Microsoft Launches Its Own Content Delivery Network ‘Azure CDN’

Microsoft just launched the public preview of its own global CDN network, which is now available through ‘Azure CDN’. Azure customers will be able to use and deliver content from Microsoft’s own global CDN network. The Microsoft CDN will be added as an option in Azure CDN next to existing provider options from Akamai and Verizon.

Microsoft has been going through a cloud transformation over the last five years with many of its products, including Skype, the recently acquired LinkedIn, Dynamics, OneDrive, Bing, Office 365 and Windows, having “a distinctively hybrid consumer and enterprise focus” that Microsoft says has “developed and shaped our unique perspective on networking and CDN”.

Supporting the workloads of its many global products has given Microsoft invaluable experience for the CDN space as a result of managing its Global Network. Microsoft’s consumers demand reliability, security and high availability from its various products worldwide. Its large Global Network that connects 38 different regions (as of April 2017) is continually monitored “to detect anomalies, faults, and drive recovery at the millisecond level, much akin to monitoring a living organism”. The network contains hundreds of data centers and thousands of servers, each housing several thousand devices; which altogether consist of millions of components that require continuous supervision and innovation.

Microsoft operates its monitoring services according to four key principles:

  • Speed and accuracy
  • Coverage
  • Scale
  • Optimization based on real user metrics (RUM)

The company has custom built several key innovative technologies to allow it to detect and localize network issues that may arise, including PingMesh and NetBouncer. PingMesh deploys lightweight TCP probes for probing thousands of peers for latency measurement (RTT – round trip time) in order to identify whether the issue is linked to the physical network, and then determine if it is a network reachability or packet-level latency issue. NetBouncer’s machine learning algorithms come into play if a latency deviation or packet drop is detected in order to filter out transient issues, for example, the need for a top-of-rack reboot for an upgrade.

source: Microsoft global network

The new native addition of Azure CDN will provide Azure customers with access to this highly experienced CDN platform. New Regional Caching capabilities have been added to the Microsoft Global Network in order to enable more reliable and predictable cache fill performance as a result of offering multi-tier caching alongside direct, private access to content held in Azure from each CDN edge point of presence (PoP).

Microsoft says of its new offering, “Azure CDN from Microsoft provides access to 54 global Edge POPs in 33 countries and 16 Regional Cache POPs at strategic network hubs across our fast and reliable anycast network. This puts your content 50ms on average from users in more than 60 countries worldwide.”

As well as the launch of its native global network, Microsoft is also launching a public preview of its use-your-own SSL certificate, which allows customers to customize and self-maintain their own SSL certificates, thereby creating a bespoke CDN solution.

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