Cloudinary Customers See Additional Performance Boost of About 30% Using CloudFront Functions


Cloudinary, a media management company, helps its customers deliver content such as videos and images to users worldwide. The company has had success using solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the past and is an AWS Partner, which means it has the opportunity to gain access to new features and solutions from AWS. Cloudinary’s customers were already achieving media optimization performance gains with delivery tailored to their users’ devices through Amazon CloudFront, a fast content delivery network service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to users globally with low latency and high transfer speeds—all within a developer-friendly environment. So when Cloudinary was offered early access to CloudFront Functions, a new serverless edge scripting environment in which users can run lightweight JavaScript code—and which is now generally available—it accepted. Now Cloudinary estimates that its customers using Amazon CloudFront receive an additional performance improvement of 30 percent, as well as improved search engine optimization rankings, conversion rates, and customer experience.

Programmer working in a software developing company

Customers can set up everything within the Amazon CloudFront console and API, from staging to promoting to productions. That ability is great from a customer standpoint.” 

Amit Khanal 
Senior Solutions Architect, Cloudinary

Optimizing Content Delivery on the Cloud

An AWS user since its inception in 2012, Cloudinary provides a complete media management solution for developers and marketers to optimize delivery of media assets used on websites and apps. The company delivers content through a redundant multi–content delivery network architecture. Many of its customers who bring their own networks have opted to use Amazon CloudFront. Cloudinary had been supporting these customers’ integrations with Lambda@Edge, a feature of Amazon CloudFront with which organizations can run code closer to customers of the organization’s application to improve performance and reduce latency. Lambda@Edge is based on AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service that lets developers run code without provisioning or managing servers. Lambda@Edge provides tools and features that can be used for heavy compute operations such as performing media manipulation on the edge as opposed to selecting the right media to fetch from the origin servers. “We support dynamic search engine optimization through these configurations,” says Amit Khanal, senior solutions architect at Cloudinary. “It works well for our customers.”

Cloudinary is committed to offering the best possible solutions to its customers, so when AWS offered the company early access to its new edge computing feature, CloudFront Functions, Cloudinary decided to assess whether the solution might be a good fit for its lightweight compute operations. CloudFront Functions is an edge computing solution in which computing takes place at AWS edge locations where data is received rather than in an AWS Region where the application is hosted in the cloud. This means that CloudFront Functions is securely run in near real time using the Global Edge Network on AWS of 275+ points of presence. 

Improving Content Delivery with Edge Computing

Cloudinary ran several performance tests using a third-party tool to compare Lambda@Edge and CloudFront Functions. After 24 hours of testing using 64 different locations across the globe, the company extracted a report to compare metrics such as overall request time and failure rate. Cloudinary discovered that for lightweight applications, using CloudFront Functions would improve performance by an estimated 30 percent. “CloudFront Functions performs very well for lower-latency data transfers,” Khanal says. “That’s one of the main things we look for before recommending a new solution to customers.”

Lambda@Edge remains an excellent solution for applications that require heavy compute operations, but lightweight operations that require high scalability can now be run using CloudFront Functions. Using CloudFront Functions, Cloudinary and its customers are seeing significantly increased performance. For example, one of Cloudinary’s customers began using CloudFront Functions, and in about 2 weeks, it was seeing 20–30 percent better response times; the customer estimates that it will see 75 percent cost savings. CloudFront Functions scales to handle millions of requests per second. Because of the decreased browser rendering time provided by this edge-based compute feature, users can view images much faster. And because many search engines use image loading time to determine page rankings, using CloudFront Functions improves its customers’ search engine optimization rankings. “That’s a very big motivation for our customers to improve those numbers,” says Meir Lamed, product manager at Cloudinary. “Of course, that’s just a measure of what’s actually important—the performance of the webpages and, as a result, click rates and the overall experience.” Because media loads faster, it also has a direct, positive impact on conversion rates.

By using CloudFront Functions, Cloudinary customers have seen significant cost savings, often an estimated 30–40 percent. Another bonus for its customers is that the setup for CloudFront Functions is quick and simple. “Customers can set up everything within the Amazon CloudFront console and API, from staging to promoting to productions,” says Khanal. “That ability is great from a customer standpoint.”  

Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Optimization

Cloudinary looks forward to working alongside AWS in the future as the company builds on the progress it’s made with media optimization. “Every step of the way, AWS has truly helped us in terms of understanding our needs, from adopting the technology to creating innovation for our end needs,” says Sunny Ho, director of technology partnerships at Cloudinary.

As Cloudinary continues to improve media optimization using CloudFront Functions, it will continue to push the envelope of optimization and automation by promoting solutions based on technologies such as artificial intelligence and object detection, using data-driven decision-making and best compression technology to tailor and improve content that reaches its customers and their users. “We would like to build on this solution so that we can offer the full capacity of what Cloudinary can provide,” says Lamed. The company would like to provide web-based media manipulation, for example. “There are a lot of ways we could go further with CloudFront Functions,” Lamed says. “I think the options are vast.” 

Cloudinary Reference Architecture

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About Cloudinary

Founded in 2012, Cloudinary provides a complete media management solution for developers to manage and optimize delivery of their media assets. 

Benefits of AWS

  • Improves performance by an estimated 30%
  • Helps customers reduce costs significantly, often by an estimated 30–40%
  • Helps customers improve search engine optimization rankings and conversion rates
  • Helps customers experience simpler technical setup

AWS Services Used

Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment. 

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CloudFront Functions

CloudFront Functions is a serverless edge compute feature allowing you to run JavaScript code at the 225+ CloudFront edge locations for lightweight HTTP(s) transformations and manipulations. 

Learn more >>

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