Panther Express and S3

One thing I’ve been working on in the last month is accelerating the serving of SlideShare content using a “content delivery network” (or CDN). You use a CDN so your content can be cached in RAM, in a place that is geographically near your customers, instead of on disk, in a place that is far away from your customer. This makes a BIG difference in terms of page load time. There isn’t much on the net about hooking a CDN up to Amazon S3, so here’s what I learned:
Frankly, the process of shopping for a CDN vendor is *really* annoying, especially for someone who has become used to buying these cloud-based services like S3 that are priced openly and on the basis of usage. The process is very “enterprise procurement”: lots of high-pressure salesmen trying to get you to sign two-year contracts, and with no price transparency. One way to win is to get them to bid against each other. But the whole thing feels like an unnecessary amount of work.
Fortunately, we found a company that had transparent pricing that seemed fair to us, and that wasn’t about locking us into a long-term contract: PantherExpress! Their pricing is standardized, is per-gigabyte, and gets cheaper the more you use it. Given that Amazon doesn’t provide a CDN, this is the next best thing for serving up content fast. It costs $.28/GB for the first 8 TB/month, $.24/GB for the next 8 TB, and so on. More expensive by Amazon, but a decent price for global content delivery.
Hooking PantherExpress up to S3 was pretty easy, and I imagine the same procedure would work with other CDNs. I’ll cover that in my next post.

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