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CloudFront is a well-known AWS service that improves the delivery speed of both static and dynamic web content such as picture files, HTML, JavaScript and others. CloudFront attempts to deliver it as quickly as possible (often immediately). When the content isn't available within the edge location, however, CloudFront will retrieve it from the origin, like an EC2 instance, then deliver it.

CloudFront speeds up content distribution by sending all user requests via the AWS network to the edge location. In doing so, it serves the content in the most effcient way. To put it another way, it's the CloudFront edge server that allows for quicker delivery to the viewer. The AWS network can reduce the number of network requests that visitors make. As a result, performance is improved, and visitors to the site enjoy reduced latency.

This article aims to provide you with an understanding of CloudFront's capabilities. We’ll clarify the CloudFront setup procedure, use cases, accessibility, and some other bits.

An introduction to CloudFront

When users request particular files, a specific role is performed when you set up CloudFront for your content delivery process. Here's a quick rundown of how CloudFront responds to file requests from users.

A user goes to a website or app and requests specific files. Users can make requests for HTML and picture files. After that, the DNS will send a request to the CloudFront POP, or edge location, which will handle that request. As a result of the delay, the closest edge site will be chosen. The user's request is then sent to the edge location.

CloudFront verifies the cache for all of the user's requested files inside the POP. CloudFront delivers the same files to the user if they are accessible in the cache. However, if the files aren’t found in the cache, the process continues with the next phase of integration. CloudFront then checks the user request against all other requirements in the distribution in such cases. The request for such files will now be sent to the origin server's chosen file types. Image files, for example, will be routed to an S3 bucket, whereas HTML files will be forwarded to HTTP servers.

The files will subsequently be sent back to their appropriate edge locations by the origin servers. Once the initial byte is loaded from the origin, Amazon CloudFront starts delivering the files to the users who have requested them. The files are added to the cache inside that edge location by CloudFront. So, if another user requests that file in the future, it’s there for them.

Set up

You'll need to establish a CloudFront distribution to tell it where you need the content served from. However, before we talk about distribution, you'll need to learn how to set up CloudFront for content delivery. 

The procedure is as follows:

You must provide the origin servers, which might be an Amazon S3 bucket or an HTTP server. The retrieval of files is the responsibility of the origin server. CloudFront will search for the files on this serve, then distribute them from the edge locations.

You must now upload your files to the origin server you set up. Images, web pages, media files, and other file types are referred to as “objects”. Anything that can be served via HTTP can be used as an object to upload.

Now, as previously mentioned, you must establish a CloudFront distribution to inform CloudFront about the origin servers from which you want it to receive files in response to user requests. You can use CloudFront to record all of the requests or activate the distribution immediately once it’s established.

CloudFront then gives a domain name to a newly formed distribution. The domain will be shown in the console. Then, you can choose to use a different domain name for the same.

The configuration you selected will then be sent to all the edge locations or POPs via CloudFront. And these servers are housed in data centres all around the world.

Use Cases

Let’s see some examples of how AWS CloudFront may be used in a variety of scenarios.

1. Accelerate static website content delivery 

According to the user's demands, CloudFront can improve the delivery of static information inside the site or app. Style sheets, pictures, JavaScript, and other forms of static content are some examples.

You might want to utilise the AWS network and edge servers with CloudFront to provide viewers with the best possible experience. You can provide your visitors with a quick, secure, and dependable experience each time they visit your website through using CloudFront.

Using an Amazon S3 bucket is one of the most straightforward ways to store and distribute static information. Using Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront together provides many benefits. It enables you to limit access to certain S3 data using the OAI (Origin Access Identity).

2. Live streaming and video-on-demand

It allows you to broadcast your media material to people worldwide. This feature is available for live events and video files that have been recorded in advance.

Note, you must use popular formats such as Apple HLS, MPEG Dash, CMAF, or Microsoft Smooth Streaming via CloudFront for video-on-demand streaming. You'll also need to cache the media fragments inside the edge if you want to broadcast any of the live streams. Multiple requests for the same streaming media content will be sent in the most efficient sequence possible, reducing the strain on the origin server.

3. Edge customisations

When you execute serverless code on the edge, you have a lot more options for content modification and the viewer's experience. Furthermore, this procedure is carried out with little delay. In addition, if the origin server is down for maintenance, you can create a warning to show to the visitors. It's crucial since seeing a generic HTTPS message on the server may damage your brand's reputation.

Also, you might want to build a particular function that allows users to authorise content accessibility control before the request is handled by Amazon CloudFront. Using Lambda@Edge with CloudFront is the best method to accomplish this use case. You can modify the content delivery elements of this connection in many ways.

4. Serve private content with Lambda edge customisations

You can set up the CloudFront distribution for delivering private content from a custom origin by integrating CloudFront with Lambda Edge. You could use this to utilise signed cookies or URLs. You're also open to using different integrations or methods to limit access to the origin server.

You could utilise the whitelisting CloudFront IPs inside your firewall using Lambda Edge and CloudFront. You could also send any secret or private information using a custom header.

5. Specific field encryption via system processing

When using CloudFront to set up HTTPS, you must include secure connections for the origin servers from end to end. Furthermore, by explicitly having field-level encryption in the system processing elements, you can guarantee data security. HTTPS security is fundamental, but with improved field encryption, you might want to limit which apps on the origin server have access to specific data.

Note: You'll need to provide a public key to CloudFront to set up this kind of field encryption.

Accessing AWS CloudFront

After you've grasped all of the above, the next thing is how to get access to it. Here are some suggestions:

AWS SDKs are used to get access. We prefer to develop in the language in which AWS provides an SDK. As a result, you may use the same credentials to access CloudFront. SDKs are designed to make the authentication process more accessible and to interact with the development environment you've chosen. Congrats, you now have full access to all CloudFront commands!

Access via AWS CLI- the AWS CLI is an open-source (and therefore free) tool that means users can interact with various AWS services by typing commands into a shell.

Suppose you want to use a given programming language that doesn't have an SDK. In that case, you can look at the CloudFront API materials to learn about the API's activities and the possibility of making specific API calls. 

Benefits of CloudFront

1. Content is safe

AWS CloudFront is a highly secure Content Delivery Network (CDN) that protects both the network and the applications. At no additional cost, all CloudFront users get the automatic safeguards of AWS Shield standards.

CloudFront also works in tandem with AWS WAF and AWS Shield Advanced to protect your apps from a variety of sophisticated threats and DDoS assaults.

To ensure the safe transmission of your most sensitive information, CloudFront's architecture and procedures are fully compliant with PCI, DSS, HIPAA, and ISO. SSL/TLS is used to provide secure APIs or apps, and additional SSL features are enabled automatically.

The user easily creates as many custom SSL certificates as required using AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) and deploys them to your CloudFront distributions at no additional cost.

ACM automates certificate renewal, removing the overhead and costs associated with human renewal.

2. Creating a network is easy

The AWS CloudFront content delivery network is built on top of the growing global AWS infrastructure, which currently comprises fifty-five accessible zones spread over eighteen geographic regions.

In Bahrain, Hong Kong SAR, and Sweden, Amazon intends to create twelve more availability zones and four new Regions, as well as a second AWS GovCloud Region in the United States.

In fifty-nine locations across twenty-six countries, AWS CloudFront has 132 Points of Presence (121 Edge Locations and eleven Regional Edge Caches).

Our global network of Edge locations ensures that your applications are available, scalable, and performant for all of your clients, no matter where they are in the globe.
Read about Amazon Lambda's integration with SQs.

3. Outstanding performance

The AWS CloudFront content delivery network is designed to provide low latency and fast data transmission. CloudFront's intelligent routing is based on real-world latency measurements collected on a regular basis from popular websites like Amazon.com.

CloudFront is connecting directly with several end-user ISPs and using the AWS backbone network to speed content delivery end-to-end.

As part of the quality service, CloudFront also provides regional edge cache locations to ensure consistently high cache hit rates throughout the globe.

4. CDN can be customised

With Lambda@Edge, the user can easily execute their code across AWS sites across the globe, allowing them to respond to end customers with little latency. Amazon CloudFront events, such as content requests from or replies to origin servers and viewers, often activate the code.

Transfer the Node.js code to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Lambda takes care of everything required to copy, route, and scale code with great accessibility at an AWS location on the user's end. The user only pays for the time spent working out; there is no fee if the code isn't executing.
Let's have a look at how Amazon ElastiCache works.

5. Economical

The assessment of Amazon CloudFront is simple: the user pays just for data transmission and asks that content be delivered to consumers.

There are no upfront charges or fixed platform costs with AWS CloudFront, no long-term obligations, no premiums for dynamic content, and no need for professional services to get started.

6. Other AWS Services are deeply integrated

Amazon CloudFront is tightly connected with and designed to operate with popular AWS services including Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Workout Cloud (Amazon EC2), Elastic Load Equalization, and Amazon Route 53 to help speed up DNS resolution of CloudFront-delivered apps.

AWS Lambda integration allows users to run custom logic over the AWS global network without having to deploy or manage servers. The user will be able to increase the speed of delivery of APIs by using Amazon API Gateway.

Final thoughts - is AWS CloudFront worth it?

This post is designed to introduce you to CloudFront. You should appreciate that Amazon CloudFront is a critical component of a content delivery strategy. Naturally, it acts as an excellent connection with other Amazon Web Services to increase the competence connected with it. That’s where we step in. Our managed AWS service means you can trust our AWS-certified solutions architects to build a cost-effective and efficient solution bespoke to your site’s needs. In fact, why not read about what we did with the Stroke Association?