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How Amazon is Trying to Improve Cloud Networking with SD WAN

During the AWS re:invent 2020 virtual conference, the public cloud giant announced a new service that every other cloud will now race to replicate.

 By Sean Michael Kerner
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SD-WAN is a large and growing market that enables enterprises to more cost-effectively connect to data centers and branch offices. But what about the cloud? Sure there are SD-WAN technologies that use the cloud, but how can an organization benefit from an SD-WAN service to accelerate connections into the cloud? That's a question that wasn't easy to answer until December 10, 2020, with the announcement of AWS Transit Gateway Connect.

AWS’ Transit Gateway Connect

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the largest public cloud provider by revenue. This year AWS hosted its annual re:Invent conference as a three-week event with lots of new services announced, including at least three major networking advancements with Transit Gateway Connect easily being the most impactful.

AWS Transit Gateway is a service that has been available for several years, providing a way for users to connect on-premises networks with Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) instances in AWS. What hasn't been easy though is deploying SD-WAN to enable VPC connectivity. Simply put, what AWS Transit Gateway Connect provides is a native approach to integrate SD-WAN appliances with AWS Transit Gateway.

This isn't just AWS selling its own SD-WAN service either, it's AWS enabling organizations to choose from a number of leading SD-WAN vendors that are all integrated with the AWS Transit Gateway Connect effort. Among those vendors are Arista, Aruba, Cisco, Citrix, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Silver Peak. So yes, it's all of the major players. This is a big deal that quite literally changes the dynamics of SD-WAN in the AWS cloud.

Features of Transit Gateway Connect

Easily enabling SD-WAN connectivity in AWS will help to solve a real challenge that many organizations have had. It will also mean that new SD-WAN architectures that directly integrate VPC instances will be easier to deploy and it's likely that more organizations now make broader use of the AWS cloud platform as a result.

AWS' documentation on the new feature explains, "Transit Gateway Connect provides customers with added benefits such as improved bandwidth and supports dynamic routing with increased route limits, thus removing the need to set up multiple IPsec VPNs between the SD-WAN appliances and Transit Gateway. This simplifies the overall network design and reduces the associated operational cost."

Other cloud vendors have had some SD-WAN integrations in the past, but none have really quite done (yet) what AWS has. That will change soon enough and it's reasonable to expect that native SD WAN integration will be available in 2021 across all cloud vendors virtual private cloud-type platforms.

AWS Transit Connect

This article was originally published on Dec 17, 2020
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