Akamai vs. CloudFront: Which One is Best for Video Streaming?

9 min read
Akamai vs AWS Cloudfront

In the era of high-speed internet and on-demand video (VOD) content, users expect smooth and uninterrupted streaming experiences. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) play a pivotal role in making this possible by ensuring that video content is delivered quickly and efficiently, even during peak viewing times. Using a CDN, video streaming platforms can provide their viewers with high-quality content and minimal buffering, essential for a satisfying viewing experience. With the growing demand for seamless video streaming, content providers must choose the right CDN service to meet their needs. Two of the most renowned and widely-used CDNs for video streaming are Akamai CDN and AWS CloudFront.

This blog post will explore the world of content delivery networks, specifically focusing on video streaming. We will compare the features, performance, and benefits of Akamai and Amazon CloudFront. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the fascinating world of Akamai CDN and CloudFront CDN!

Akamai vs. AWS CloudFront: A Comparison Table

Feature Akamai AWS CloudFront
Network Size Extensive network of servers distributed worldwide Limited server network compared to Akamai
Advanced Video Streaming Features Real-time video analytics, adaptive bitrate streaming, content protection May not offer the same level of customization and advanced features for video streaming
Market Share (based on annual revenue) 35% 5.8%
Clientele Serves most Fortune 500 companies Less extensive clientele compared to Akamai
Cost-effectiveness Pricing depends on the features and services chosen Pay-as-you-go pricing model, cost-effective for businesses of all sizes

What is CDN?

A CDN is a group of servers spread across the globe that work together to deliver internet content quickly and efficiently to users. The CDN market is growing rapidly as more people use the internet. One of the key reasons why CDN providers are so important is that they help ensure that videos, images, and another content load quickly, no matter where in the world you are.
What is CDN

In today’s digital world, we love watching videos, playing games, or browsing websites online. But have you ever wondered how this content reaches us so quickly and smoothly? The answer lies in a Content Delivery Network, or CDN for short.

How does a CDN work?

Understanding how a CDN works in video streaming is quite fascinating. When you’re watching a video online, it’s important that the content loads quickly and without any interruptions. This is where a CDN comes into play.

Here’s a simple workflow of how a CDN works in video streaming:

  1. Content Preparation: First, the video you want to watch is prepared by the content provider. They break the video into smaller chunks and may create different versions with varying quality levels to accommodate users with different internet speeds.
  2. Uploading to the CDN: The content provider then uploads the video to the CDN, which stores it on multiple servers worldwide. This process helps ensure that the video is always close to the viewer, reducing the time it takes for the content to load.
  3. User Request: When you click on a video, your device requests the CDN for the content. The CDN determines the closest server to your location and the most suitable quality level for your internet connection.
  4. Content Delivery: The CDN server sends the video chunks to your device, assembling and playing the video. The process happens so quickly that you usually don’t even notice it. The CDN also ensures that the video continues to play smoothly, even if there’s a sudden surge in viewership.
  5. Adaptive Streaming: The CDN monitors your internet connection speed as you watch the video. If it changes, the CDN can adjust the video quality accordingly to provide a seamless viewing experience without buffering.>

What is Akamai?

Akamai is a CDN provider that provides a service called Content Delivery Network (CDN). Their main goal is to make the internet faster and more efficient worldwide. Imagine you’re trying to watch a video or visit a website that takes forever to load. That’s where Akamai comes in. They have a network of servers spread across the globe, which work together to deliver internet content quickly and smoothly to users.
What is Akamai

Using advanced mathematical algorithms, the Akamai network intelligently routes and replicates content. They ensure to reach users from the closest server possible. As a result, we can enjoy a better online experience with faster load times and less buffering.

History of Akamai CDN

The history of Akamai CDN is a fascinating story that began with a challenge and evolved into a revolutionary solution to improve how we use the internet today. Let’s dive into the exciting journey of Akamai CDN.

Firstly, it all started with Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. In 1995, he saw the future problem of internet congestion and posed a challenge at MIT to find a new and better way to deliver internet content. Little did he know that this challenge would lead to a groundbreaking service that would change the internet forever.

Next, an MIT professor named Tom Leighton decided to take up the challenge. As an expert in parallel algorithms and architecture, he believed the answer to the internet congestion problem could be found in applied mathematics and algorithms. To tackle this issue, he brought together a team of talented researchers.

Soon after, a bright student named Danny Lewin joined MIT in 1996 and started working with Dr. Leighton. With his strong computer science and mathematics background, Lewin made rapid progress in developing techniques to improve internet performance.

Dr. Leighton, Mr. Lewin, and their team created mathematical algorithms that allowed for intelligent routing and replication of content across a vast network of distributed servers. This innovative technology was the key to solving the frustrating problem of internet congestion that users were facing.

Ultimately, this academic challenge resulted in the birth of Akamai, a commercial service that has revolutionized how internet content is delivered. Today, Akamai CDN plays a significant role in ensuring that the internet remains fast and efficient for users worldwide.

Features of Akamai

Akamai CDN is considered one of the best options for media delivery and video streaming, and there are several reasons why. Let’s explore some features that make Akamai CDN stand out.

Adaptive Media Delivery

Adaptive Media Delivery ensures high-quality and consistent online video streaming, providing users with a smooth and enjoyable viewing experience, even during high-traffic times.

Cloud Wrapper

The Cloud Wrapper feature helps content providers save on costs and improve their origin offload with a private cache footprint. This results in more efficient media delivery without overburdening resources.


CloudTest allows websites and apps to be stress-tested using robust, real-time load testing. This ensures your platform can handle traffic surges without issues, maintaining a smooth user experience.


DataStream provides an inside look at CDN performance through log data at scale. This helps content providers make data-driven decisions to improve their services and better cater to their audience.

Dedicated Delivery

Dedicated Delivery offers superior live experiences with high-performance on-net edge delivery, making it particularly useful for delivering live-streaming events with minimal delays and buffering.

Download Delivery

Download Delivery ensures that large file downloads are delivered flawlessly and globally. This is essential for a smooth user experience, especially when downloading software or large media files.

Media Analytics

Media Analytics allows content providers to analyze video delivery performance, viewer engagement, and audience behavior. This helps them optimize their content and provide a better user experience.

Media Services Live

Media Services Live delivers a broadcast-quality experience to live-streaming viewers, ensuring an enjoyable and immersive experience during live events.


NetStorage is a globally distributed cloud storage solution that allows content providers to store and protect their content securely and efficiently. This feature ensures that your media files are always safe and easily accessible.

What is AWS CloudFront?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CloudFront CDN is a global content delivery network service designed to accelerate the delivery of websites, APIs, videos, and other content to users. By distributing content through a worldwide network of data centers, CloudFront CDN ensures that users receive the content they request with low latency and high transfer speeds

AWS CloudFront CDN works by caching content at edge locations closer to users, making it faster for them to access the content. When a user requests content, CloudFront delivers it from the nearest edge location, reducing the time it takes for the data to travel and improving the user experience.

Features of AWS CloudFront

Some of the key features and benefits of AWS CloudFront CDN include the following:

  • Fast and Global Content Delivery: With edge locations distributed across the globe, AWS CloudFront ensures that content is delivered quickly and efficiently to users, regardless of their geographical location.
  • Secure Content Delivery: AWS CloudFront CDN integrates with AWS Shield, AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), and Route 53 to provide robust security features, including protection against DDoS attacks, application-level security, and secure content delivery via HTTPS.
  • Customizable and Flexible: CloudFront CDN offers a range of customization options, such as cache behaviors, origin settings, and content compressions, allowing content providers to tailor the service to meet their specific needs.
  • Cost-effective: CloudFront CDN has a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means you only pay for the data you transfer and the number of requests you make. This makes it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.
  • Integration with AWS Services: CloudFront CDN seamlessly integrates with other AWS services like Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, and AWS Elemental MediaPackage, making it easy for content providers to build and manage their infrastructure.

Akamai vs. AWS CloudFront: Which one is best for video streaming

Regarding video streaming, Akamai is a better option than AWS CloudFront. There are several reasons why Akamai outperforms CloudFront in this area.

Akamai vs Cloudfront

Firstly, Akamai has an extensive network of servers distributed worldwide, providing low latency and high throughput. This means that viewers can access video content quickly and without buffering. In contrast, AWS CloudFront may not provide the same reliability and quality as Akamai due to its limited server network.

Secondly, Akamai offers advanced features like real-time video analytics, adaptive bitrate streaming, and content protection. These features allow content owners to deliver high-quality video content while maintaining the security and integrity of their content. In comparison, AWS CloudFront may not offer the same level of customization and advanced features for video streaming.

Thirdly, Akamai is considered the market leader in the CDN market, with a 35% marketshare based on annual revenue globally. It serves most Fortune 500 companies, a testament to its reliability and quality. AWS CloudFront, on the other hand, has a 5.8% market shareonly

It is important to note that AWS CloudFront has powerful offers suitable for professional website hosting and content delivery. However, if you are specifically looking for a CDN to deliver high-quality video content, Akamai is the better choice.

In conclusion, Akamai’s extensive network, advanced video streaming features, and market leadership make it the preferred choice for video streaming content delivery.

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