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

Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— April 3, 2020

Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online

Remote proctoring for all AWS certifications Cloud Academy is an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, and we are happy to announce all AWS certification exams are available online!  What does this mean for you? You can stay focused on your certification goal. Or you can start a certifica...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • AWS Certifications
Connie Benton
Connie Benton
— April 1, 2020

How To Build a Career with AWS Certifications

From Iaas and PaaS solutions to digital marketing, cloud computing reshapes the world of technology. As the influence of this technology grows, so does investment. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on cloud computing-related services each year. This influx is continuing to inc...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Certifications
Vijayakumar Athithan
Vijayakumar Athithan
— March 27, 2020

What is Cognito in AWS?

Web applications usually allow a valid username and password combination for successful sign in to the application. Modern authentication flows incorporate more approaches to ensure user authentication. When using AWS, this is no exception, thanks to the abilities and features offered b...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Cognito
  • Solutions Architect
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— March 20, 2020

The 12 AWS Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?

As companies increasingly shift workloads to the public cloud, cloud computing has moved from a nice-to-have to a core competency in the enterprise. This shift requires a new set of skills to design, deploy, and manage applications in cloud computing. As the market leader and most ma...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 17, 2020

Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: How Do AWS Certifications Increase Your Employability, How to Become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer, and more

With everything going on right now, it's likely that the only thing you've been reading lately is related to the coronavirus pandemic. It's important to stay informed during these times, but it's also good to jump into something that can take your mind off of the current situation for j...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— March 13, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 6, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— March 4, 2020

AWS Certifications: How Do They Increase Your Employability and Progress Your Career?

AWS certifications are no walk in the park. They’re designed to validate in-depth, specialist knowledge and comprehensive experience, often requiring months of dedicated studying to earn even for those already working with the cloud platform. But the rewards that AWS professionals ca...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • certification
Avatar
Chandan Patra
— February 21, 2020

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: AWS Cloud Search Choices

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: What's the main difference? Let's compare AWS-based cloud tools: Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch. While both services use proven technologies, Elasticsearch is more popular, open source, and has a flexible API to use for customization; in comparison, CloudS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloudsearch
  • elasticsearch
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— February 13, 2020

Cloud Academy Content Roadmap Updates

Welcome to our Q1 2020 roadmap. This is the content we plan to build over the next three months, between February 1 - and April 30, 2020. Let's look at some of our roadmap highlights. Atlassian Bamboo for CI/CD We had a lot of requests for practical guides on how to apply DevOps tool...

Read more
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kubernetes
  • Machine Learning
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— February 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Git Labs, CKA and CKAD Lab Challenges, AWS and Azure Learning Paths, AGILE, and Much More

We just kicked off our first Free Weekend of 2020. This means we've unlocked our Training Library for just 72 hours. Until Sunday at 11:59 pm (PST), you can get unlimited access to our industry-leading learning paths, courses, certification prep exams, and our most popular hands-on labs...

Read more
  • agile
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Linux
  • OWASP
  • programming
  • red hat
  • scrum