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AWS opens Route 53 in SA

Amazon has recently launched its Route 53 in South Africa, offering a DNS web service to developers and businesses needing a reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications, writes MICHAEL NEEDHAM, Senior Manager, Solutions Architecture, AWS.

Following the recent launch of CloudFront, our global content delivery network (CDN) service, in South Africa, is the launch of Amazon Route 53 in both edge locations, further improving availability and performance for customers and end users in the region. Route 53 is a highly available and scalable cloud Domain Name System (DNS) web service, designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications. The two new edge locations will help customers see improvements of as much as 75% in DNS query latency.

For over nine years global companies of all sizes, from Hulu, Intuit, Allergan, Slack and Spotify, to small businesses running WordPress, have benefitted from an easy, secure, and cost effective way to distribute content, and accelerate applications, websites, and APIs, using Amazon CloudFront. Now, our customers in South Africa can leverage Amazon CloudFront to securely deliver data, videos, and applications to users, enjoying performance improvements of as much as 75% from reductions in latency. The two new edge locations, which now include Amazon Route 53, are located in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Combined with the launch of Direct Connect in Dec 2017, AWS is now offering a full range of networking and caching solutions to businesses in South Africa.

Better together: using Amazon Route 53 with Amazon CloudFront

Amazon Route 53 is designed to give developers and businesses an extremely reliable and cost effective way to route end users to Internet applications by translating names like into the numeric IP addresses like that computers use to connect to each other. Our customers’ websites, content, and applications delivered via Amazon CloudFront can use, in addition, the Amazon Route 53 service to create an Alias record for their domain, which points to the CloudFront distribution. Route 53 is designed to automatically answer queries from the optimal location depending on network conditions. As a result, the service offers low query latency for end users.

Let’s look at what this means for some CloudFront use cases:

‘As seen on TV!’ – CloudFront for Media Applications

For leading African story teller M-Net, the launch of AWS CloudFront services in South Africa presents significant cost savings and high availability of systems during peak demand for live shows while attracting significant interactive engagement for dozens of M-Net produced DStv channels across the continent.  Audiences are managed via a customised platform, architected, developed and supported by digital solutions agency SwipeiX, strategically directed and managed by M-Net’s interactive content producer, Don’t Look Down.

SwipeiX Founder, Leo Redelinghuys, commented “We are ecstatic to hear of this service launch in South Africa. SwipeiX has already seen huge cost benefit from building local high scale media applications for companies like WeChat, DSTV, EWN, Soccer Laduma and Discovery Networks on AWS.

Supporting high profile TV formats, the platform developed for M-Net scales to support millions of impressions. There can be very few work experiences more demanding than achieving M-Net’s live voting compliance requirements for global hit formats like as ‘Idols’, ‘The Voice’ or ‘Big Brother’. Your systems (and your nerves) are tested under the bright glare of millions of passionate fans who are each deeply invested in the results. Fans need to trust that their vote has been counted and that the process was free and fair. With AWS as a foundation, we have built that trust through 100% uptime, processing more than hundreds of millions of votes through these shows. Now, we will benefit from even better economics and performance with a local CloudFront, along with new architectural possibilities of compute at the edge with Lambda@Edge”, Redelinghuys concluded.

For a variety of media applications, Amazon CloudFront allows customers to stream audio and video to viewers across the globe using multiple protocols. The Route 53 addition makes it even easier for our customers to manage traffic globally through a variety of routing types, including Latency Based Routing, Geo DNS, Geoproximity, and Weighted Round Robin. All of these routing types can be combined with DNS Failover in order to enable a variety of low-latency, fault-tolerant architectures, which are important benefits for broadcasters and media organisations. Augment that with AWS Elemental, a family of fully managed media services, and you build out reliable, broadcast-quality video workflows in the Cloud. The latter solution is behind Seven Network’s streaming of the Australian Tennis Open to millions of viewers globally.

Playing. Shopping. Watching – faster and personalized user experience 

The new CloudFront Edge locations will enable South Africans to enjoy a much faster experience of both local and international applications, reducing the need to fetch content at its origin in data centers outside of the African continent. South Africans will notice many common platforms and applications speeding up as they take advantage of the new African presence. Using Amazon Route 53 can improve the performance and availability of our customers’ applications for end users by running multiple endpoints around the world, using Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow to connect users to the best endpoint based on latency, geography, and endpoint health.

Mobile games developer SuperCell, the makers of Clash of Clans, serves 8.5 million daily players through CloudFront, which includes markets like South Africa. SuperCell can execute functionality closer to their users with Lambda@Edge without provisioning or managing servers.

Lambda@Edge functions offer a variety of possibilities, like functions for adjusting images by device type, personalizing content per country, A/B testing of websites, and much more. Consider the example of a personalized shopping experience powered by Lambda@Edge. A retail website that sells clothing, and uses cookies to indicate which color the shopper chose as a preferred match to their style. When the user considers buying a jacket on the website; using a Lambda function they can be presented with an image of the jacket in their personalised color of choice, using CloudFront.

Security and high performance 

With security at the heart of AWS services, CloudFront is no different. The integration between CloudFront and AWS Certificate Manager allows you to create free custom SSL certificates or bring your own and deploy them in minutes. With multiple online properties, SSL certificate costs add up for South African customers, making the free certificates from AWS’s certificate authority compelling. In addition, CloudFront is PCI compliant, and offers Web Application Firewall (WAF), and AWS Shield, a managed service that provides protection against DDoS attacks for web applications running on AWS.

Implementing security measures to applications is specifically relevant with the growing popularity of mobile banking, and cryptocurrency platforms in Africa, as well as the need to stay informed and have access to local news services ‘on the go’. Companies using CloudFront with AWS Shield and WAF can benefit from a mature portfolio of security features and benefits. AWS Shield is integrated into AWS, so once an attack occurs, it can be mitigated at the point of ingress into the AWS network. In addition, AWS Shield offers Always-On detection and mitigation, so that as soon as an attack is identified, it is mitigated. WAF allows customers to create own rules or use Managed rules created by security experts or AWS Marketplace Sellers, to filter inbound traffic to a web application. With WAF, customers can block traffic based on parameters such as IP addresses, or known attack patterns, as well as block malicious requests from accessing the application.

Developers also benefit from tight integration between CloudFront and other AWS services. The solution is simple to use with Amazon Route53, to help speed up DNS resolution of applications delivered by CloudFront, and with Amazon S3 for storage and retrieval of data for their applications. Amazon EC2 or even servers in on-premises data centers can be used as origin servers for content for CloudFront. This gives developers a powerful combination of durable storage and high performance delivery.

For users uploading content to the cloud via S3, which is common in archival and big data strategies of large Enterprises, can now benefit from Accelerated Upload via CloudFront. The content is uploaded locally at high speed and low cost at the edge within South Africa and then carried to S3 on the Amazon backbone network, at no further cost.

With CloudFront and Route 53 now available in South Africa, existing and new customers will be able to take advantage of the features and benefits of AWS infrastructure in South Africa.

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