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CloudFront is a web service that speeds up distribution of your static and dynamic web content, for example, .html, .css, .php, and image files, to end users. CloudFront delivers your content through a worldwide network of edge locations. When an end user requests content that you're serving with CloudFront, the user is routed to the edge location that provides the lowest latency, so content is delivered with the best possible performance. If the content is already in that edge location, CloudFront delivers it immediately. If the content is not currently in that edge location, CloudFront retrieves it from an Amazon S3 bucket or an HTTP server (for example, a web server) that you have identified as the source for the definitive version of your content.
This concept is best illustrated by an example. Suppose you're serving the following image from a traditional web server, not from CloudFront:
(The image is owned by NASA and comes from the Visible Earth website, http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/.)
You're serving the image using the URL
http://example.com/globe_west_540.jpg. Your end users can easily navigate to
this URL and see the image, but they probably don't know that their request was routed from one network to another—through
the complex collection of interconnected networks that comprise the Internet—until the image was found.
Further suppose that the web server from which you're serving the image is in Seattle, Washington, USA, and that an end user in Austin, Texas, USA requests the image. The traceroute list below (courtesy of www.WatchMouse.com) shows one way that this request could be routed.
In this example, the request was routed 10 times within the United States before the image was retrieved, which is not an unusually large number of hops. If your end user were in Europe, the request would be routed through even more networks to reach your server in Seattle. The number of networks and the distance that the request and the image must travel have a significant impact on the performance, reliability, and availability of the image.
CloudFront speeds up the distribution of your content by routing end users to the edge location that can best serve the end user's request in a worldwide network of edge locations; typically, requests are routed to the nearest CloudFront edge location in terms of latency. This dramatically reduces the number of networks that your users' requests must pass through and improves performance. End users get lower latency—the time it takes to load the first byte of the object—and higher data transfer rates. You also get increased reliability and availability because there is no longer a central point of failure. Copies of your object are now held in edge locations around the world.
For a list of the locations of CloudFront edge servers, see The Amazon CloudFront Edge Network on the CloudFront detail page.
|How Do I?||Relevant Topics|
Learn if CloudFront is right for my use case
Use CloudFront distributions
Create a download distribution
Create a streaming distribution
Migrate from Amazon S3 to CloudFront
Understand the security protocols used with CloudFront
Use the CloudFront API