Three Use Cases Where You Should Use Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is likely not the most common and known service in the AWS family. Nevertheless, it proves to be a very interesting alternative to S3 or other products alike when you aim not to the storage in itself, rather to delivering content for your appliance. Indeed, CloudFront is a content delivery web service with “low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments”. Despite that, I see that CloudFront is often poorly used or unused at all. So, to make clear what it is thought for and how to take advantage of it, let’s see 3 typical use cases where you should use Amazon CloudFront.

Three use cases where you should use Amazon CloudFront

Replace S3 with CloudFront when your userbase is geographically distributed

S3 is typically used to store and deliver data for your appliance. Unfortunately, this is a poor choice when the userbase is geographically distributed and you can’t focus your storage on a particular area of the world to achieve the lowest possible latency. On the other hand, CloudFront has a global network of so-called “edge locations”, which are data centers spread around the world, all replicating the content you would like to deliver to your user. Every time a resource is asked for by end users, the request is automatically routed to the nearest edge location, in order to achieve high-performance delivery of the content. In addition to that, you can even set different domain aliases for your CloudFront distribution, that is, having cdn1.mydomain.com, cdn2.mydomain.com, and so on, all pointing to the same CloudFront distribution. This allows parallel downloads and improves, even more, the performance of your appliance.

Harness the Origin Servers feature to cache dynamically generated content

When Cloud Front was launched, it was a feeder of content stored on S3 only. You put your objects on Amazon S3, CloudFront takes and caches them on the edge locations, then delivers them from there. This was quite a strong limitation for certain applications, but later on, Amazon introduced a feature called “Origin Servers” that quite changed the game.

Adding a Custom Origin Server allows CloudFront to feed content from anywhere, even from your on-premises web server, or a machine from another cloud provider. The great thing behind that is that you can deliver even automatically generated content via CloudFront, and use CloudFront to replace a custom caching solution. CloudFront allows you to tune quite finely its behavior, especially thanks to HTTP headers like Cache-Control, who control how long CloudFront should cache a given resource. Another nice feature is that CloudFront supports Etag headers.

Do you know what Etag is? They are a sort of a hash, or a digest, of the given resource. Modern browser uses them to save bandwidth. When a browser requests something that is available in browser’s cache, it will send a special If-Match header with the ETag of the resource from the cache. CloudFront will compare this ETag with ETag from his cache and will respond with HTTP 304 Not Modified without sending the resource again. Just add Etag’s to your content on CloudFront and this behavior will be automatically triggered.

CloudFront caching on steroids: Whole-Site Delivery

If we can deliver even dynamically generated content, why not taking full advantage of it and move to a Whole-Site Delivery approach? In the typical usage pattern, CloudFront act as a CDN for static content only, typically hosted either on S3 or on your Custom Origin server. Nevertheless, we have just seen how you can use it to cache dynamic content from your origin server. So, what blocks from using CloudFront as a CDN for your whole website? The key idea here is to use CloudFront as a proxy for both S3 (where your static assets are stored) and your EC2 instance, or your on-premises Custom Origin server (where dynamic content is generated).

If this seems a bite off more than you can chew, fear not: a lot of websites already use an approach like this, with a significant improvement of their performance. The idea that user-personalized pages can’t be delivered via CDNs is simply a myth. Truth is that network and path optimizations allow CloudFront to speed up dynamic content without losing a bit in customization. Setting up this architecture isn’t difficult at all, you will probably need some time to perfectly tune it, but your profits in term of performance, better scalability, improved availability, and reduced costs will go way beyond that.

Avatar

Written by

Andrea Colangelo

Software Engineer with a solid focus on QA and an extensive experience in ICT. Above all, Andrea has a very strong interest in Free and Open Source Software, and he is a Debian and Ubuntu Developer since years. Non-tech interests include: Rugby, Jazz music and Cooking.

Related Posts

Avatar
Jeremy Cook
— September 17, 2019

Cloud Migration Risks & Benefits

If you’re like most businesses, you already have at least one workload running in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud migration is right for everyone. While cloud environments are generally scalable, reliable, and highly available, those won’t be the only considerations dri...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Migration
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 12, 2019

Real-Time Application Monitoring with Amazon Kinesis

Amazon Kinesis is a real-time data streaming service that makes it easy to collect, process, and analyze data so you can get quick insights and react as fast as possible to new information.  With Amazon Kinesis you can ingest real-time data such as application logs, website clickstre...

Read more
  • amazon kinesis
  • AWS
  • Stream Analytics
  • Streaming data
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 6, 2019

Google Cloud Functions vs. AWS Lambda: The Fight for Serverless Cloud Domination

Serverless computing: What is it and why is it important? A quick background The general concept of serverless computing was introduced to the market by Amazon Web Services (AWS) around 2014 with the release of AWS Lambda. As we know, cloud computing has made it possible for users to ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 3, 2019

Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition: A Vendor-Neutral Comparison

Google Cloud Vision and Amazon Rekognition offer a broad spectrum of solutions, some of which are comparable in terms of functional details, quality, performance, and costs. This post is a fact-based comparative analysis on Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition and will focus on the tech...

Read more
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • AWS
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Google Vision
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 30, 2019

New on Cloud Academy: CISSP, AWS, Azure, & DevOps Labs, Python for Beginners, and more…

As Hurricane Dorian intensifies, it looks like Floridians across the entire state might have to hunker down for another big one. If you've gone through a hurricane, you know that preparing for one is no joke. You'll need a survival kit with plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and n...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • New content
  • Product Feature
  • Python programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 27, 2019

Amazon Route 53: Why You Should Consider DNS Migration

What Amazon Route 53 brings to the DNS table Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) service offered by AWS. It is named by the TCP or UDP port 53, which is where DNS server requests are addressed. Like any DNS service, Route 53 handles domain regist...

Read more
  • Amazon
  • AWS
  • Cloud Migration
  • DNS
  • Route 53
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 22, 2019

How to Unlock Complimentary Access to Cloud Academy

Are you looking to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Cloud Security, Python, Java, or another technical skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendars for August 23, 2019. Starting Friday at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), Cloud Academy is offering c...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Avatar
Michael Sheehy
— August 19, 2019

What Exactly Is a Cloud Architect and How Do You Become One?

One of the buzzwords surrounding the cloud that I'm sure you've heard is "Cloud Architect." In this article, I will outline my understanding of what a cloud architect does and I'll analyze the skills and certifications necessary to become one. I will also list some of the types of jobs ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Computing
Avatar
Nitheesh Poojary
— August 19, 2019

Boto: Using Python to Automate AWS Services

Boto allows you to write scripts to automate things like starting AWS EC2 instances Boto is a Python package that provides programmatic connectivity to Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS offers a range of services for dynamically scaling servers including the core compute service, Elastic...

Read more
  • Automated AWS Services
  • AWS
  • Boto
  • Python
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 13, 2019

Content Roadmap: AZ-500, ITIL 4, MS-100, Google Cloud Associate Engineer, and More

Last month, Cloud Academy joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider, and it put us in an excellent position to solve a massive skills gap problem. As a result of this collaboration, you will see our training library grow with additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Google Cloud Platform
Avatar
Adam Hawkins
— August 9, 2019

DevSecOps: How to Secure DevOps Environments

Security has been a friction point when discussing DevOps. This stems from the assumption that DevOps teams move too fast to handle security concerns. This makes sense if Information Security (InfoSec) is separate from the DevOps value stream, or if development velocity exceeds the band...

Read more
  • AWS
  • cloud security
  • DevOps
  • DevSecOps
  • Security
Avatar
Stefano Giacone
— August 8, 2019

Test Your Cloud Knowledge on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform

Cloud skills are in demand | In today's digital era, employers are constantly seeking skilled professionals with working knowledge of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. According to the 2019 Trends in Cloud Transformation report by 451 Research: Business and IT transformations re...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud skills
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure