This blog was last updated in October 2022.

The global content delivery network market size was valued at USD 15.47 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.0% from 2022 to 2030 as per a report(1).

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are an integral part of an internet business strategy. Most of the user data is now on the internet.

Whether it’s a simple search on Google or a video streaming on Netflix or YouTube, the end-user looks for speed while browsing.

Imagine, you are streaming a live video on Netflix or Amazon Prime, but despite a good internet speed on your mobile, the video buffer is too slow. So, what ensures that the user is able to watch the content of a website, an app, or a game with blazing fast speed?

You might say – a CDN. Not completely, but yes, it plays a major role in ensuring that the content is delivered as fast and quickly as possible.

The above explains CDN in a nutshell. Let’s try and dig a bit deeper to know more about what is CDN and how it works.

“Before the Acronis implementation, there was a huge risk that malware could take down our company. Now, with Acronis, I can say that we’ve done everything possible to protect our data from an attack.” CIO, high performance manufacturing company.
Read details in a report by Forrester.
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What is CDN?

A CDN can be understood as a system of distributed networks or servers that deliver web content like pages, images, videos, etc. to a user, based on his geographic location, hosting server, and content delivery server.

This means majorly three factors are involved when a CDN works – the location of the user, the location of the website or the hosting server, and the location of the content delivery server.

How CDN works?

The CDN comes in action when a user requests a webpage on the internet. It redirects the request received from originating site’s server to the delivery server closest to the user.

The CDN stores cached images and other content of the site. It further contacts the originating server to share any other content that wasn’t cached previously.

Here, the server closest to the user will respond to the user’s request. For ex: If someone from America is trying to access a website based in India, instead of responding directly from the originating site’s server, the request will be answered through the local CDN server situated in America.

This not only reduces latency but can help reduce bandwidth consumption, block any direct attack on the host server, secure applications and do much more.

Also Read: Do you still need a Dedicated Backup Server?

As per the results revealed by a study, done by Akamai, an average online shopper expects a website to load in 2 seconds and will not wait for more than 3 seconds before leaving the site.

CDNs solve the arduous problem of latency by virtually shortening the distance between hosting servers and the users.

While there are plenty of content delivery network providers in the market, for a beginner it is difficult to choose the ideal fit. Thus, we have come up with a thorough CDN comparison to help you make the right decision and know:

  • Features of the best content delivery network provider
  • Comparison: Amazon CloudFront Vs Google CDN Vs IBM Cloud CDN Vs Azure Content Delivery Network Vs Alibaba Cloud CDN

CDN Comparison: Alibaba Cloud Vs Amazon Vs Azure Vs Google Cloud vs IBM

#1 Alibaba Cloud CDN

Overview: CDN services offered by Alibaba Cloud contain distributed network built over the transport network. It also contains edge node clusters that are spread across different regions. It offloads network traffic from origin servers to reduce network congestion.

Alibaba Cloud CDN ensures accelerated video delivery by providing a cache hit ratio of over 95%. It can help in accelerating content delivery in several use cases like small images, on-demand video, large file downloads, live video streaming, audio streaming, etc. It offers a secure content delivery network that can be customized to fit unique business requirements.

Features:

  • Provides a graphical overview of features for simplified management.
  • Users can use EdgeScript to customize CDN.
  • Availability of over 28,000 global nodes and a data distribution rate of 120 EByte per year.
  • It provides HTTPs – secured acceleration to prevent data hijacking, tampering, or leakage.
  • All the CDN nodes have SSD configuration. This helps in reducing response time and increasing availability.
  • It supports load balancing among multiple vCPUs for facilitating efficient memory usage and management.
  • It also supports an advanced anti-leech feature for better control and security.
  • It supports use cases like website acceleration, download acceleration, on-demand streaming, live streaming, and mobile accelerator.
  • It supports pay-as-you-go billing for cost-effectiveness.
  • It also offers Secure CDN(SCDN) along with the CDN solution to protect resources better.
  • It allows customers to use EdgeScript (ES) to customize configurations.
CDN Comparison
Alibaba Cloud CDN – Content Delivery Network Flow for On-demand streaming applications

#2 Amazon CloudFront

Overview: Amazon CloudFront is known for its fast content delivery network service that securely delivers videos, data, APIs, and applications to customers with low latency and high transfer speeds.

CloudFront is a developer-friendly environment that allows them to customize features to meet different requirements.

It acts as the front door to any user application thus, stopping any attacks before it actually reaches the origin server. SSL/TLS encryption and HTTPS further ensure application security.

CloudFront has access controls and thus, the user can control who can access the website.

Features:

  • CloudFront is fully integrated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and thus seamlessly works with its services like Amazon S3, AWS Shield for DDoS mitigation, Amazon EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, AWS elemental media services, and Lambda@Edge.
  • Users need to pay only for what they use with pay-as-you-go pricing and private committed pricing with no upfront fees.
  • Runs on the global network of AWS with 410+ PoPs (points of presence) with automated network mapping and intelligent routing.
  • Users can cut costs with customizable pricing options, consolidated requests, and zero fees for data transfer out from AWS regions.
CDN Comparison
Source: AWS
  • It’s TCP optimized to enable static as well as dynamic content for better user performance.
  • Deliver the entire website with Cloudflare by using a single domain name. This accelerates both the upload and download of the content of your website.
  • Reduces cache churn through tiered caching and de-duplication optimization.
  • Protects against the network and application layer denial-of-service-attacks (DDoS) through – AWS shield, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53 and AWS Web Application Firewall.

#3 Azure Content Delivery Network

Overview: Microsoft Azure Content Delivery Network offers secure and reliable content delivery with global coverage and massive scalability.

Its tight integration with Azure services allows users to get started instantly and scale in minutes.

Microsoft Azure CDN helps the user to reduce load times, improve speed, and save on bandwidth on a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

It is an ideal CDN for managing websites or applications, streaming games, other media, IoT endpoints, etc.

Microsoft also offers a modern cloud CDN service – Azure Front Door, that is designed to provide high performance, scalability, and security. It combines CDN technology with intelligent threat protection that is easy to set up, deploy, and manage.

Users have the options to choose between Azure CDN and Azure Front Door for their CDN service requirements. In this CDN comparison blog, we have just covered the features of Azure CDN. If you need more info on Azure Front Door, you can check here.

CDN Comparison
Source: Microsoft

Features:

  • Deeply integrated with Azure services – Web apps, storage, media and cloud services.
  • Ability to manage sudden traffic spikes with a globally distributed presence.
  • Developer friendly environment allows quick building and deployment of applications with API support.
  • Ability to enable HTTPS for your domain names for securing your content, without any additional cost or certificate management.
  • Easily integrates with Verizon and Akamai to build and customize content delivery strategy with the choice of providers.
  • Gain useful insights with real-time and granular advanced analytics.
  • Azure CDN from Microsoft has 118 POPs across 100 metro cities.

#4 Google Cloud CDN

Overview: Google Cloud CDN leverages the globally distributed edge points of Google to speed up the content delivery for user websites and applications.

It processes the request coming from Google Compute Engine and Google Cloud Storage.

Users can enable Cloud CDN once they successfully set up HTTP(S) Load Balancing, that too with a single checkbox.

CDN Comparison

Source: Google

Sites running Google Cloud CDN do not require any regional DNS as they get a single IP address that can run everywhere.

In terms of security, Cloud CDN by Google secures site content using SSL/TLS and without any additional charges.

Alike Amazon CloudFront, Google Cloud CDN is completely integrated with Google Cloud Platform.

It can support up to 5TB objects, making it an ideal choice for managing media and gaming traffic.

Features:

  • Anycast feature helps users manage all content from a single IP address and get low latency.
  • It supports HTTP/2 – the new and more efficient HTTP protocol along with HTTP/1.1 and HTTP/1.0.
  • Users can provide their own SSL or TLS certificate to secure their site content by using a domain name of their choice.
  • With the invalidation feature, the user can take down the cached images and other content in under a minute.
  • Stackdriver logging integration allows the user to gain detailed information about each cache.
  • It serves any content originating from Cloud Storage buckets and Compute Engine VMs.
  • Charges are based on different incidents like cache fill bandwidth, cache egress bandwidth, and HTTP/HTTPS requests.

#5 IBM Cloud Delivery Network

Overview: IBM Cloud Delivery Network is powered by Akamai, and is worth mentioning in this CDN comparison.

It finds its use cases in a number of industry solutions – media, software, entertainment, banking, e-commerce, gaming, and many others. With Edge servers in over 36 countries, it aims to provide fast content delivery at affordable pricing.

Akamai’s presence is in nearly 1,700 networks in 136 countries. On the other hand, IBM has a global cloud footprint of 60+ data centers in 19 countries. This enables them to deliver content blazingly fast.

IBM-cloud-content-delivery CDN Comparison

Source: IBM

Features:

  • IBM Cloud CDN can be easily configured to serve content from the Host Server Origin as well as from the object storage endpoint.
  • Users can set up multiple origin servers with different paths.
  • Quickly remove or purge the cached content.
  • Set TTL (time to live) time which defines the amount of time (expressed in seconds) the edge server can cache content for any particular directory path.
  • Availability of metrics with graphical views.
  • High-quality streaming across multiple network types with video-on-demand performance optimization.
  • Ability to control who accesses the content based on geographical location with Geographical Access Control.

Note: The above services have been added in alphabetical order.

CDN Comparison: At a glance

Features
Amazon Cloud FrontGoogle Cloud CDNIBM Content Delivery Network
Azure Content Delivery NetworkAlibaba Cloud CDN
Points of Presence (PoP)410+1302200 in 36 countries118 across 100 metro cities2800 POPs
Pre-requisitesSign-up or create free accountThrough an existing HTTPS load balancerUser needs to create his IBM ID first - known as IBMidAzure account with an active subscriptionCreate an Alibaba Cloud Account and then activate CDN using CDN Console
PricingOffers three pricing options:
• AWS Free Tier: 1 TB of data transfer out; 10,000,000 HTTP or HTTPS
requests; 2,000,000 CloudFront Function Invocations
• CloudFront Savings Bundle: A self-service pricing plan that helps you save up to 30% on your CloudFront bill in exchange for a monthly spend commitment
for a one-year term.
• Custom Pricing: Available for users willing to commit minimum 10TB data transfer per month for 12 months or longer
More details here.
Pricing calculated as per cache lookup, cache egress, cache fill, cloud storage and other factors.
For ex: Cache egress pricing starts $0.02 - $ 0.20 per GB.
Calculate pricing here.
Pricing for static bandwidth for first 10 TB is 0.085 USD in North America and 0.17 USD in India. It differs according to the location and type of bandwidth – static vs dynamic
More details here.
Pricing dependent on features, plan type, Microsoft agreement, location, and other factors.
Calculate pricing here.
Basic services support two billing methods: Pay by Traffic and Pay by Bandwidth.
You might need to pay for value-added billing services.
Check the pricing here.
Instant SetupYesYesYesYesYes
InvalidationYesYesYesYesNA
Time to live feature (TTL)YesNAYesYesYes
IntegrationIntegrated with AWSIntegrated with Google Cloud PlatformAkamai IntegrationIntegrated with Azure ServicesIntegrated with Alibaba Cloud Services
Management of CDNAWS Management ConsoleNAIBM Cloud ConsoleManagement via REST API, .NET, Node.js, or PowerShellCDN Console
Video on DemandYesNoNoNAYes
Multiple CDNsNANAYesYesNA
Developer FriendlyYesNANAYesYes
APIYesNoYesYesYes
Origin PullYesYesYesYesYes
SSL/TLS Encryption supportYesYesWildcard Certificate and Domain Validation (DV) SAN CertificateYesYes
Bring your own certificateYesNoNo YesNA
Custom SSLYesNoNoYesYes (Paid)
Field level EncryptionYesNoYesYesAuthentication keys to encrypt URLs
Video Streaming optimizationYesNoYesYesYes
Large File optimizationYesYesYesYesYes
HTTP/2 SupportYesYesNAYesNA
HTTPs SupportYesYesYesYesYes
Geo Access ControlYesNAYesYesYes
AnalyticsYesYesYesYesYes
CustomizationYesYesYesYesYes
Real time StatisticsYesYesYesYesYes
SupportAWS SupportOffers differentDocumentation and forum supportIncluded in Azure SubscriptionMultiple plans with varying prices

Bottom Line:

To first decide which CDN platform to use, you should analyze why you need a CDN. A CDN is good for websites with larger traffic coming from more than one location. We hope you like our CDN comparison and found it informative.

“Acronis is directly responsible for saving our company 1200 hours per year for IT operations staff in backup and recovery workflows.” CIO, high performance IT company.
Read details in a report by Forrester.
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Once you analyze and evaluate your requirements, go for the CDN which meets your requirements.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this CDN Comparison article is for general information purposes only. Price, product, and feature information are subject to change. This information has been sourced from the websites and relevant resources available in the public domain of the named vendors on 05th October 2022. ZNetLive makes its best endeavors to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date, however, it does not warrant or guarantee that anything written here is 100% accurate, timely, or relevant to the website visitors.

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