles King, principal Analyst Pund-IT, told InternetNews.com. "This is basically information provisioning, which could be valuable as long as the data in the S3 bucket doesn't need to be secured while in delivery."

Amazon's CloudFront site does not list any security features in CloudFront. Requests for clarification from Amazon's Web Services team were not returned by press time.