Networking & Content Delivery

Bringing delivery closer to end users with Amazon CloudFront Embedded POPs

Fifteen years ago, Amazon CloudFront launched with 14 edge locations scattered around the world.  Since then, it’s been exciting to see how quickly we’ve grown to now having over 600 CloudFront Points of Presence (POPs) in more than 100 cities and 50 countries worldwide. We have continued to build and innovate, finding new ways to deliver better security, performance, and availability for our customers.

It has been a notable journey and evolution in both infrastructure and architecture. In addition to adding more Points of Presence (POPs), we’ve continued to expand the AWS Global Network, peering with internet service providers (ISPs) along the way to establish better connectivity to end-users around the world.

This year we are excited to announce yet another extension to our infrastructure, adding over 600 Embedded POPs.  Embedded POPs are a new type of CloudFront infrastructure deployed directly in the last mile of ISP networks, designed to give you highly scaled capacity for peak traffic events. These POPs are built specifically for delivering large-scale cacheable traffic such as live streaming, game downloads, or high popularity video on demand (VOD) content. This can improve the experience for all viewers, especially those further away from metro areas.

Figure 1. High-level diagram of Amazon CloudFront embedded POP architecture

CloudFront has been the primary internal user of the AWS Global Network Infrastructure that has expanded over the last decade.  We deploy POPs at locations where peering connections to ISPs are established.  We connect with ISPs that operate infrastructure connecting end-users globally in order to reduce latency and increase capacity for the end-users. Managing our own network has enabled us to monitor and proactively plan capacity based on the needs of our customers. This in turn allows us to avoid much of the unpredictability of routing web traffic through the public internet, reducing network jitter and improving network latency over long distances.

However, as content providers are increasingly delivering large scale traffic events such as live video and popular software downloads like game patches through the web, we have seen capacity requirements spike to as much as 12 times higher than average traffic volumes.   Events such as the Super Bowl, English Premier League matches, and Cricket World Cup have millions of concurrent viewers which generates a significant increase in internet traffic over a short period of time. These traffic spikes strain the internet infrastructure, that is, the network links owned by ISPs that connect end viewers to the content source.

With embedded POPs, you can now access a highly scalable and performant CloudFront infrastructure deployed within ISP networks for delivering popular live-streaming events, VOD releases, and game downloads. Embedded POPs are turnkey appliances owned by AWS, fully managed and supported by CloudFront.

However, unlike traditional CloudFront POPs, embedded POPs are deployed closer to the last mile to avoid capacity bottlenecks and ensure a higher quality of experience for the viewers.  Once the appliance is powered up and connected to the internet, it will self- register, activate, and deploy itself to be remotely managed by AWS. AWS operations will monitor and share operational metrics with the ISP network operations center (NOC) for ease of maintenance.

Embedded POPs are deployed with redundancy (minimum deployment of 2 appliances) to ensure high availability. If the performance of a device degrades, the traffic is automatically routed to available capacity (that is, embedded POPs) within the ISP network, or to a traditional CloudFront Edge POP.  Embedded POPs connect to the nearest CloudFront Regional edge caches for cache fill. CloudFront manages the capacity provisioning in a seamless manner and uses a combination of its POPs, and embedded POPs to serve the high traffic events with optimal performance. ISPs can manage the entire lifecycle of embedded POPs in their network using the new CloudFront embedded POP portal, available globally at no additional cost.

CloudFront embedded POPs are modular (1 rack unit per POP), allowing CloudFront to deploy as much or as little capacity as needed depending on the size of the ISP network and demand from content providers. This gives you quick access to the infrastructure required to deliver their content.  Customers onboarded to CloudFront embedded POPs have observed improvement in quality of experience metrics with as up to a 46 percent improvement in time to first frame and a 49 percent improvement in rebuffering rates in distant locations.

When planning a high-traffic event, you can provide the per-Region capacity requirements to our CloudFront support teams. AWS will work with ISPs to deploy embedded POPs within their networks.  You can use embedded POPs without any additional cost. If you have video streaming workloads (live and on-demand) or popular software downloads with an average object size (AOS) of greater than 500KB in size, embedded POPs may be a good fit for your workload.  Work with your AWS sales representative to verify that your use case or workload is a good fit for embedded POPs and our CloudFront teams will enable them behind the scenes.

Customer’s using embedded POPs

“CloudFront Embedded POPs have enabled millions of Prime Video customers to receive a better video-on-demand and live streaming experience. This embedded platform is a critical piece that delivers content from locations closer to customers. We are delighted to be collaborators with CloudFront, as a launch partner, for this platform.” – Hector Cura, Head of WW Video Delivery, Prime Video

“At Peacock, we’re always looking for ways to deliver the best video experience to our viewers. This is why we’ve been partnering with Amazon CloudFront for high-performance, low latency content delivery,” said Patrick Miceli, EVP and Chief Technology Officer, Direct-to-Consumer and Global Streaming, NBCUniversal. “With Embedded POPs, CloudFront allows us to scale across the US, particularly to more remote locations, as we provide Peacock users nationwide with the most complete streaming service across both VOD and live.”


Embedded POPs are a new extension to the CloudFront network, adding over 600 POPs world-wide. They are deployed deep within ISP networks to give you highly scaled capacity for peak traffic events. You can use these POPs for workloads such as live video streams, game downloads, or other highly popular content to improve the overall experience for viewers, especially those further away from metro areas. To learn more about Embedded POPs, you can visit the Amazon CloudFront Embedded Points of Presence page or contact your AWS sales representative to evaluate your workloads to determine if they are a good fit for embedded POPs.

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Tino Tran

Tino is the World Wide Tech Leade for Edge Services at AWS. He leads with AWS technical field to build solutions and capabilities that help customers deliver and protect Web Applications and APIs served over the public internet. He is a experienced leader and technologist with a background in software engineering, content delivery networks, and security.

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Akash Srivastava

Akash Srivastava is a Sr. Product Manager on the Amazon CloudFront team based out of Seattle. He is passionate about building scalable products and seamless experiences to help AWS customers securely and reliably deliver content at scale.