Amazon Adds Streaming Support to CloudFront CDN
In an act that could possibly bring them up to par with some of the better known CDNs in the market, Amazon Web Services (news, site) has tossed cheap audio and video streaming support into the mix with CloudFront, their typically low-key service for content delivery.  

Easy Access

Essentially, like every other streaming tool, Amazon’s new feature provides end-users an alternative to requiring their visitors to download full media files.

"Many customers have told us that an on-demand streaming media service with low latency, high performance and reliability has been out of reach -- it was technically complex and required sales negotiations and up-front commitments," explained Tal Saraf, CloudFront's general manager.

Accordingly, CloudFront is designed for speed (streams connect from a worldwide network of 14 edge locations) and to be accessible to anyone with media content. The steps to getting started go something like this:

  • Upload the original versions of your files into an Amazon S3 bucket
  • Create a distribution to register that bucket with Amazon CloudFront through an API call
  • Use your distribution’s domain name in your web pages, media player, or application
  • Pay only for the data transfer and requests that you actually use

One user, Daniel Rhodes of a video sharing website called Vidly, claimed it only took him five minutes to implement the service. “…Vidly was able to both cut costs and offer additional features that significantly improved the in-video experience for our worldwide audience,” he added.

No Strings Attached and You Get What You Pay For

Keeping in line with the rest of Amazon’s Web services, Amazon CloudFront requires no up-front investment, minimum fees or contracts, and again, customers only pay for what they use. If you’re in the United States, data transfer cost will look something like this:

  • US$ 0.170 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out
  • US$ 0.120 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out
  • US$ 0.100 per GB – next 100 TB / month data transfer out

…and so on.

Amazon charges less where their costs are less, so if you’re interested in pricing for say Hong Kong or Japan, you can check that out here.

Gaining Traction

Of course, the new development poses no threat to big names like Hulu; However, if Amazon continues to develop CloudFront over time (which we think they will) then the tool certainly has the potential to steal customers away from small to mid-sized companies that charge much more for their monthly service.

It’s not an overnight change in the CDN landscape, but it will nevertheless be interesting to follow.