Mobile CDN: What Is It and Why Is It Essential for Mobile Apps?

PacketZoomMobile apps are turning out to be more popular among users than websites. In 2016, usage of mobile apps exceeded the usage of desktop and mobile web combined. Technically speaking, mobile apps are completely different than websites, but unfortunately, many mobile apps are still using the same content delivery infrastructure that was designed for websites over 30 years ago, thereby diminishing the user experience.

Traditional Web CDNs mostly focus on the first mile (the distance between the origin server and closest CDN server) and the middle mile (the distance between the two CDN edge servers), but they ignore the last mobile mile (the distance between the user and the edge server).

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Back in the day, the “middle mile” was considered the slowest (with high latency between servers), but over the past decade and thanks to major infrastructure improvements, this is no longer the case. The major rise in mobile usage shifted latency to the last mobile mile, and in many geographies, we measure an average latency of over 100 milliseconds. The challenge of content acceleration over mobile networks has become the most significant one for mobile apps.

A true mobile CDN solution should address the unique mobile content delivery challenges with a focus on the last mobile mile. It should also take advantage of the unique characteristics of mobile apps, such as app session, unique session ID and the ability to choose the underlying transport protocol.

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PacketZoom Mobile Expresslane is an example of a last mile mobile app acceleration solution that removes mobile network related bottlenecks.

Amazon CloudFront and PacketZoom: the perfect bundle for mobile app acceleration

PacketZoom Mobile Expresslane is architected around AWS and perfectly pairs with Amazon Web CDN – CloudFront. While the two services operate independently, they reside in the same data centers so that the intracloud latency penalty is muted.

The benefits of a UDP-based protocol for efficient and reliable last mile delivery, combined with the simplicity and efficiency of CloudFront’s first and middle mile solution, leverages the complete set of technologies for optimal delivery:

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Faster downloads (images, game bundles, videos)

The combined solution offers maximum download speed through (1) fast access to static content that is cached in CloudFront servers and (2) delivery to the end user with the minimum number of round trips to the server, thanks to the PacketZoom proprietary protocol.

More responsive APIs and dynamic content delivery

CloudFront’s high availability combined with last mile session assurance from PacketZoom ensures high availability of API calls and dynamic content delivery. PacketZoom protocol is able to recover from network disconnect without the need to restart the session — this saves the need to restart connections and sessions, getting the content delivered more efficiently.

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Cost benefits to mobile app publishers

Surprisingly, thanks to PacketZoom’s volume discount, the cost of the combined solutions is not only lower than the total of the two services bought separately but actually lower than the cost of the Amazon CloudFront solution itself.

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