Leveraging AWS Global Backbone for Data Center Migration and Global Expansion

Many companies run their applications in data centers, server rooms or in space rented from colocation providers in multiple countries. Those companies usually have a mixture of a small number of central large data centers where their core systems are hosted in several smaller, regional data centers. These offices in the multiple countries require access to applications running in the local data centers, usually in the same country, as well as to applications running in the remote data centers. Companies have taken the approach of establishing a self-managed, international wide area network (WAN) or contracting it as a service from a telecommunications provider to enable connectivity between the different sites. As customers migrate workloads to AWS Regions, they need to maintain connectivity between their offices, AWS Regions, and existing on-premises data centers.

This blog post discusses architectures applicable for international data center migrations as well as to customers expanding their business to new countries. The proposed architectures enable access to both AWS and on-premises hosted applications. These architectures leverage the AWS global backbone for connectivity between customer sites in different countries and even continents.

Let’s look into a use case where a customer has their central data center that hosts its core systems located in London, United Kingdom. The customer has rented space from a colocation provider in Mumbai to run applications required to be hosted in India. They have an office in India where users need access to the applications running in their Mumbai data center as well as the core systems running in their London data center. Those different sites are interconnected by a global WAN as illustrated on the diagram below.

Initial architecture with a global WAN interconnecting customer’s sites

Figure 1: Initial architecture with a global WAN interconnecting customer’s sites

The customer then migrates their applications from their Mumbai data center to the AWS Mumbai region. Users from the customer’s offices in India require access to applications running in the AWS Mumbai Region as well as the core systems running in their London data center. To enable access to the applications hosted in the AWS Mumbai Region, the customer established a connection from their India offices to the AWS Mumbai region. These connections can leverage AWS Direct Connect (DX) or an AWS Site-to-Site VPN. We will also use AWS Transit Gateway (TGW) which allows for customer traffic to transit through AWS infrastructure. For the customer sites using AWS Direct Connect, we attach an AWS Transit Gateway to a Direct Connect gateway (DXGW) to enable customers to manage a single connection for multiple VPCs or VPNs that are in the same region. To optimize their WAN cost, the customer leverages AWS Transit Gateway inter-region peering capability to connect their AWS Transit Gateway in the AWS Mumbai region to their AWS Transit Gateway in the AWS London region. Traffic using inter-region Transit Gateway peering is always encrypted, stays on the AWS global network, and never traverses the public Internet. Transit Gateway peering enables international, in this case intercontinental, communication. Once the traffic arrives at the London region’s Transit Gateway, the customer routes the traffic over an AWS Direct Connect (or VPN) to the central data center, where core systems are hosted.

As applications are migrated from the central data center in London to the AWS London Region, users from India office are able to seamlessly access applications hosted in the AWS London region and on-premises. The architecture below demonstrates the traffic between the customer sites and also from a customer site to a local and a remote AWS Region.

Access from customer sites to applications in AWS regions and on-premises via AWS Global Network

Figure 2: Access from customer sites to applications in AWS regions and on-premises via AWS Global Network

As the customer expands internationally, the architecture evolves to allow access from new international offices such as in Sydney and Singapore to the other customer sites as well as to AWS regions via the AWS Global Network. Depending on the bandwidth requirements, a customer can use AWS DX to the nearest AWS region and then leverage AWS Transit Gateway inter-region peering, as demonstrated on the diagram below for the Singapore site. For sites where a VPN-based connection meets the bandwidth and user experience requirements, the customer can leverage accelerated site-to-site VPN using AWS Global Accelerator, as illustrated for the Sydney office. This architecture allows thousands of sites to be interconnected and use the AWS global network to access applications running on-premises or in AWS.

Global connectivity facilitated by AWS Global Network

Figure 3: Global connectivity facilitated by AWS Global Network

Considerations

The following are some of the characteristic customers should consider when adopting the architectures described in this blog post.

  • You have a fixed hourly cost of TGW attachments, VPN and DX connections.
  • There is also a variable usage-based component that depends on the amount of traffic that flows through TGW, OUT of AWS, and inter-region.
  • In comparison, a fixed price model is often offered by telecommunications providers for the entire network.

For customers with a high number of sites in the same geographical area, consider setting up a regional WAN. This could be done with SD-WAN technologies or private WAN connections. A regional WAN is used to interconnect different sites with nearest AWS region also connected to the regional WAN. Such design uses the AWS global network for international connectivity and a regional WAN for regional connectivity between customer sites.

Conclusion

As customers migrate their applications to AWS, they can leverage the AWS global network to optimize their WAN architecture and associated costs. Leveraging TGW inter-region peering enable customers to build architectures which facilitate data center migration as well as international business expansion, while allowing access to workloads running either on-premises or in AWS regions. For a list of AWS regions where TGW inter-region peering is supported, please refer to the AWS Transit Gateway FAQ.