10 min.

How to appropriately use edge accelerators in AWS

Overview of AWS edge accelerators and their use cases.

Edge acceleration in AWS, refers to services and technologies designed to improve application performance by processing data and requests closer to the end-user, thus reducing latency and improving user experience.



What are edge accelerators in AWS?


In AWS, a wide array of services function at the edge, encompassing aspects like computing, storage, IoT, machine learning, and content delivery. 


However, it's important to note that only AWS Global Accelerator and Amazon CloudFront are genuinely categorized as edge accelerator services.


Beyond these services, there are also some components of AWS's global infrastructure that play a role as edge accelerators. These include AWS Local Zones and AWS Wavelength, both of which significantly contribute to enhancing edge computing capabilities.



AWS Global Accelerator


AWS Global Accelerator is particularly beneficial for applications where consistent, low-latency performance is critical, such as gaming servers, VoIP, and IoT applications. 


To effectively utilize AWS Global Accelerator follow these steps:


Set Up Global Accelerator


Create an Accelerator

Initiate by creating an accelerator in AWS Management Console, which provides two anycast IP addresses as a consistent entry point to your applications.


Add Listeners

Set up listeners to handle incoming connections based on specified protocols and ports.


Configure Endpoint Groups

For each desired region, establish endpoint groups. These are collections of resources like Network Load Balancers, Application Load Balancers, EC2 instances, or Elastic IP addresses.


Assign Endpoints

Populate each endpoint group with appropriate endpoints. Traffic is directed to these endpoints by the Global Accelerator.



Traffic Management


Use Traffic Dials

Control the traffic flow to endpoint groups by adjusting traffic dials. This is useful for gradually shifting traffic or testing performance during updates.


Assign Endpoint Weights

Within each group, set weights for endpoints to manage the distribution of traffic.



Leverage Health Checks


Implement health checks to ensure traffic is rerouted away from unhealthy endpoints, maintaining application availability.



Global Accessibility


Utilize the static anycast IP addresses provided by Global Accelerator to facilitate low-latency access for users worldwide.



Flexibility in Resource Location


Shift endpoints between Availability Zones and Regions without the need to alter DNS settings or application configurations.



Amazon CloudFront


With its global caching and delivery capabilities, CloudFront serves as an effective edge computing platform. Using Amazon CloudFront as an edge accelerator involves setting up and configuring CloudFront to deliver your content from edge locations closest to your users. This reduces latency and improves the performance of your applications and websites. 


Here's how to appropriately use CloudFront as an edge accelerator:


Set Up CloudFront Distribution


Configure a CloudFront distribution with your origin server (such as S3 bucket or EC2 instance) to distribute content via a global network of edge locations.



Develop Lambda@Edge Functions


Create these functions in the US East (N. Virginia) region, using Node.js or Python. Ensure to test and release a specific version of the function.



Link Lambda to CloudFront


Associate your Lambda function version with specific cache behaviors and triggers in your CloudFront distribution, like viewer request triggers.



Execute Lambda at Edge Locations


When CloudFront processes requests, the linked Lambda function runs at the closest edge location to the user, optimizing content retrieval or delivery.



Customize Content with Lambda


Utilize Lambda@Edge to tailor, transform, or validate content right at the edge, enhancing performance and reducing latency.



AWS Local Zones


AWS Local Zones are components of AWS infrastructure rather than existing as independent services, can be activated directly through your account settings for usage. They are akin to edge accelerators, primarily designed to provide low-latency access, crucial for applications that demand rapid response times.



Proximity to Users


Local Zones position essential services like computing, storage, and databases nearer to populous areas, cutting down latency for users.



Availability of Core Services


Key AWS services such as EC2, EBS, EFS, and RDS are accessible within Local Zones, catering to workloads that demand ultra-low latency.



High-Bandwidth Connection to AWS Regions


Local Zones maintain a high-bandwidth, private network link to their parent AWS Region, ensuring swift access to the comprehensive range of AWS services.



Support for Hybrid Architectures


They facilitate the extension of Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) from the parent Region into a Local Zone, enabling the creation of hybrid applications that span across both Availability Zones and Local Zones.



Enhanced Performance with Load Balancing


Local Zones support services like Application Load Balancer, optimizing performance and evenly distributing traffic across various resources.



AWS WaveLengths


AWS WaveLengths are integral part of AWS infrastructure, bringing AWS services to the edge of the telecommunications 5G networks, specifically designed to minimize latency for mobile and connected devices. 


Here's how they align with the concept of edge accelerating:


AWS Services at the Edge of 5G


Wavelength brings AWS compute and storage services to the edge of 5G networks, positioning them closer to end-users and mobile devices.



Ultra-Low Latency for 5G Applications


It enables applications that require exceptionally low latency access to AWS services over 5G networks.



Direct Application Deployment on AWS Resources


Developers can deploy applications on AWS resources, such as EC2 instances, within Wavelength Zones. These zones are essentially extensions of the AWS Region but located at the network edge.



Reduced Latency through Wavelength Infrastructure


By directing traffic via Wavelength infrastructure, applications experience substantially lower latencies than when accessing AWS from a distant data center.



Edge Compute Platform for 5G


Wavelength serves as an edge compute platform, specifically tailored to enhance latency-sensitive applications operating over 5G networks connected to AWS.





AWS for the Edge - Services | Amazon Web Services

Viewing your accelerators - AWS Global Accelerator

Work with standard accelerators in AWS Global Accelerator - AWS Global Accelerator

Types of accelerators - AWS Global Accelerator

What is Edge Computing? - Edge Computing Explained - AWS

FAQs | What is Amazon Cloudfront CDN?

Does Global Accelerator share points of presence with CloudFront?

What is AWS Local Zones? - AWS Local Zones

What is AWS Wavelength? - AWS Wavelength

5G Edge Computing Infrastructure – AWS Wavelength Features – Amazon Web Services