The AWS networking and content delivery services provide you the means to put your infrastructure in the cloud. These offerings are focused on the networking side of things (as the name tells us) rather than the actual servers. This is where we go to direct users to our solutions or and protect our systems from outsiders.
In general, the Amazon services are on the Internet and open to the world. That is why most of them start out in a “locked down” mode. Amazon assumes we do not want to let everyone in the world access our services. In the legacy world, we would only have a few points of access to the Internet from our network. The bulk of our devices and resources are behind those access points. Amazon allows us to do the same thing. We can set up a virtual network where our resources can easily access each other, but the “outside world” is limited in ways to access that network.
The concepts of a virtual network are nothing new. If you have spent any time putting together an infrastructure, then you will see similarities in the Cloud. This even includes direct and high-speed connections into your environment as opposed to the slower speed access via the Internet.
Abstraction and Direction
Outside of providing a way to define your network in the cloud, the services we look at this week allow you to direct users to services. This goal is accomplished through layers of abstraction. We get some benefits from taking this path. These may not be obvious, but they are the types of features one expects from an enterprise environment.
When we add a layer of abstraction, it makes our systems more secure. We limit the number of access points and options to our systems from hackers. A layer of abstraction can even provide a firewall to access that can be completely turned off if needed. We are all familiar with the concept of a firewall. Sometimes it helps to remember how we construct a structure that provides that feature.
We also get to direct traffic in ways that improve performance. The limited options for flow make it easier to catalog and evaluate how to best direct that traffic. This can be done through some load balancing techniques. The best part about the virtual network and services is that we can also dynamically create new resources and direct traffic to them as needed. Think about a busy road where we can magically build another route to carry traffic during rush hour.
Although these services can be tested at a low cost, the pricing is not as straightforward as others in the AWS world. The pricing calculator is always helpful, but only if you understand your needs in detail. I would set some pricing alerts or do short-term tests to get comfortable with what these services will cost to implement. Better safe than sorry.