Amazon Launches Virtual Private Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AMZN) has introduced Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, which allows companies to connect a set of Amazon EC2 instances with a corporate data center using a VPN over IPsec.

Rich Miller

August 26, 2009

5 Min Read
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A diagram of Amazon Virtual Private Cloud and how it connects cloud-based resources to existing private networks.


A diagram of Amazon Virtual Private Cloud and how it connects cloud-based resources to existing private networks.

Amazon Web Services has introduced Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), which allows companies to connect a set of Amazon EC2 instances with a corporate data center using a virtual private network (VPN) connection over the IPsec protocol. This offers a "cloudbursting" capability that allows enterprises to quickly expand the capacity of in-house applications while buying the extra capacity on a "pay as you go" usage-based model. The Amazon installation serves as an extension of the private network, as the EC2 instances within the VPC have no Internet-facing IP addresses. Amazon VPC is in limited beta and accepting applications.

Here's a roundup of information and commentary about the new Amazon Virtual Private Cloud:

  • "This new offering lets you take advantage of the low cost and flexibility of AWS while leveraging the investment you have already made in your IT infrastructure," writes Amazon Web Services tech evangelist Jeff Barr, who provides a step-by-step guide toi deploying resources to Amazon VPC.

  • Amazon CTO Werner Vogels says the Amazon VPC offering was developed to meet the needs of CIOs frustrated with many private cloud offerings. "These CIOs know that what is sometimes dubbed 'private cloud' does not meet their goal as it does not give them the benefits of the cloud: true elasticity and capex elimination," Werner writes. "Virtualization and increased automation may give them some improvements in utilization, but they would still be holding the capital, and the operational cost would still be significantly higher ... I define the cloud by its benefits, as those are very clear. What are called private clouds have little of these benefits and as such, I don't think of them as true clouds."

  • Looking beyond Amazon, the must-read post is Christofer Hoff's colorfully titled analysis: Calling All Private Cloud Haters: Amazon Just Peed On Your Fire Hydrant. "It should be noted that now that the 800lb Gorilla has staked a flag, this will bring up all sorts of additional auditing and compliance questions, as any sort of broad connectivity into and out of security zones and asset groupings always do," he writes.

  • Sam Charrington at Appistry counters Hoff with his analysis, Amazon VPC Pees in Pool, Not Just on Fire Hydrant. "With this announcement, Amazon is attempting, intentionally or not, to co-opt the notion of private clouds by adopting confusing and misleading terminology," Charrington writes. "By claiming 'isolation' and naming the service VPC, the offering at best contributes to industry confusion around private clouds. At worst it may be outright misleading."

  • An interesting take from John West at InsideHPC: "I think this is relevant to (high performance computing) because it begins to address one of the fundamental concerns that organizations cite when they talk about why they have to own their HPC resources," he writes. "The big picture here is not one of cloud, or grid, or any of the other fads of the moment. The underlying issue is the development of a viable commercial option for enterprises to adopt HPC technologies that can be effective for their businesses without having to take the “HPC plunge” — that big leap of faith a non-HPC organization takes when it decides to disrupt its existing IT environment and established skills set by moving some part of its work onto a cluster of some sort." 

  • ReadWriteWeb looks at the new offering in the context of cloud competition. "VPC is really a compromise for Amazon that acknowledges the attraction that private clouds have for the enterprise," writes Steven Walling. "Amazon is basically creating a hybrid cloud, one that uses some of the standard enterprise encryption methods."

  • CEO Michael Crandell of RightScale, a key Amazon partner, offers an interesting description of th new service: "The best way I’ve found to describe a VPC is a datacenter on a stick: you launch your servers into a balloon within Amazon’s infrastructure and you get a VPN link to tie them all back into your datacenter."

  • GigaOm: "Amazon is trying to offer the economic benefits of cloud computing in a palatable format for businesses that are weighing whether or not they should try to build their own in-house cloud infrastructures," writes GigaStacey Higginbotham.

  • "The move fills in a big missing enterprise-friendly piece for Amazon Web Services and may ease the migration to the cloud," writes Larry Dignan at ZDNet. "Simply put, no company is going to toss years of data center investments—not to mention all of the management software and best practices that go with them—to go entirely cloud."

  • Lori McVittie of F5 Networks takes a broader look at Amazon VPC and cloud connections, wondering if this is reinventing the wheel, and how new wheels may differ from old ones. 

  • At CloudPundit, Lydia Leong notes that other providers have offered VPC functionality. "Other cloud compute service providers have offered VPN options, including GoGrid and SoftLayer," she writes. "What distinguishes the Amazon offering is that the provisioning is fully automated, and the technology is proprietary. This is an important step forward for Amazon, and it will probably cause some re-evaluations by prospective customers who previously rejected an Amazon solution because of the lack of connectivity options beyond public Internet only."

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