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Amazon CloudFront vs. Rackspace CloudFiles CDN Performance


It’s not enough for us to tell you why you should use our services. We believe that it is more powerful when you hear real stories from customers on how they are utilizing our cloud computing platform. It’s even better when customers are not only using us but also trying out another provider so they can do a comparable analysis. This is the cool stuff.

Chris Meller, an Amazon S3 and Rackspace Cloud Servers customer, chose Amazon CloudFront as his first choice for offloading all his static files to a CDN. Being a fan of our Cloud Servers offering, he didn’t want to rule out Rackspace Cloud Files. So he tried both CloudFront and Cloud Files and compared his results.

He did find annoyances on both ends as he quotes:

“So with one minor annoyance on each side of the aisle I turned to hard quantifiable data, something every programmer loves. I loaded up my stylesheet on both CDNs and pointed a Pingdom check at each. The results were surprising.”

Click here to see his results.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Angela Bartels.

Angela runs integrated marketing campaigns for Rackspace. She started at Rackspace in 2003 and has done everything from Linux support, account management, sales, product marketing and now lives in marketing. She left Rackspace in 2005 to work for PEER 1 Hosting but returned in 2009 because she was interested in the cloud computing movement (and has always been a Racker at heart). Angela is a strong believer in the power of storytelling.


Yikes…given that data I’m not sure Amazon should be allowed to even call CloudFront a CDN. I can get similar Pingdom performance off my lousy 10/1Mbps cable connection!

avatar John Clayton on October 23, 2009 | Reply

Wow, that’s pretty drastic. I’m not a network or server expert so I wonder if there are flaws to this way of testing. In any case, glad I’m with Rackspace Cloud.

~ Rackspace Cloud Sites & Servers user. Might use Files as well.

avatar Melvin Ram on October 23, 2009 | Reply

I’ve used several cloud storage systems with “CDN” integration built in, and I will say that Cloud Files is certainly the best (fewest dropped packets and fastest ping times) in the group. However the lack of CNAMEs is requiring me to still use other services (CDN Mirrors) for larger clients. I really hope we get CNAME support soon.

avatar David Folger on October 23, 2009 | Reply

Dear David:

Thank you for your input and its duly noted. We are working on it and should be available soon.

Yours truly,

George Israel
Product Manger, Cloud Files

avatar George Israel on October 29, 2009

I recently evaluated Cloud Files and immediately found out that the system is still lacking proper CDN functionalities. It doesn’t support CNAME, it doesn’t support SSL and it has few bugs, which for example prevented me to distribute some files.

The Control Panel is awfully slow (I guess they do not use their own CDN) and buggy – sometimes it is almost impossible to make changes as Control Panel just doesn’t do any actions you would like to do (distribute a container etc.).

The fanatical support wasn’t that fanatical, you needed to wait a long time before the support was answering in the chat and it took a long time before they were figuring out the problem.

Let’s see if I will come back another time to do the another test. But only after the CNAME – I cannot believe that someone is promoting CDN when they do not have the basic features in place.

avatar Miikka on October 23, 2009 | Reply

[…] Comparativa Cloud Front y Cloud Files.  Pertenecientes a Amazon y Rackspace respectivamente, estos servicios permiten entregar contenido  (CDN) a tus usuarios de una forma rápidal. Esta comparativa publicada por Rackspace demuestra el mejor rendimiento de Cloud Files frente Cloud Front. […]

avatar Saasmanario – Semana 43/2009 | Saasmania on October 25, 2009 | Reply

With a CDN, everything depends on where you are and where is the nearest CDN front end.
So your mileage quite obviously varies with location.
To compare 2 CDNS, you need to check them from many places, or your result is valid only for you and your neighbors, at the time of the test.

avatar kawaijen on October 26, 2009 | Reply


While that is true, Cloudfiles is reselling Limelight Networks which has 4 times the POP’s of Amazon and it connected VIA peering significantly better than Amazon.

So you counter-suggestions is rather meaningless since blows Amazon out of the water on the subjects you brought up.

avatar Mark on October 26, 2009 | Reply

Here is another article that looks at the issue using a little more systematically. It also takes into account average response times and the degree of variation.

Cloudfiles had a faster request time but more variation.

Average Request Times” vs. “95th Percentile

avatar Bryan on November 2, 2009 | Reply

My 2 cents, as for who has the most POPs I think that can not be the whole story. For example Cloudspace/Limelight performs very poorly in the Asia region in terms of performance and throughput even though they have POPs here. They is more at play in terms of how they setup those pops. I have found the a standard hosting account provides better results then the CDN offering from rackspace.

avatar SG on November 8, 2009 | Reply

SG, as a CloudServer user and potential CloudSite user, and serving mainly China, I’d be interested in your experience/results with Rackspace’s CDN. From China my CloudServer is quite fast, could you get into more details about the CDN? Thanks a lot

avatar Terenzio on November 18, 2009

email me when you have cname. otherwise I could not use it.

avatar springrider on March 8, 2011 | Reply

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