Amazon updates CDN for dynamic content

Amazon(s amzn) is updating its Cloudfront content delivery network (CDN) to handle dynamic, interactive web content.

CDNs help web sites ensure that users get the web pages they want faster, typically by caching popular pages closer to likely users. Over the years, CDN providers like market leader Akamai(s akam) have moved on from static pages — collections of text and photos — to streamed video. Now the battle is all about dynamic or interactive sites — online games for example, that require bursts of traffic flowing back and forth.

Amazon’s CDN has for some time delivered static and streaming content for business customers but relied on partners including Akamai for much more bandwidth intensive dynamic content. (Check out CDN  Planet for a good overview of the major CDN players.) According to the Amazon Web Services blog, several changes to Cloudfront should speed up that delivery.

For example, Cloudfront will now let customers serve content from multiple sources —  from Amazon’s own S3 storage service, dynamic content from Amazon EC2, as well as from third-party sites — from a single domain name. That, the company said, simplifies implementation.

By adding more dynamic delivery capabilities to Cloudfront, Amazon is starting to encroach more on turf of its CDN partners, including Akamai.

In response to another  Cloudfront update, an Akamai source earlier this year told me that he clearly had to watch what Amazon is doing in CDNs but that to date, Cloudfront only dealt with static content — leaving the heavy lifting on dynamic content to Akamai. That is clearly starting to change. Akamai remains the dominant CDN power with more than 1,700 CDN sites on its network, compared to 30 locations for Cloudfront, but it’s clear that Amazon is not content to rest on its laurels.

Check out Amazon’s infographic for a better look at the Cloudfront changes.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user .faramarz