Tag Archives: content delivery network

Choosing a CDN in a whim

I had to look into CDN’s some time ago, to find a suitable temporary solution for a problem at work. There are a lot of players in this field, Akamai and Amazon (Cloudfront) being market leaders of some sort, but there’s also Microsoft with their Azure CDN (which we already had some experience with), other big guns such as Rackspace and Level3 and specialized shops such as CacheFly, CDNetworks and NetDNA as well. So how to choose?

Results only relevant for Belgium (and even then …) avg. speed (ms) for 64kB speed delta % from fastest
softlayer 121.3 100%
gogrid 123.0 101%
microsoft azure 132.0 109%
level3 132.0 109%
amazon cloudfront 133.3 110%
maxcdn 136.7 113%
cotendo 138.7 114%
cachefly 147.3 121%
rackspace 156.3 129%
highwinds 226.3 187%
voxcast 227.7 188%
flexiscale 317.3 262%
amazon s3 eu 417.3 344%
invalid result
575.0 NA 474% NA
google appspot 668.0 551%
voxel nl 814.0 671%
amazon s3 us 932.0 768%
voxel ny 942.0 776%

Well, if you’re in a hurry, you could compare price and features via cdnplanet.com. The info might not always be complete, but it does give you a good first idea and you can always visit the CDN’s proper site for more details, can’t you?

After comparing features & pricing, you really should get an idea of the speed of these CDN’s, of their performance relative to your customers. I found this CDN Speed Test on cloudclimate.com very useful; it performs a live test of approximately 20 CDN providers, requesting a 64 kilobyte file 10 times for each CDN from within your browser. So if you can get a sample of your customers to perform that test and provide you with the results, you’ll have some very useful information about performance. Together with your overview of features and price, you should be able to make at least a vaguely educated decision, no?

To have an idea about performance for our market (Belgium), I asked some Facebook-friends to provide me with the results of the CDN Speed Test. Most data I received was for Telenet or Skynet/Belgacom, not coincidentally the biggest ISP’s here. You can see the aggregated results in that ugly table on the left (or a couple of paragraphs up, if you’re subscribed to the RSS-feed).

My conclusion: as I was looking for a pay-as-you-go (no obligations, no monthly fee) CDN for static files, with support for Origin-Pull, HTTPS and some administration features (for example to purge the cache and watch nice graphs), MaxCDN fit the picture pretty well. With a great introductory price ($40 for the first Terabyte and even less if you find the coupon code) and performance that is at 113% of the fastest competitor, they seem to have found somewhat of a sweet spot for my specific context.

The only problem; I’ve got to wait for a “GO” from some people higher up the food chain. Maybe I should already implement it on my blog, just for the fun of it?