Amazon Adds Virtual Private Cloud Service

Lets enterprises extend their existing networks using IPsec-based VPN connections to create their own logically isolated Amazon EC2 instances.

To address a key objection to hosting data in the cloud, Amazon this week said it will offer a more secure iteration of its EC2 service. Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) will let enterprises extend their existing networks using IPsec-based VPN connections to create their own logically isolated Amazon EC2 instances, the company said.

Amazon, regarded as the largest and most influential provider of cloud services, said its new Amazon VPC is available for beta testing. The company bills it as a bridge between an organization's existing IT systems and the AWS cloud, allowing enterprises to tie their systems to AWS via a standard VPN connection, allowing them to create their own IP address space, thereby extending security, firewalls, and intrusion detection to the Amazon cloud.

"We have developed Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to allow our customers to seamlessly extend their IT infrastructure into the cloud while maintaining the levels of isolation required for their enterprise management tools to do their work," wrote Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a blog posting.

"All Internet-bound traffic generated by your Amazon EC2 instances within your VPC routes across the VPN connection, where it wends its way through your outbound firewall and any other network security devices under your control before exiting from your network," added Jeff Barr, Amazon's lead web services evangelist in a separate blog posting announcing Amazon VPC.

To create a VPC on Amazon, developers and administrators can define a private IP address space consisting of any IPv4 address range including Private Address Spaces identified by RFC 1918 or any other routable IP address bloc, according to Barr. From there, the developer can partition the IP address space into any number of subnets. Customers can create up to 20 subnets per VPC, though they can request more, Barr noted.

"It basically creates a secure private tunnel between your data center and your infrastructure and Amazon's," said industry analyst Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions. "It doesn’t dramatically change what you are doing it just makes it more mature, more mission critical, more in tune with what organizations are looking for when it comes to enterprise types of services."

Michael Dortch, acting director of research at San Francisco research firm Focus, said it appears Amazon is looking to expand its footprint of cloud services. "Any company that's big enough to build their own private cloud probably has gotten enough past this fear," Dortch noted. This will also appeal to medium sized business as well, Gardner added.

Pricing for a standard VPN connection its five cents per hour. Inbound data transfer is 10 cents per GB of data. Outbound data transfer starts at 17 cents per GB for the first 10 TB per month, scaling down to 10 cents for more than 150 TB.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.