Why we switched from Rackspace Cloud Files to Amazon Cloudfront

At RecordSetter.com we’ve been with Rackspace from day one and naturally we’ve been using Cloud Files for our static files CDN. But the camel’s back was broken and we’ve moved that portion of our solution to Amazon CloudFront.

Some background: Cloud Files is analogous to S3. It is a file store that is optimized for the cloud. Cloud Files uses Akamai’s CDN network as a layer on top of Cloud Files whereas Amazon’s cloudfront can be used to front an S3 container or act more like a traditional CDN.

The problem with Rackspace’s solution is that in order for your images, CSS files, etc to get loaded by the CDN you must put them onto Cloud Files first. What makes this difficult is that the only official interface is via an API. There are a number of third party solutions that attempt to provide easier access, but none of them are quite _there_ yet. So even if you figure out how to get files up there as part of your deploy process (I used a custom MS Build task and batch files) you’ll have versioning issues as the function to do a “cache invalidate” has been broken for months.

With this change we also started using Cassette for our versioning, bundling and minification needs instead of a custom solution based on YUI’s compressor.

We still use Rackspace and Akamai for our video streaming and there’s room for improvement there too, but that’s a story for another post.

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