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i wonder which CDNs popular websites are using?

is there a list giving some more information about this?

would be great to have some more insight.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can look into Akamai, Limelight or Edgecast, but unless you are looking into it as part of managing a very popular website, you might want to look into Amazon CloudFront or Rackspace Cloud Files as alternative pay-as-you-go CDN's.

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Edgecast allows pay-as-you-go, through resellers such as speedyrails. –  Cody Hatch Mar 6 '11 at 23:49

Akamai is HUGE, very good, quite expensive. You have to sign a contract and commit to terabytes of transfer every month. If you have to ask "would I be a good fit for talking to Akamai?" the answer is "no, you're too small". You can find places that resell a subset of Akamai's services on a cheap Pay As You Go (PAYG) model but you aren't getting the full package. Rackspace resells Akamai, but their version doesn't support origin pull, CNAMES, or streaming video, which makes it annoyingly limited.

Edgecast is also large and popular. Must like Akamai, if you have to ask, you probably don't want to deal with them directly, but you can find resellers that offer the "full" Edgecast service cheaply on a PAYG basis. I'm currently using Speedyrails, who have been good to deal with.

Limelight, BitGravity, are big, so is Softlayer (I think they're reselling Internap's service these days?) but I don't know much about them. All three are used by some big important companies, but are hard to deal with if your small fry.

Amazon CloudFront is probably a good choice IF you are already invested in Amazon's cloud solutions, and want to integrate with existing S3 storage or EC2 instances. Otherwise, there isn't a lot to recommend them. They're a pain to use and the web control panel is terrible. They support - at least nominally - all the important CDN features, but actually getting it working can suck up a lot of time as you tinker with their arcane API. Yes, they're cheap, but they're also slow, they have a small network, and it'll take you at least twice as long to integrate their CDN with your systems as you'd expect. Not a lot of big companies use them; there's a reason.

MaxCDN is probably the cheapest around. They are fast enough, and very easy to sign up with and use. About a week after I signed up, I was fiddling with the configuration, which caused it fall over and start spitting 502 errors to visitors instead of my images. After a couple of days arguing with their abysmal tech support, I gave up and moved to Edgecast. Three times the price, and still a better bargain. Again, not a lot of big companies use them, and again, there's a reason.

Rackspace Cloud Files was mentioned by Matt Beckman; although they used to resell Limelight, they now resell Akamai. As mentioned, they have a limited feature set. If they do what you need, they have a big network, a good rep, and excellent pricing. If they don't do what you need, then pass them by. (They employ some excellent salespeople, but don't listen to their sales hype; CNAME support has been coming "next quarter" for years now. :) )

Finally, it's not a real CDN, but a lot of very small companies or individuals are actually using Google App Engine. It's CHEAP, and 3rd party benchmarks say it's as fast as most other full on CDNs. Depending on your needs, it might work well.

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Great info, thanks. I see that MaxCDN list stackoverflow as a customer on their frontpage - wonder if that's still the case? –  UpTheCreek Mar 23 '13 at 10:40

I think the most popular are probably Akamai and Edgecast these days.

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