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40hzFlag for United States of America

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Online Software Distribution - Direct Site Download vs. CDN

Hello Experts,

I have a question about software distribution and best practices.  

Originally, our company distributed our application directly from our website which was hosted within our network.  This method worked well for us until the need of bandwidth increased.   The huge tax of resources being used made it next to impossible to continue using this method of distribution.  We have since then moved our site, including the downloads to another host that is offsite.  Unfortunately, customers are complaining that they are having issues with downloading software; intermittent drops in connectivity and sometimes clicking the link does nothing.  (I've contacted the site hosts and they are not able to find any issues.)

My question is: what is the best, secure, yet cost-effective way of distributing our software?  How are others doing it?  Should I find another web-host and hope that the issues are resolved? Should I stay with the current web-host and use a different protocol? Are Content Delivery Networks (CDN) the way to go?  If it is the way to go, there are many services available which I could pick one based on price and features.

Many thanks in advance.
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David Johnson, CD
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I have used and recommend amazon cloudfront. Netflix also uses Amazon S3
CloudFront is a viable option, but depending on the case it may be an overkill.
Amazon S3 on the other hand is perfect for this scenario.

A CDN can really help if your customers are from a widely dispersed geographical sources, because it supposedly serves the content from multiple locations, distributing the load and minimizing latency.

However, a CDN adds additional complexity and management overhead. S3 is much easier to set up and manage.
Cloudfront uses S3.. and for me it is as simple as enabling a URL for the file in S3, and I have the options of expiring the link
One thing for CDN like CloudFront is that they can lift the content off its current location, so you don't need to upload it to S3 or anywhere else.
@shalomc: were you thinking about CloudFlare?
https://www.cloudflare.com/features-cdn  Another pretty good CDN.. and the only changes are the dns settings.
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ASKER

Thank you both for your replies.  I believe that CDN is the best solution and prior to posting, I was seriously considering Amazon Web Services.  I agree with shalomc that it might be overkill for us especially on a trial basis.  Our actual website is not very big but it's the download files that I'm more concerned with.  These files will take the bulk of the storage and bandwidth fees.  

@ve3ofa: I read somewhere that the there is a lack of a management console for S3/CloudFront and that in order to upload content you either have to implement the AWS API or use third party software to upload.  Is that true?  Have you run into any issues with this?

I've been leaning towards MaxCDN since it's a pretty basic, cut and dry service. Do you guys have any experience with them?

Many thanks for the help and suggestions so far!
I use Cloudberry S3 Explorer Pro as I didn't like the Web Interface.
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Shalom Carmel
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@Shalomc:  Thank you for the consistently thorough replies on this.  I know that I'll be using a CDN and will shop around for the best solution.  I'll start out with Amazon since there is not a setup cost and I could check it out without a contract.