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Amazon CloudFront / S3 Small Object Test Results

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Old Unix and Linux 05-22-2009
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Amazon CloudFront / S3 Small Object Test Results

After some initial confusing results measuring "before-and-after CloudFront/S3" performance, Dennis Opacki, Systems Operations Manager for Amazon Cloudfront offered to help. Working with the test results from a number of members of The UNIX and Linux Forums pulling a small 1623 byte gif object with curl -s -w, we compiled the test results. For each location, we discarded the fastest and slowest times for the Origin Web Server (in Ireland) and the CloudFront (CF) sites and averaged the remaining three samples. The last two columns in the table below represents the difference in performance between the objects hosted. The data seems to suggest a fairly significant performance improvement (with Amazon CloudFront) for all locations worldwide except Ireland, which is not surprising, since Ireland is the location of the original server.


.Web Server (WS) in IrelandCloudFront (CF)Compare Performance (CF/WS)
Client LocationWS First-byte(s)WS Total Transfer(s)CF First-byte(s)CF Total(s)First-byte (%)Total Transfer (%)
Ireland 0.096 0.0970.1010.1016%4%
Netherlands0.1230.1240.0810.081-34%-35%
St Paul, MN0.4720.4740.2840.286-39%-40%
Sofia, Bulgaria0.1340.1340.0810.081-40%-40%
Milan, Italy0.1110.1120.0420.042-63%-63%
Seattle, WA0.5150.5160.1330.134-74%-74%
Redwood City, CA0.3240.3270.0410.045-86%-86%
Ashburn, VA0.1880.1890.0220.022-88%-88%
Hong Kong0.9440.9440.0480.048-95%-95%

As expected, the most improvement was from users in the US and Asia (Hong Kong), since the original web server resides in Ireland.

I want to thank all the members of The Unix and Linux Forums who took the time to run the tests and for Dennis of Amazon for helping compile the results.

Congratulations Amazon Web Services and CloudFront!!

Note: Our test results suggest that static web content hosted on Amazon's CDN can certainly help global user response time downloading (small) objects. This is what you would expect from a CDN.
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Old Unix and Linux 06-15-2009
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FYI: I have also posted these results to the AWS CF forum.

-----Post Update-----

Earlier, I forgot to thank Stefan for his vB forum BBCODE that makes posting a nice table possible, BB Code [table]. Thanks Stefan!!
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I've not posted for a while, happy with CF/S3 performance - a happy camper as they say.....

However, something has always "bugged me" about CF/S3, and that is the need to create an origin-server side sync method to update S3/CF when dynamic content on an origin server is added (or existing content expires in the CDN - pull only from S3, etc).

For example, if you have a site where users upload their avatars, you need to sync with S3, either in near-time (best) or batch to keep S3 current. The same is true for any site with dynamic content. It is a lot of unnecessary extra work to initiate this on the origin service side, when it can be initiate from the client-user side.

In fact, I just noticed that SimpleCDN offers this service.... during a discussion at the link below, titled /clientscripts over to Amazon S3/Cloudfront?

/clientscripts over to Amazon S3/Cloudfront? - vBulletin.org Forum

And in particular, this reply to someone who introduced the SimpleCDN feature in the discussion thread:

vBulletin.org Forum - View Single Post - /clientscripts over to Amazon S3/Cloudfront?

I have been informed that SimpleCDN does have a feature where, if a file is
required from the CDN and it is not yet uploaded, SimpleCDN will pull it from the origin server. This is a very good feature and we are considering to try it now because of this. (!!)

Also, I note that S3/CF do not have this functionality (presently) and is not currently on the AWS roadmap.

I think this feature is critical now, especially them more I think about it. In fact, it is a "game changer".... as folks can move to the CDN and then (effortlessly)"on demand" populate the CDN by having the CDN (or S3 in the AWS case) pull from the origin server. Also dynamic changes to any site means almost "zero configuration" and no requires sync / upload to the CDN... and yea this is goodness for all!

As a fan of Amazon CF/S3, I would like to see this feature soon. More than likely, we will move some user-dynamic content over to SimpleCDN because of this feature that, if effect, works like "cache-miss, pull from origin server"). Very user friendly.... and also aligns with "the spirit of the Internet".... (like DNS, etc. where content is cached and pulled from the origin server when not available, cache timeouts, etc.) Having S3 as "the final frontier" is sub-optimal.

Right now, it is (1) Try CF, if CF does not have a file, (2) pull from S3, if S3 has no file, return "file not found" (404 I guess...) .... Better would be:

(1) Try CF, if CF does not have a file (2) pull from S3, if S3 has no file, (3) try origin server, if origin server has not file, then return "file not found".

Or, if you really want to serve AWS customers, offer this option..... :-)

(1) Try CF, if CF does not have a file (2) pull from origin server, if origin server has not file, then return "file not found" (or try S3 .... :-)

I assume that AWS wants to require people to store in S3 and will not permit CF to pull from the origin server..... OK... business is business, but please permit, at least, S3 to pull from origin server.

I will update some stats from our SimpleCDN tests soon.
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Old Unix and Linux 01-15-2010
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Very interesting. I think it would be interesting to test with multiple instances in the same region e.g. us-east-1c v/s instances in different regions. Although the first case sounds more interesting. What it would mean that if I had amazon instance say in virginia and in NJ, I should ideally get back the same response time.
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