AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)


Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) icon

What is AWS Virtual Private Cloud and why is it important?

Amazon’s AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is a service that is used to launch virtual networks and create isolated sections inside the AWS Cloud. It is essentially the networking configuration and control of your cloud resources. With Amazon VPC you can control and restrict traffic to AWS resources and connect cloud and on-premises resources using Transit Gateways.

The on-premises comparison for the services that AWS VPC provides includes routers, modems, switches, and lots of cable.

Your VPC has a built-in router, and you can use routing tables to control network traffic. You can also control internet connectivity to a VPC and use gateways to connect your VPC to the internet, like the function of a modem. And you can create private subnets and peering connections, like you might have in a private network.

A quick example deployment of AWS Virtual Private Cloud:

A webserver and a database are hosted inside the VPC on a private subnet with no access to the internet. To allow traffic to and from the internet, a public subnet with an internet gateway is created within the VPC. For this web server to communicate with the internet a NAT (Network Address Translation) gateway is needed to send outbound traffic to the internet while staying hidden from direct access to the actual web server.

Example of an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) setup

Security groups and network ACLs (Access Control Lists) must be created for the web server to communicate with the databases. This will allow inbound and outbound traffic to the webserver’s private subnet and thus the connected database.

A Virtual Private Cloud on AWS offers multiple cost-saving benefits compared to traditional on-premises networks. With AWS, customers have access to enterprise-level hardware such as routers, modems, switches, and firewalls, which are provided and managed by AWS. This means that customers no longer need to bear the overhead costs associated with managing a physical data center, such as software patching, equipment cooling, and data center security. By offloading these responsibilities to AWS, customers can reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) for applications running on the VPC.

The VPC can also improve the level of security inside your AWS Cloud in numerous ways. By isolating a network, traffic can only flow between resources that are part of the same VPC or explicitly allowed to communicate with each other. By creating rules for inbound and outbound traffic, you can restrict access to resources thus mitigating your risk for downtime. VPCs also enable you to encrypt data in transit and at rest. Lastly, VPCs can log and monitor your network traffic in real time, enabling you to detect and respond to security incidents quickly.

Overall, a VPC can provide a more secure cloud environment by providing isolation, control, and visibility over your network traffic and resources. By mitigating some of the risks of owning a data center, you are reducing your TCO while having the freedom to scale rapidly as your application grows.

AWS VPC’s key components include:

Virtual Private Cloud Subnets

A subnet is a group of IP addresses. While Amazon VPC covers all the availability zones in a specific region, subnets are restricted to a single availability zone. Subnets are public when their traffic is routed via an internet gateway and private when the internet gateway is not attached.

In order to enable internet access to a subnet, the route table of the subnet should have an entry that diverts internet traffic to the internet gateway. Each instance in the subnet is assigned a unique private and public IP address. When traffic flows out of the internet gateway, the public IP address is used for communication. Conversely, when traffic flows into the VPC, the public IP address is translated to the private one, which remains hidden from the external world. This is called IP masquerading.

On-Premises Communication

Communication between an on-premises data center and Amazon VPC can be established using IPSec over the internet, AWS Direct Connect, or AWS PrivateLink. With IPSec over the internet, VPN connections are configured over the internet to establish communication between the data center and AWS cloud. If you don’t want to create connections over the internet, you can use AWS Direct Connect or AWS PrivateLink to establish a connection between your on-premises resources and Amazon VPC. Because traffic never leaves the AWS network, AWS PrivateLink does not require a VPN connection, NAT instances, or a direct link.

How AWS Virtual Private Cloud Enhances Cloud Security

AWS Virtual Private Cloud can enhance cloud security using features such as:

Security Groups

Security groups act as the firewall for Amazon VPC resources and are assigned at the instance level. If you want to restrict traffic to and from an Amazon EC2 instance, create a security group.  A default security group will be assigned if you do not choose one explicitly. There can be a maximum of five security groups assigned to one instance.

Network Access Control Lists

A network access control list (ACL) is an optional line of defense for your VPC and is configured at subnet level. Default ACLs allow all inbound and outbound traffic, both IPv4 and IPv6, through your subnet.

Flow Logs

Flow logs help monitor and troubleshoot Amazon VPC’s network interfaces and subnets. You can enable flow logs for an interface or subnet that you want to monitor and access the flow logs via Amazon CloudWatch. While there are no additional charges for using the flow logs, CloudWatch charges will apply.

How to protect AWS VPC

Amazon VPC is the backbone of AWS cloud security, providing multiple ways to establish a secure communication with corporate data centers, such as through VPN connections and direct and private links. With the help of security groups and access control lists, inbound and outbound traffic can be further restricted to provide complete end-to-end network security.

But what do you if you have an outage or other event that requires you to restore your VPC configuration?

N2WS can capture the VPC and Transit Gateway settings as root resources (including the related resources) of user environments and clone those settings back to AWS:
  • In the same region and account, for example, if the original settings were lost.
  • To another region and/or account, such as in DR scenarios.
  • With VPC resource properties modified in template uploaded with CloudFormation, if required.

Try N2WS Backup & Recovery for free.

Picture of Declan Gogan
Declan Gogan

Declan is a Channel & Alliance rep for N2WS. When he’s not helping customers optimize their cloud environments and writing easy-to-understand technical content, you can find him spending time on the golf course, improving his game.

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