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Solutions in Azure : Azure CDN for Maximum Bandwidth & Reduced Latency – Part II

From the First Part of this Article we can derive a conclusion that the CDN’s job is to enhance the regular hosting by reducing bandwidth consumption, minimizing latency and providing the scalability needed to handle abnormal traffic loads. It cuts down on round-trip time (RTT), effectively giving similar response to end user irrespective of their geographical presence.

In MicroMarketMonitor’s recent report, it has clearly mentioned that only the North American content delivery network market is expected to grow from $1.95 billion in 2013 to $7.83 billion in 2019. One significant factor driving this growth is end user interaction with online content. So moving forward it is going to be a major factor while architecting any application.-

Azure CDN Highlights

  1. Improve rendering speed & Handle high traffic loads: Azure CDN servers manage the content by making use of its large network of POPs. This dramatically increases the speed and availability, resulting in significant user experience improvements.
  2. Designed for today’s web: Azure CDN is specifically designed for the dynamic, media-centric web of today and cater to the requirement of its users who expect everything to be fast, high quality, and always-on.
  3. Streaming Aware Era: Azure CDN can be helpful under all possible three ways while serving videos over HTTP- Progressive Download and Play, HTTP Pseudo-streaming & Live Streaming.
  4. Dynamic Content Acceleration: If you understand the nitty-gritties of Azure CDN it also uses series of techniques to serve uncatchable content faster. For example, it can route all communication from a client in India to a server in the US through an edge in India and an edge in the US. They then maintain a constant connection between those two edges and apply WAN optimization techniques to accelerate it.
  5. Block spammers, scrapers and other bad bots: Azure Content Delivery Network is built on a highly scalable, reverse-proxy architecture with sophisticated DDoS identification and mitigation technologies to protect your website from DDoS attacks.
  6. When the expectations are at peak, Azure CDN delivers: Thanks to its distributed global scale, Azure Content Delivery Network handles sudden traffic spikes and heavy loads, like the start of a major product launch or global sporting event.

Working With Azure Storage

Once the CDN is enabled on an Azure storage account, any blobs that are in public containers and are available for anonymous access will be cached via the CDN. Only blobs that are publicly available can be cached with the Azure CDN. To make a blob publicly available for anonymous access, you must denote its container as public. Once you do so, all blobs within that container will be available for anonymous read access and you have the option of making container data public as well, or restricting access only to the blobs within it.

For best performance, use CDN edge caching for delivering blobs less than 10 GB in size. When you enable CDN access for a storage account, the Management Portal provides you with a CDN domain name in the following format: http://.vo.msecnd.net/. This domain name can be used to access blobs in a public container. For example, given a public container named music in a storage account named myaccount, users can access the blobs in that container using either of the following two URLs:

Working With Azure Websites

You can enable CDN from your websites to cache your web contents, such as images, scripts, and stylesheets. See Integrate an Azure Website with Azure CDN. When you enable CDN access for a website, the Management Portal provides you with a CDN domain name in the following format: http://.vo.msecnd.net/. This domain name can be used to retrieve objects from a website. For example, given a public container named cdn and an image file called music.png, users can access the object using either of the following two URLs:

  • Azure Website URL: http://mySiteName.azurewebsites.net/cdn/music.png
  • Azure CDN URL: http://.vo.msecnd.net/cdn/music.png

Working With Azure Cloud Services

You can cache objects to the CDN that are provided by an Azure cloud service. Caching for cloud services has the following constraints:

  • The CDN should be used to cache static content only.
  • Your cloud service must be deployed to in a production deployment.
  • Your cloud service must provide the object on port 80 using HTTP.
  • The cloud service must place the content to be cached in, or delivered from, the /cdn folder on the cloud service

When you enable CDN access for a cloud service, the Management Portal provides you with a CDN domain name in the following format: http://.vo.msecnd.net/. This domain name can be used to retrieve objects from a cloud service. For example, given a cloud service named myHostedService and an ASP.NET web page called music.aspx that delivers content, users can access the object using either of the following two URLs:

  • Azure cloud service URL: http://myHostedService.cloudapp.net/cdn/music.aspx
  • Azure CDN URL: http://.vo.msecnd.net/music.aspx

Accessing Cached Content over HTTPS

Azure allows you to retrieve content from the CDN using HTTPS calls. This allows you to incorporate content cached in the CDN into secure web pages without receiving warnings about mixed security content types.

To serve your CDN assets over HTTPS there are couple of constraints worth mentioning:

  • You must use the certificate provided by the CDN. Third party certificates are not supported.
  • You must use the CDN domain to access content. HTTPS support is not available for custom domain names (CNAMEs) since the CDN does not support custom certificates at this time.

Even when HTTPS is enabled, content from the CDN can be retrieved using both HTTP and HTTPS.

Note: If you’ve created a CDN for an Azure Cloud Service (e.g. http://[XYZ].cloudapp.net/cdn/) it’s important that you create a self-signed certificate for your Azure domain ([XYZ].cloudapp.net). If you’re using Azure Virtual Machines can be done through IIS.

Custom Domain to Content Delivery Network (CDN) endpoint

In case you want to access the cached content with custom domain, azure lets you map your domain to particular CDN End point. With that in place you can use your own domain name in URLs to retrieve the cached content.

For detailed information on implementation please check- Map CDN to Custom Domain

CDNs are an essential part of current generation’s Internet, and their importance will increase eventually. Even now, companies are trying hard trying to figure out ways to move more functionality to edge servers (POP Locations) in order to provide users with the fastest possible experience. Azure CDN plays a vital role as it suffice current generation CDN requirement. While implementing Azure CDN (Or any CDN for that matter) the important thing is to formulate a strategy regarding the maximum lifespan of an object beforehand.

Author Credits: This article was written by Utkarsh Pandey, Azure Solution Architect at 8K Miles Software Services and originally published here .

There is a Microsoft Azure event happening on 16th September 2017 and it is great opportunity for all Azure enthusiasts to meet, greet and share ideas on latest innovation in this field. Click here for more details.