What is a Virtual Private Cloud?
A new emerging model is gaining popularity among cloud customers. A virtual private cloud (VPC) is a private cloud environment hosted within a public cloud environment.
Like the private cloud, with a VPC, you can run code and apps, store data, and process information as if using your private cloud. However, a public cloud provider hosts your environment.
VPC provides the privacy and security of a private cloud while offering the numerous advantages of public clouds, such as cost-saving, scalability, and zero downtime.
The VPC model is an isolated network that separates cloud customers from each other. For instance, when using a VPC, other cloud customers can’t see or access your data and apps. The cloud provider maintains this separation using different methods.
How Does a VPC Work?
The underlying VPC environment contains the same resources we find when running on-premises solutions. However, it exists in the cloud.
A Virtual Server Instance
A virtual server instance (VSI) is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) virtual server that allows a cloud customer to dedicate the required amount of processing power, memory, and networking performance to each instance based on the app to install. For example, if you have a cloud app for drawing graphics, you can customize the VSI instance with more RAM and GPUs and install Windows OS if the application runs on Windows.
The Storage Unit
The storage unit includes all HDD or SSD devices used to store the VPC data. You can scale the storage volume up or down based on customer needs.
You use networking components to facilitate communication between your VPC and on-premises infrastructure or provide data communications between the different segments composing your VPC environment. The network component can be complex. For example, it can contain all protections and tools that allow external users to access the VPC segment using the internet.
Technologies Used to Isolate a VPC within a Public Cloud
These are the different technologies that isolate VPC environments from other public cloud customers.
A subnet contains a pool of IP addresses in the VPC. For instance, a VPC customer can dedicate a range of IPs for resources — such as email and web servers — that they want available from the internet. At the same time, the customer can commit another subnet with private IP addresses for the resources not connected to the internet, such as backup storage.
LAN stands for local area network. A LAN is a local network that connects different computing devices in one network to one server. A LAN can connect devices located in a single physical location, and the connection could be through ethernet cables or WIFI. A VLAN is a virtual LAN used to connect devices located on various LANs.
A VLAN can segment computer networks (using layer 2 of the Open Systems Interconnection model) and group devices in different physical locations into one network. You can create a VLAN using bridges, routers, and switches.
A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection between two points. Individuals commonly use it to access remote resources securely. A VPN creates an encrypted channel that scrambles everything that passes through it.
A VPN creates encrypted data communication channels between the resources that comprise the VPC in the public cloud network. For instance, unauthorized parties — such as other public cloud customers — cannot intercept data belonging to one VPC when it travels across public cloud switches and routers.
A VPN can also secure communication when exchanging data between the client VPC environment and its on-premises networks.
Network Address Translation
Network address translation (NAT) is a technique to make one IP address represent many private IP addresses. For example, in a LAN network, a router or a NAT firewall is assigned one public IP address to represent all private IPs within the network. There could be 40 computers using private IPs to access one LAN while one router connects them all to the public internet using one public IP address. Companies use NAT for both security and economic reasons. For safety, it prevents external observers from knowing the number of devices (or their IPs) within a private network. On the other hand, NAT allows one public IP address to connect hundreds of devices to the internet.
A VPC uses NAT technology to enable resources within a VPC to connect to other resources outside the VPC while preventing external services from initiating the same connections to private VPC subnets.
Benefits of a VPC
There are several benefits to using VPCs.
High Level of Uptime
Public cloud providers have many customers who invest heavily in their IT infrastructure to ensure higher uptime. A high uptime level makes a VPC ideal for running mission-critical services.
Since a VPC runs within a public cloud, customers can quickly scale their resources (computing processing power, memory, and networking performance) up and down, meaning you don’t need to pay for services you aren’t using.
Integration with Other Environments
You can easily integrate a VPC with existing environments such as on-premises and another public or private cloud environment. A VPC can also integrate with other VPC instances.
Hosting websites and applications on the cloud using a VPC is far better than on-premise. Public cloud providers have vast resources and can serve many users efficiently without service interruption.
Small and medium-sized enterprises typically can’t afford the required resources to maintain modern IT infrastructure when using private clouds. In the private cloud model, the customer is responsible for everything (both software and hardware) in the environment.
In contrast, a VPC is hosted and managed by a public cloud provider. Those providers own the required resources to use innovative technology while having the resources to hire many support staff to maintain a high level of up-time. A VPC also provides security which is attractive to companies with limited budgets operating in a private cloud environment.
VPC vs. VPN vs. Public Versus Private
A VPC is a cloud service you can use like any private cloud deployment to host data, applications, and other services. Organizations can use a VPC to create a secure private cloud environment within a public cloud environment while tapping into the benefits offered by public cloud providers.
A VPN is technology organizations, and individuals use to create secure interactions between two points — commonly a client and server — on the internet. Outside observers cannot see anything that passes through this tunnel. A VPC uses the VPN service to facilitate communication with other VPC segments within the public cloud environment. In other words, a VPN allows remote users, services, and apps to securely communicate with the resources within a VPC through the internet.
Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon cloud (AWS) are examples of public clouds. In this model, many users — both organizations and individuals — share the same cloud resources. However, when deploying a VPC within a public cloud, other users can’t see or intercept any data within the VPC. The public cloud provider dedicates specific resources (computing power, networking, and storage capacity) to each VPC instance and doesn’t share these resources with other cloud customers.
A private cloud model is when one customer is using cloud resources. Customers who own a private cloud are responsible for everything, from IT infrastructure maintenance to installing software and apps that administer and run the private cloud. A private cloud can be on-premise or managed by a third-party cloud provider. Organizations with high-security standards who don’t want to use shared resources typically use the private cloud.
- VPC stands for virtual private cloud. It’s a private cloud environment hosted within a public cloud environment
- A VPC gives its customers the advantages of private and public clouds while eliminating many disadvantages. For this reason, businesses around the world are jumping on this model
- With high uptimes, cost-effectiveness, easy integration with other environments, increased performance, security, and ease of use — virtual private clouds look promising as the cloud model of the future