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Windows

Windows Azure : Content Delivery Network

10/29/2010 7:44:09 PM
Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a Windows Azure blob replication and caching service that makes your blobs available globally at strategic locations closer to the blob consumers. For example, if your media-heavy web site has media files centrally located in the United States, whereas your users are from all the continents, then there will be performance degradation for the users in distant locations. Windows Azure CDN pushes content closer to the users at several data center locations in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, and the United States. At the time of this writing, there were 18 locations (or edges) across these continents that provided caching service to the Windows Azure blob storage via CDN. So, if you enable your media files on the Windows blob storage with CDN, they will be automatically available across these locations locally thus improving the performance for the users. Currently, the only restriction on enabling CDN is the blob containers must be public. This makes CDN extremely useful for e-commerce, news media, social networking, and interactive media web sites.

When you enable a storage account with CDN, the portal creates a unique URL with the following format for CDN access to the blobs in that storage account: http://<guid>.vo.msecnd.net/.

This URL is different from the blob storage URL format, http://<storageaccountname>.blob.core.windows.net/, because, the blob storage URL is not designed to resolve to CDN locations. Therefore, to get the benefit of CDN, you must use the URL generated by CDN for the blob storage. You can also register a custom domain name for the CDN URL from Windows Azure Developer Portal.

To enable CDN on a storage account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Windows Azure Developer Portal storage account.

  2. Click Enable CDN on the storage account page, as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1. Enabling CDN
  3. The portal provides a CDN endpoint to the storage by creating a CDN URL of the format http://<guid>.vo.msecnd.net/.

You can use the CDN endpoint URL for accessing your public containers. The portal also creates a record for the CDN endpoint in the Custom Domains list. To create a custom domain name, you can click on the Manage link for the CDN endpoint in the Custom Domain list and follow the instructions. I will cover Windows Azure storage in the next chapter, but I have covered CDN in this section, because it aligns very well with geographic affinity capabilities of Windows Azure.
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