Amazon boosts identity management, private cloud offerings

AWS said enterprises have been asking for the new capabilities

Amazon Web Services will introduce new capabilities for enterprises on Thursday, including identity federation and support for private network connections to AWS.

Its new Direct Connect service allows enterprises to establish a direct connection to Amazon from their data center or colocation provider. They'll be able to run a private line to one of several Direct Connect locations planned around the world, starting with one operated by Equinix in Virginia. AWS' Virginia data center is connected to that facility.

A direct connection will allow enterprises to control the speed of their connection to Amazon. "If they provision a fat pipe to the AWS cloud, they'll have high throughput," said Adam Selipsky, a vice president with AWS. "It should cut down on latency and unpredictability, given that it's their pipe and they're controlling what and how much goes through it."

Some companies already have private connections to the Equinix data center, but even those that have to provision a line should be able to cut costs, he said. "The point is they aren't paying an Internet transit provider for a bunch of bandwidth, which can be expensive," he said.

Data transfers to AWS are free, but companies that use Direct Connect will pay based on the number of ports they establish with Amazon. Amazon also charges for transferring data out of the cloud.

Later this year, AWS will add Direct Connect locations in San Jose, California; Los Angeles; London; Tokyo and Singapore.

Amazon is also trying to make it easier for enterprises to manage user permissions. It already offers an access management tool that lets IT administrators set permissions for individual workers. But many companies already have existing identity management tools, such as LDAP or Microsoft's Active Directory. Now, enterprises can extend those existing identity management systems to AWS.

"This concept has been a significant request by a number of enterprises over a period of time, so we're pretty excited about enabling it," Selipsky said.

AWS is also announcing some additions to the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud offering, including expanding its availability to all AWS regions. That means enterprises can set up a private cloud service with specified IP addresses and networking configurations in all five Amazon regions, which are U.S. East and West, Europe, Singapore and Tokyo.

Enterprises can also now architect their Amazon Virtual Private Clouds across availability zones, in order to build in resiliency, and connect multiple VPNs to their private cloud. That should be helpful to companies that have branch offices, Selipsky said. In the past, companies would have had to set up multiple accounts with AWS, one for each branch.

While Amazon is one of the largest and best known providers of cloud computing services, it has had a reputation for offering a no-frills service without some features that enterprises might need or find attractive. The new capabilities should appeal to enterprises and the breadth of Amazon's services should continue to attract a variety of customers, Selipsky said.

"In general, competitors have come in relatively recently with generally a narrower set of offerings or capabilities, and so our feeling is that if we can keep innovating quickly on behalf of our customers and filling in whatever the next set of capabilities is that they want to see, that we can satisfy our customers' needs as well as stay ahead of anybody else who is trying to provide those types of services," he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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