Consider your home network for a moment. That’s a private network. You likely have a cable of fiber that runs into your home from the road, which links your home’s private network to your ISP, like Comcast or Verizon. That cable is connected to your modem, which is your connection to the Internet. The modem is connected to a router using a different cable which routes traffic between devices in the network and the Internet. You connect your devices, like your PC and laptop, to the router using the wireless network. Your home wi-fi setup is a private network where you can create your ecosystem for connecting devices and resources. A private network in the cloud is what AWS calls Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, more commonly referred to as Amazon VPC. Amazon VPC creates a logically isolated section in the cloud where you can provision your AWS resources. You can think of it like your corner of the cloud. You define what comes in, what goes out, and what lives inside. Amazon VPC is very flexible and secure, allowing you to control almost every aspect of your virtual network. It’s completely scalable, instantly scaling your resources up or down. It also has advanced security features, like security groups and network access control lists, to help you filter inbound and outbound traffic at the instance and subnet levels. When you sign up for an AWS cloud account, you automatically get a VPC provisioned and automatically configured sub-nets, IP ranges, route tables, and security groups to help you get started. The virtual private cloud is like your home network. The modem is the internet gateway. The router is the routing table. And your network’s firewall is the network access control list. Your devices are resources, like your EC2 instances, launched inside your VPC or private network. When you create your first AWS cloud account, you will make a logically isolated corner in this extensive cloud domain. You are free to develop and scale resources for your organization.
It pays to be fast in the modern competitive world. Back in the day, we were happy to have objects we ordered online reliably delivered to us. But then Amazon’s two-day shipping happened and now, waiting a week for your supplies to arrive became almost unbearable. In some cities, Amazon even has one-hour shipping for that emergency item you can’t seem to leave the house to buy. In the digital space, we went from buffering a 10-minute YouTube video to watching a 4K movie with no apparent lag on Netflix. Gone are when you had to wait for images to a fraction at a time or a whole webpage to load a few rows of text at a time. We want things fast, digital or physical, and we want them now. On the Internet, content delivery networks or CDNs are working behind the scenes to deliver your content faster and faster. Amazon’s global CDN service securely offers data, applications and APIs is called Amazon CloudFront. CloudFront integrates with many AWS services to provide optimal performance and security, including AWS Shield for DDOS mitigation. A CDN is a distributed server system that delivers website and application content to end users based on a few factors. These factors are the location of the user, the origin of the website or application, and the location of the content delivery server. The primary purpose of CDNs is to make loading websites and applications for end users faster. And Amazon CloudFront does this by using edge locations to cache files and resources for quicker retrieval. Imagine your favorite Cereal. Most of us go to the grocery store to pick some Lettuce or Peppers. Few of us live close enough to a farm to buy Lettuce from a farmer. Instead, distribution networks are set up between the farmer, which simplifies bringing the Lettuce to a grocery store nearby. All we had to do was pick up the produce from the local grocery store, where a truck traveled for days to bring the Lettuce from the farm. We can drive ten minutes instead of hours or even days to buy fresh produce. The farm is the origin, which on AWS could be an S3 bucket, EC2 instance, or Elastic load balancer, amongst a few other services. The truck then takes the goods to a grocery store where they are left to be sold to consumers or, in web terms, cached. In AWS, files and data are cached at edge locations. Once the data is downloaded to an edge location, it stays there for a certain period. At this point, users near the data center can retrieve the webpages or application resources from the edge location close to their location rather than going all the way to the origin, which could even be on a different continent. This allows for data to be retrieved faster with the best possible performance because users are not going back to the origin server to download the resources but rather accessing a location close to themselves. CloudFront is scalable, allowing you to start small and scale up as traffic to your application or webpage increases. It automatically manages traffic load without your intervention and utilizes application acceleration and optimization. There is no minimum commitment or a fixed-term contract, and you only pay for content delivered using the service. Amazon CloudFront is a busy city supermarket, making cached data quickly accessible to users worldwide using edge locations.
Amazon Route 53
If you’ve ever set up a website with yourowndomain.com, you probably used a domain name registrar to purchase and set up your domain. You might have used something like GoDaddy or Namecheap to name a few popular commercial domain name registrars. AWS, of course, has a service where you can purchase and set up domain names, but it can do much more. It’s called Amazon Route 53, and it’s a highly scalable cloud Domain Name System or DNS. It allows you to reliably and cost-effectively route your end users to your internet applications. It can connect user requests to infrastructure running on AWS, like an EC2 instance or an S3 bucket. It can also route users to infrastructure outside of AWS, acting as a DNS service for domains purchased at other domain name registrars. Route 53 is designed to be integrated with other AWS services, like mapping your domain names to your EC2 instance or S3 bucket. It’s simple to set up, fast, secure, and cost-effective. You are charged only for what you use, without any upfront fees or minimum usage commitments. It’s also designed to scale to handle large query volumes automatically. Route 53’s essential functions are domain registration, domain name system, or DNS, service, health checking of web application accessibility, and auto naming for service discovery. Utilizing the more robust features of Route 53 allows you to create websites and applications with high availability by automatically rerouting traffic catered to demand and integrating with services that send alerts when downtimes occur. One of the ways you could use Route 53 is to purchase yourowndomain.com, then route users who visit yourowndomain.com to a static website hosted on your S3 bucket. When visitors type in yourowndomain.com into a browser, they can load your static website because Route 53 does the legwork of routing the user to the resources you identified. You can think of Route 53 as a telephone operator. You would call the telephone operator back in the day to speak to your friend across the country. When the telephone operator got your request, they would use a switchboard to connect you to your friend. Route 53 works in similar ways, except with routing internet traffic.
AWS Network And Content Delivery Summary
In this tutorial, we went over three major network and content delivery services in AWS. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud or VPC, Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Route 53. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud or VPC is an isolated corner of AWS Cloud made just for you. You can provision your AWS resources into a virtual network you define with complete control over your virtual networking environment, from IP address range to configurational route tables and network gateways. It’s free and automatically created for you when you make your AWS account. Inside your Amazon VPC, you can create and scale your AWS Cloud resources to your heart’s content. Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network or CDN. The primary purpose of CDNs is to make websites and applications load faster. Amazon CloudFront achieves this by using Edge Locations worldwide to cache files and resources for quicker retrieval. By caching a video at an Edge Location in Orlando, Florida, someone who lives in Florida can stream the video much quicker than if there were no content delivery networks because they would have to download the video from the content origin, which could be anywhere in the world. Amazon CloudFront sees where you’re based and routes your traffic to the closest cache location. So you can enjoy the content without having to wait. It’s scalable, and you only pay for content delivered using the service. Amazon Route 53 sounds like a highway, and in a sense, it is kind of like a highway. If highways help take you from here to there, it is a highly scalable domain name system or DNS. It allows you to route your users to your internal applications. This could be in the form of your users accessing infrastructure running on AWS, like an EC2 instance. Its primary functions are domain registration, Domain Name System or DNS, health checking of web applications’ accessibility, and auto-naming for service discovery. It helps route your users to the appropriate resources you want them to access.