Monday, January 22, 2018

What is AWS Direct Connect?

As I study for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification, one service that stood out to me was AWS Direct Connect. I didn't completely understand how it differed from a VPN connection or its use case. Here are a few high points about this service:

  • Provides a direct connection between your internal network and AWS environment.
  • The connection is made using either 1Gb or 10Gb Ethernet Fiber.
  • Uses both 802.1Q VLANs and BGP routing protocol
  • Supports IPv4 and IPv6 addressing. However the maximum MTU size supported is 1522 bytes (14 bytes ethernet header + 4 bytes VLAN tag + 1500 bytes IP datagram + 4 bytes FCS).
Interesting, it seems as if this direct connection is some type of VRF connection between the on-premise environment and AWS. You essentially have your router directly connect to an AWS router in a specific region via Fiber. This seems to come with a lot of caveats as you can probably see. How do you go about running fiber from your router to an AWS router? Well one requirement is that your network is collocated with an AWS Direct Connect location. You can use this link for current Direct Connect locations:

AWS Direct Connect Geographic Locations

There's a good chance you're probably not collocated with AWS, so does that mean you're out of luck? Not at all, the easier solution is to use a 3rd party AWS partner that offers this service. Partners can provide additional flexibility such as cabling and location Independence for direct connect. Along with even offering lower speeds at a lower cost such as 100Mbps, 500Mbps, etc. 

Direct Connect using AWS Partner

However if you're needing to traverse a Partner just to use Direct Connect, it may make more sense to use the many VPN options AWS offers. Direct Connect is a great solution for real-time data such as video and voice along with working with huge amounts of data between your network and AWS. It may be worth testing rather or not real-time data works sufficiently with AWS VPN as internet bandwidth is cheap now days.


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