Amazon Web Services simplifies private cloud configuration, adds SQL Server

Users can now set up a link with Amazon's private cloud using static routing

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made it possible to connect to its Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) service using static routing, while also allowing enterprises to run SQL Server within the private cloud, the company said on Thursday.

Using a VPC companies can configure a private, isolated section of Amazon's cloud. Administrators can, for example, use subnets, routers, and access control lists to create the same type of network that one would find in a traditional data center, according to Amazon.

Encrypted VPN connections are used to communicate with the VPC instances. To make these connections easier to configure Amazon has added the option to create IPsec-based hardware VPN connections using static routing, instead of having to use BGP (Border Gateway Protocol).

The BGP routing protocol can be difficult to set up and to manage, and Amazon doesn't want to force users go through the hassle if all they want to do is set up a VPN connection to a VPC. It could also increase the potential market for the VPC service, as some firewalls and entry-level routers don't support BGP.

Amazon has tested the static routing option with devices from Cisco Systems, Juniper, Netgear, and Microsoft, and published a list of the products on its website.

Enterprises can set up two VPN connections by using two gateways at their end to improve redundancy.

But even though using BGP can be more complicated, it is still the preferred way to connect, according to Amazon. That's because the protocol does a liveness check on the IPSec tunnel and simplifies the failover procedure that is invoked when one VPN tunnel goes down, it said.

Besides the use of static routing, Amazon now also lets users launch RDS (Relational Database Service) instances running Microsoft SQL Server inside of their private cloud service. The company did the same for Oracle's database last month. This time around Amazon added a feature called Data Pump, which enables fast data transfers between Oracle databases.

The feature can be used to speed up transfers between an on-premises Oracle database and an RDS instance; between an Oracle database running on an EC2 instance and an RDS Instance; or between two RDS instances, according to Amazon.

A private cloud is usually seen as something that runs within an enterprise's data center, but that isn't always the case, according to market research company Gartner. Private cloud computing is defined by privacy, not location, ownership or management responsibility, and while the majority of private clouds will be on-premises, a growing percentage of private clouds will be outsourced, it said.

On Thursday, Amazon also launched the latest edition of the AWS Global Start-Up Challenge, which will award four winners US$50,000 in cash, $50,000 in credits, one year of AWS Business Support, and four one-hour technical mentoring sessions from Amazon.

The competition is split into four categories: big data, gaming, consumer applications and enterprise applications. Deadline for submitting an entry is Nov. 9 and the winners will be announced in January.

Competition details have been published on a dedicated website.

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