James Governor's Monkchips

Amazon CloudFront: Simple Caching and Naming

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Amazon CloudFront is a new distributed caching mechanism, designed to get data closer to the user. Amazon says:

It integrates with other Amazon Web Services to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments.

Which is nice and all- but I need to be hearing it from developers. Which is why this caught my eye the other day…

geek footnote: the bigass images on dopplr’s new city pages are served from Amazon’s Cloudfront CDN. And it was really easy.

Needless to say I twittered the comment, and discovered that others in the network are having similar experiences. See davejohnson. Of course these are just two data points, but the fact is my dial is turned very clearly to Matt Biddulph. He is someone I have the greatest respect for, and his technical chops are unimpeachable. I shared an office with Matt and learned years worth of web development technique in months.

Its also very easy using twitter search to come up with further agreement. see @jalegre:

Very happy about Amazon CloudFront, about 100-120 msec for static files like images, js, etc… in Spain (going to France). Faster than S3

Its not rocket science its findability. Meanwhile from a marketing perspective Amazon service naming is impeccable. The company hasn’t put a foot wrong since it started marketing its excess capacity to developers, and naming is very important in framing a market. On Twitter I said:

in other news – cloudfront- what a brilliant product name. descriptive, evocative, right on the money. others could learn from amazon naming


  1. Thanks for my link to tweeter. Nice article. After using CloudFront few days the only drawback is sometimes changes are not instant like S3.

    For new content I have seen that connects to S3, gets data, and distributed.

    But when trying to update a file the caching systems goes its way, and there is no way of telling CloudFront easily to update files right now, at least on S3 Organizer Firefox extension.

    So if someone updates a profile photo, if you use S3 you know changes will be instant. If you use CloudFront, will be faster, but user could or could not see the uploaded picture.

    And as Amazon says, if you need update a file and distribute must contact Amazon.

    I guess amazon in the following months will come up with a method to say “distribute now” so that changes are instant on a file. They are not doing this now so their network is not saturated I imagine.

  2. jalegre,

    We don’t worry about updates to files at Dopplr: we just generate a new ID every time we change any image (and therefore a new URL), and update our pointer to it in the database. The old versions can be cleaned up from S3 from time to time using a batch job, and we know that everyone is always seeing the latest version.

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