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Got Cloud-Computing? Ditch Your CDN
Do I need a CDN if I have Cloud Computing?
Over the past year, the term Cloud Computing has made headlines. There are several new entrants to the cloud computing industry. The idea is simple, you have all these computers or servers directly connected to the cloud (internet) and you have massive computing power at your fingertips. Companies like Rackspace, GoGrid, Amazon, and AT&T all offer some form of cloud computing.
The services available from these companies range from simple “Cloud Storage” to fully scalable virtual servers in the cloud.
When to use Cloud Computing?
The great thing about these services is the instant setup and “unlimited scalability”. When you want a new website, a few clicks of the mouse will bring up a new Linux or Windows box. They make it easy for you to pre-install services like SQL, Mail and in some cases applications like Wowza or Windows Media streaming server.
The setup process is usually wizard-led, and they take the guesswork out of installing server software and services.
Several cloud computing providers partner with content delivery networks (CDNs) to offer cloud storage. Essentially, you put your files in cloud storage and they’re on a CDN.
Sounds good, why should I consider a CDN?
All these services are on virtualized boxes and shared resources. They are not dedicated. Services are also not fully managed. You will be responsible for software updates, patches, licenses, etc. You don’t really have to worry about hardware or bandwidth though. The idea behind cloud computing is that you simply pay more and they dedicate more resources to your servers.
If you have an existing data center or web servers, you may be hesitant to move your websites or web servers to a cloud computing provider. This may mean abandoning hardware and software you’ve already invested in. You may consider building new servers in a cloud environment to reduce costs or gain flexibility.
If you have a lot of websites, it may make sense to consider a cloud provider versus a regular web host provider. You’ll have more control over your domains, and depending on your provider, you’ll be able to scale more easily. In addition, you will have full root access to the web servers to configure them as you wish. This will be a dedicated server package from the web host provider.
If you’re going to use a cloud computing company instead of a CDN, thinking you can build your own CDN in their cloud, think again! Start by asking your cloud computing vendor the following questions: How many data centers do they have? What kind of understanding do they have? What are their viewing bandwidth/output capabilities? Where in the world is it hosted? Will your servers be replicated anywhere in the world or just in the US, in just one data center? Does it cost more to ship to Europe, Asia or Australia? What if you need streaming servers for videos, can they do it? What about mobile delivery? Do they offer token-based authentication? Pseudo flash streaming? What about encoding and transcoding? Does your cloud computing vendor have content management software or video? Do they support live video streaming? These are all things to consider if you’re thinking of using a cloud computing company instead of a CDN.
A Tier 1 CDN like Limelight or Akamai will have thousands of servers worldwide to host your content. They will offer all the support services related to content delivery. The CDN will support streaming and HTTP progressive downloads. They will probably have Adobe, Microsoft and Apple servers. A CDN will be able to support live events. Additionally, you can accelerate your entire site with Akamai’s DSA or Limelight’s Limelight Site services. You are not limited to just videos with a CDN, any content can be delivered through a CDN.
You’ll probably find that integrating a CDN is easier and less time-consuming than building new servers and maintaining them. In some cases, with a CDN, this can be as simple as pointing a CNAME to the CDN or simply uploading your content to them.
Of course, the price of cloud computing is more attractive than CDN. But you need to find out what your needs are and find the right combination of services.
by Mosso Rackspace
- 50 GB storage space
- 500 GB monthly bandwidth
- 10,000 computing cycles. Compute cycles measure how much time it takes to process your applications on the Mosso cloud. 10,000 compute cycles is roughly equivalent to the monthly capacity of a server with a modern 2.8 GHz processor. per month
- Prices go up from there.
- $.19/hour of RAM (add more RAM, pay more) $136/month for 1GB of RAM plus
- $.50/GB outgoing transfer
- 10 GB of storage is included at $.15/GB thereafter
- Free load balancing with F5 load balancers
- Up to $.10/hour up to $.80/hour “On Demand”
- $325 setup up to $2600 setup + $.03/hr up to $.24/hr for “reserved” server
- $.10/GB for incoming traffic
- $.10 to $.17/GB for outgoing traffic
- Storage is additional via S3 service
- Other services are additional
AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service:
- The price has not been disclosed
The cost of a CDN service varies greatly depending on what you want and where you get it from. With Tier 1 CDNs expect a minimum commitment per month and sign a 1 year contract. With a Tier 2 CDN like Level3, CDNetwork, Edgecast, etc., you may get a monthly contract and lower prices, but you may not get the same service.
CDNs will cost anywhere from $.05/GB to $1.00 or more per GB, depending on what you commit to. Note, only the largest contracts from hundreds of TB to petabytes will fall into the $.05/GB range. When you add support services, you will also increase your monthly bill.
Rackspace seems to win out on price, though as you add CPU cycles and memory, these can add up significantly. Rackspace is also known for its customer service, which counts for a lot. Amazon’s pricing seems complicated and confusing, on the surface it looks cheap, but if you add in your I/O, storage, and class of service, their pricing isn’t that aggressive. Also, Amazon is not known for customer service at all. Getting technical support can be time-consuming. GoGrid’s pricing is very close to Rackspaces and their product seems top notch, also free load balancing is very important so don’t count GoGrid out. Finally, AT&T only recently announced a cloud storage product. Their website does not disclose prices. Good luck getting someone on the phone at AT&T to help you understand their product.
If you are looking at cloud computing to increase website performance, you may want to consider a CDN first. Check why your site isn’t working. Do you need more databases, do you need more mail servers? Need more domains? These are all reasons for adopting cloud computing. But if you have a lot of video, music or software downloads or your pages are slow, then a CDN is the way to go!
Ideally, your best solution would be to use a cloud computing company and a CDN. This will give you optimal performance, flexibility and reliability.
If you have any questions about this topic, please post them here.
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