The origin of CloudFronts competitive advantage

Sorry for the word play in the title, but I'm about to drop some nerd up in here. There is some FUD being spread by people who either don't understand the real advantages of Amazons cloudfront, or have a vested interest in spreading fear. One conversation that caught my attention for was in the comments section of an article published on GigaOM: Amazons cloudfront could strom rival CDNS

The two real competitive advantages I see are the pricing points (lack of contract, quick setup) and more technically that it eliminates the need of an origin server.

That last point is key -- you'll hear things like: "Cloud front doesn't have the ability to pull from an origin server, there for it is a big joke that can't compete with Akamai, LimeLight...etc".

This is bogus.

In most typical CDN setups that I know there is what is called an 'origin' server, the server where you continually host the content you want pushed out to the delivery network. As requests come in for specific assets most CDN providers will 'pull' the content off of your server by convention (specific URI/path) and publish to their cloud.

The problem with this setup?

It's so not cloud.

You are forced to maintain a perpetually running server, with enough storage for all the assets, which sits there slurping up space, electric and maintenance (admin) fees

Since CloudFront is built on the S3 storage service -- S3 is in essence the origin server. In fact CloudFront is merely an S3 bucket that has been blessed into a 'distribution' via a simple RESTful API call...

That's the origin of cloudfronts competitive advantage.