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Amazon Expands The Cloud With Content Delivery Service

The service is similar in concept to networks operated by Akamai and Limelight, which use low latency, high speed data transmission to distribute digital content.
Amazon Web Services on Thursday said that it is developing a content delivery service that will allow Amazon Simple Storage System (S3) customers to deliver files upon demand quickly and efficiently.

The as-yet-unnamed service is similar in concept to the content delivery networks operated by Akamai and Limelight, which provide low latency, high speed data transmission to facilitate the distribution of digital content. It is being tested by a small group of Amazon Web Services (AWS) beta customers and will be made available to all AWS customers before the end of 2008.

Tal Saraf, general manager of the AWS content delivery service, said while pricing had yet to be determined, the service would hew to AWS' pay-per-use, no-contract philosophy.

Adam Selipsky, VP of product management and developer relations at AWS, said that Amazon is developing the service in response to customer interest. "We have a large and varied customer base for Amazon S3 and some of the significant use cases for it are about distributing a popular object," he said. "A lot of those customers have asked us for a method of distribution."

Initially, the service will deliver data over HTTP connections. Eventually, it will be able to provide security, authentication, and streaming.

In a blog post announcing the launch of the new service, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels points out that the "cloud computing" metaphor suggests that the location of servers and customers doesn't matter -- everyone is in the "cloud," after all.

While "location transparency" is desirable for users of cloud computing services, Vogels says cloud computing developers cannot afford to think that way. They need more control, to deliver data and services from edge locations, rather than from the far side of the "cloud."

"[A]s much as we would like to see the cloud to be transparent, the transport of network packets is still limited to the speed of light (at best) and customers of cloud applications may experience a different performance depending on where they are located in relation to where the applications are running," said Vogels.