The service's expansion illustrates how public clouds are likely to become direct extensions of enterprise data centers. Direct Connect is one of the below-the-radar factors that has made AWS more attractive to enterprise users. It lowers workload response times from the cloud to end users down into the millisecond range, making the cloud seem more like a server on the LAN. Direct Connect provides a 10-Gbps fiber optic link from an Equinix data center in a metropolitan area to an AWS center in the same region.
The Direct Connect link offers more predictable and private network access than ties through Internet service providers do. By using the link, a company can avoid depending on VPN connections, which are typically limited to 4-Gbps data transfer rates, according to the AWS Direct Connect website. The Direct Connect links come in both 10-Gbps and lower-cost, lower-speed 1-Gbps options.
[ Want to learn more about how Amazon implements its Direct Connect service? See Equinix Offers Private Cloud With A Twist. ]
AWS remains keenly interested in providing cloud services with more private data center attributes -- virtual private clouds. That interest has led it to form an extensive partnership with Equinix, which operates 22 telecommunications and data center facilities near major trading centers and urban areas. Equinix opened a new, $60 million center in Seattle in March, and AWS's expanded Direct Connect service is tied into Equinix facilities there.
Direct Connect first became available at Amazon's big US-East complex in Ashburn, Va., in April 2011. The customer ties into Direct Connect through an Equinix facility. AWS also offers Direct Connect via Equinix to its facilities in Santa Clara, Calif., Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.
The high-speed connections take a few days to be configured and become operative, as opposed to the weeks typically needed to get more private-line capacity from network service providers, an Equinix spokesman said.
With the Seattle facility's support for AWS GovCloud, it becomes more likely that government agencies can make use of Amazon servers to handle information formerly considered too sensitive or private to be sent to a public cloud setting. An existing Equinix customer can access GovCloud via Direct Connect from any existing Equinix location.