Getting started with Cloud Files and CDN

  • Last updated on: 2016-01-14
  • Authored by: Stephanie Fillmon

This guide provides an overview of Rackspace Cloud Files and its features to help you get started quickly and serve content over Akamai’s CDN service.

Overview

Cloud Files allows you to store data on the Rackspace infrastructure. The Cloud Control Panel allows customers to accomplish most tasks for managing data, but the Cloud Files API Developer Guide and some third-party tools are also available.

The basics of Cloud Files include:

  • Cloud Files is a cloud storage system and not a traditional file system
  • You must create containers in the storage system to store data
  • You cannot create containers within other containers
  • You can have any number of top level containers
  • Your data is stored in objects within those containers
  • You can have any number of objects within each container
  • Objects can vary in size from a few bytes to very large
  • You can interact with Cloud Files through the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel or language-specific programming interfaces

For more details, see the Cloud Files Key Concepts.

What is the CDN?

Using the Akamai content delivery network (CDN) service, Cloud Files brings you a powerful and easy way to publish content over a world-class industry leading CDN. Customers automatically get access to this network as part of using the Cloud Files service. The way it works is by distributing the content that you upload to Cloud Files across a global network of edge servers. What this means is that when someone is viewing content from your site, your CDN-enabled content will be served to them from the closest geographic edge server to their location. This feature dramatically increases the speed at which websites can load, no matter where your viewer is located.

This can be a great advantage when hosting content for an international audience. Though you can also use the API to upload content to Cloud Files, another way is to use the File Manager interface in the Cloud Control Panel. To store content on Cloud Files, you start by creating a container for your content. The container name should have no breaks, spaces, or special characters. Unlike a folder or directory, a container cannot have subdirectories. All your content will be at one level below the container name.

Use Akamai’s CDN with Cloud Files

Rackspace Cloud Files uses Akamai Technologies, Inc. a leading, tier one, global Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider to offer the benefits to all Cloud Files users. Today Akamai handles tens of billions of daily Web interactions for their customers such as Audi, NBC, Fujitsu, U.S. Department of Defense, and NASDAQ.

The Rackspace Cloud Files/Akamai relationship brings full-fledged, robust CDN capabilities and unlimited file storage to developers and corporate IT departments alike. The CDN capability will greatly enhance the quality of the end user experience by speeding the delivery of bandwidth-heavy rich content, including audio and video. For literally pennies per gigabyte of bandwidth and storage and no upfront commitments, the CDN advantage is now available to all not just to the giants of the internet. This partnership brings unlimited online storage, scalable content delivery, and application acceleration services, thereby allowing businesses to more easily and affordably distribute content to millions of end users around the world. Together with Akamai, Rackspace has democratized content delivery.

With Akamai’s service, Cloud Files brings a powerful and easy way to publish content over a world-class, industry leading CDN. A Cloud Files user automatically gets access to this network. Users have to mark containers for publishing to CDN, and then they are instantly accessible through Akamai CDN. The propagation of content to the edge locations is done automatically behind the scenes. The Rackspace Cloud Files/Akamai offering is not a one-off solution; content published through it is distributed across their entire infrastructure just as it is for other customers.

In the Rackspace Cloud control panel, it is a matter of creating a Container (the storage compartment for data), uploading Objects (the files to serve over CDN), and marking the Container as “public”. The Container is then assigned a unique URL which can be combined with Object names to embed in web pages, email messages, blog posts, etc. For example, a user could upload a photo to a Container called “images”. When this Container is published, it will be assigned a unique URL like http://c0000532.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspace.com. The user could then share a link to the photo with link like http://c0000532.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspace.com/IMG_3432.jpg. When that link is accessed, the photo is served from the CDN.

Create a container

  1. Log in to the Cloud Control Panel.
  2. In the top navigation bar, select Storage > Files.
  3. Click Create Container.
  4. Name the container, and then click Create Container.
  5. Click the gear icon next to the container to be made public and select Make Public (Enable CDN).
  6. Click Publish to CDN.

You can now share the files within the container.

Upload files to the container

  1. Click on the name of the container to which you want to upload files.
  2. Click Upload Files and select the files to upload.
  3. Click Open.
  4. After the file is uploaded, click Close Window.

    The file appears the list of available files within the container.

  5. Click the gear icon next to your file and select View All Links.

    Options for sharing your file are displayed.

To learn more about how to operate with Cloud Files through the API, read the article Connecting to Cloud Files and read the Cloud Files API Developer Guide.

Continue the conversation in the Rackspace Community.