Amazon Offers Glimpse Into CloudFront Customer Numbers


Amazon Web Services gave a rare glimpse into its cloud growth Tuesday, revealing the number of customers using its CloudFront content delivery network (CDN).

According to Amazon, the cloud giant now has more than 20,000 active CloudFront customers, which is double the number of CloudFront customers in October of last year and well over four times the number of customers in 2009. That growth, Amazon said, makes it the largest global CDN, a conclusion Amazon reached after reviewing published customer counts by competing CDN vendors.

"We are seeing strong usage from the enterprise and from startups," Amazon AWS evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a CloudFront blog post, adding that because CloudFront is under the AWS umbrella it integrates with other Amazon cloud services like Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

CloudFront has drawn in customers with the addition of a host of new features, including AWS Identity and Access Management Support and Live Streaming; and the previous additions of enhanced Management Console support, private content, live streaming with Adobe Flash Media Server, HTTPS support, request logging and customer origins.

Barr said that AWS also now has 21 edge locations for CloudFront, including international locations in Brazil, Paris and Stockholm, which launched this year. Amazon also added a second location on Los Angeles, and more locations are coming.

"We will continue to be smart about where we add new locations and only add them where we can drive measurable improvements in performance and lower latency," Barr wrote. "This ensures that our customers continue to benefit from even lower prices as we scale."

Along with highlighting the growth of CloudFront, Amazon also showcased a CloudFront price drop, which actually occurred in July, but was not widely publicized. According to Barr, Amazon reduced data transfer prices in the U.S. and Europe and added a 5 PB usage tier for a lower cost. Amazon also dropped the cost of transferring data out of Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3. And while CloudFront is based on a pay-as-you-go pricing model, Barr said AWS offers lower prices to customers that commit to certain usage levels.

For the typically secretive Amazon Web Services, publicly announcing customer numbers is rare. Earlier this year, AWS highlighted the amount of objects stored in Amazon S3. According to AWS, the number of stored objects in Amazon S3 reached 566 billion by the close of 2011's third quarter, a massive increase on the 449 billion objects stored on S3 at the end of 2011's second quarter.

Amazon's data sharing comes as analysts estimate that Amazon Web Services could be a $1 billion business for the online retailer by 2012. Meanwhile, a JPMorgan Chase analyst projected AWS revenue would hit a whopping $2.6 billion by 2015, and UBS estimated that Amazon's cloud revenue would hit $750 million this year and top $2.5 billion in 2014.

Amazon, however, keeps its cloud revenue under wraps. In its quarterly earnings reports, AWS falls into the "other" category, which includes revenue not generated by media, electronics or other general merchandise. In the third quarter of 2011, Amazon's other category generated $407 million, a massive jump from the $240 million represented by the other category in the third quarter of 2010. That annual increase represents 70 percent growth. And for the nine months that ended September 30, Amazon's other category raked in $1.077 billion, a jump from the $632 million in that same timeframe last year, also more than 70 percent rise.

While Amazon doesn't detail how much of its other category is made up of cloud, industry watchers and cloud analysts estimate that AWS and Amazon's cloud offerings are making up the bulk of Amazon's other category. According to a UBS analyst report from earlier this year, AWS represents more than 60 percent of Amazon's other category. If UBS's math is correct, AWS has generated roughly $678 million in revenue for Amazon so far this year.