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AWS Direct Connect Dedicated vs Hosted: A Comprehensive Guide

What is AWS Direct Connect?

AWS Direct Connect is a service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that allows enterprises to establish dedicated network connections from their on-premises data centers to AWS. Organisations can choose either dedicated or hosted connections and these links can offer more reliable and consistent network performance compared to using the public internet. Orixcom offers both dedicated and hosted connections, to decide which one suits them best, enterprises should look at the features of both and choose the one that most closely aligns with their business needs.  

The Direct Connect Network Components encompass essential elements in AWS Direct Connect connectivity. Direct Connect Locations serve as physical facilities where customers establish connections to AWS. The Customer Router, located on-premises, is responsible for establishing the physical link to AWS Direct Connect. In AWS Direct Connect locations, the AWS-managed DX Router facilitates the connection between the customer's network and AWS infrastructure. 

Moreover, Virtual Interfaces play a crucial role as logical interfaces created on the Direct Connect connection. These interfaces enable customers to establish connections to various AWS resources, including Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), Amazon S3, and other AWS services. Altogether, these network components form the foundation for secure, dedicated, and high-performance connectivity between on-premises data centers and the AWS Cloud. 

Connections (Dedicated and Hosted both provided by Orixcom): 

  • Dedicated Connections:

    These are physical Ethernet connections that provide a dedicated link between the customer's on-premises network and AWS. They come in different speeds, ranging from 1 Gbps to 100 Gbps.  

  • Hosted Connections:

    Instead of establishing a physical connection, customers can use a hosted connection. In this case, the physical connection is provisioned by a Direct Connect partner. This provides flexibility in terms of speed and management, as the partner handles the physical connectivity. 

Virtual Interfaces: 

  • Private Virtual Interface (VIF):

    This connects the customer's on-premises network to one of their Amazon VPCs. Traffic over this interface is isolated and does not traverse the public internet. 

  • Public Virtual Interface (VIF):

    This connects the customer's on-premises network to public AWS services like S3, DynamoDB, etc. It allows for accessing AWS public services without using the internet.
  • Transit Virtual Interface (VIF):

    This facilitates hub-and-spoke connectivity, enabling efficient communication between multiple Amazon VPCs and on-premises networks with transitive routing. Choosing the right connection type in AWS Direct Connect is crucial for optimising performance, reliability, and cost. Some factors to consider include: 
  • Performance: Dedicated connections generally provide more predictable and consistent network performance compared to hosted connections. The choice of speed is also crucial based on the expected traffic volume. 
  • Redundancy: Consider implementing redundant connections to ensure high availability. AWS Direct Connect supports the creation of redundant connections to the same or different Direct Connect locations. 
  • Cost: Different connection types have associated costs. Evaluate the pricing model based on your organisation's budget and usage patterns. Hosted connections, for example, might offer more flexible pricing options. 
  • Flexibility: Hosted connections provide more flexibility as they can be provisioned through partners, allowing for different speeds and more straightforward management.

Improve your network performance with AWS Direct Connect

Orixcom Managed AWS Direct Connect Dedicated

Dedicated Connections in AWS Direct Connect involve establishing a physical Ethernet connection between the customer's on-premises data center and an AWS Direct Connect location. This dedicated link provides a private and direct pathway to AWS resources, bypassing the public internet. Dedicated Connections come in various speeds, ranging from 1 Gbps to 100 Gbps, and they provide a robust and reliable network connection between the customer's network and AWS. 

Benefits of AWS Direct Connect Dedicated: 

1. Higher Reliability and Lower Latency: 

  • Reliability: Dedicated Connections offer higher reliability compared to internet-based connections. The direct, private link ensures a consistent and stable connection, reducing the risk of disruptions that can occur on the public internet. 
  • Lower Latency: By avoiding the public internet, dedicated connections can provide lower latency, which is crucial for applications sensitive to network delays, such as real-time communication or financial transactions. 

2. Guaranteed Bandwidth: 

Dedicated Connections provide a guaranteed amount of bandwidth, ensuring that customers have a consistent level of network performance. This is essential for applications that require a stable and predictable connection, particularly for data-intensive workloads or large-scale data transfers. 

3. Isolation for Enhanced Security: 

Dedicated Connections offer a private and isolated network connection, reducing exposure to potential security threats that may exist on the public internet. Traffic over the dedicated link doesn't traverse shared networks, enhancing the overall security posture of the connection. 

4. Reduced Costs: 

While there are costs associated with setting up and maintaining a Dedicated Connection, it can lead to cost savings in the long run. By providing a dedicated and predictable connection, organisations can potentially avoid the costs associated with variable network performance and the potential need for additional network infrastructure to compensate for internet-related challenges. 

Orixcom Managed AWS Direct Connect Hosted

AWS Direct Connect Hosted Connections provide an alternative to Dedicated Connections by allowing customers to establish a connection through a Direct Connect partner rather than provisioning a physical dedicated link themselves. With Hosted Connections, a third-party Direct Connect partner manages the physical connectivity, allowing customers to connect to AWS resources over a shared physical link provided by the partner. This option offers flexibility in terms of connection speeds, and it simplifies the management of the physical infrastructure. 

Advantages of AWS Direct Connect Hosted: 

1. Cost-Effectiveness: 

Hosted Connections can be cost-effective for organisations that do not want to invest in or manage the physical infrastructure required for a dedicated connection. Customers can leverage the infrastructure provided by a Direct Connect partner, potentially leading to cost savings in terms of upfront capital expenditure and ongoing maintenance. 

2. Simplified Management: 

Managing the physical infrastructure, such as routers and connections, can be complex and resource intensive. Hosted Connections simplify the management process by offloading the responsibility of maintaining the physical connectivity to a Direct Connect partner. This allows organisations to focus on managing their network configurations and optimising their AWS resources rather than dealing with the intricacies of the underlying physical infrastructure. 

3. Scalability: 

Hosted Connections offer scalability by allowing customers to choose from different connection speeds provided by the Direct Connect partner. This flexibility enables organisations to scale their network connectivity based on evolving requirements without the need to invest in and manage additional physical infrastructure. It's a more adaptable solution for organisations with dynamic or growing workloads.

4. Flexibility in Contract Terms: 

Hosted Connections often provide more flexibility in contract terms. Customers can choose from different plans offered by the Direct Connect partner, allowing for adjustments based on usage patterns and business needs. This flexibility is beneficial for organisations with variable workloads or changing connectivity requirements. 

AWS DX Locations 

AWS Direct Connect Locations refer to physical data centers or co-location facilities where AWS has established a presence to allow customers to connect their on-premises networks directly to AWS. These locations serve as points of presence for AWS Direct Connect, enabling customers to establish dedicated network connections for more reliable and consistent connectivity. 

Significance of AWS Direct Connect Locations: 

1. Proximity to On-Premises Data Centers: 

Direct Connect Locations are strategically positioned to allow customers to connect their on-premises data centers to the AWS Cloud with minimal latency. Choosing a location close to your physical infrastructure can reduce network latency and improve overall performance. 

2. Redundancy and High Availability: 

AWS has multiple Direct Connect Locations across different regions and cities. Utilising connections from multiple locations provides redundancy and high availability. If one location experiences issues, traffic can be redirected to another location to ensure continuity of service. 

3. Access to AWS Services and Regions: 

The choice of Direct Connect Location may impact access to specific AWS services and regions. Some locations may have direct connections to specific AWS regions, influencing the network path and latency to those regions. Consider the geographic distribution of your workloads and the availability of services in different regions. 

4. Connectivity to Partner Networks: 

Direct Connect Locations also serve as points of connectivity for Direct Connect partners. Choosing a location that aligns with the presence of your preferred Direct Connect partner can be important, especially if you are using a hosted connection through a partner.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Location: 

1. Geographic Proximity: 

Select a Direct Connect Location that is geographically close to your on-premises data center to minimise network latency. Lower latency contributes to better performance for applications sensitive to delays. 

2. Service Availability: 

Consider the availability of AWS services and regions through the chosen Direct Connect Location. Some locations may have more direct connectivity options to specific AWS regions, affecting the overall network path. 

3. Redundancy and High Availability: 

Evaluate the redundancy options available at the chosen location. Utilising multiple Direct Connect Locations and redundant connections can enhance high availability and ensure business continuity.  

4. Direct Connect Partners: 

If using hosted connections through a Direct Connect partner, check the availability of your preferred partner at the selected location. Ensure compatibility with your network and business requirements. Orixcom can connect to any AWS Data Center globally, allowing you the flexibility to connect your network wherever your operations are.  

Impact on Latency and Performance: 

  • The geographical distance between your on-premises data center and the Direct Connect Location has a direct impact on latency. Shorter distances generally result in lower latency, contributing to better network performance. 
  • The number of network hops and the quality of the network infrastructure between your location and the chosen Direct Connect Location can also influence latency. Choosing a location with a well-established and reliable network infrastructure is crucial. 
  • Redundant connections and diverse network paths can mitigate the impact of outages or issues in a specific location, providing a more robust and resilient network architecture. 


AWS VIF (Virtual Interface) 

An AWS Virtual Interface (VIF) is a logical representation of a network connection over AWS Direct Connect. It allows customers to establish private and dedicated connections between their on-premises networks and their Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) or other AWS services. Virtual Interfaces are associated with the physical Direct Connect connection and provide a means to extend the customer's network into the AWS Cloud securely. 

Types of AWS Virtual Interfaces: 

1. Private Virtual Interface (VIF): 

  • Purpose: Connects on-premises networks to Amazon VPCs securely. 
  • Traffic Isolation: Ensures traffic remains within the AWS network, enhancing security. 
  • Use Case: Ideal for establishing private communication between on-premises infrastructure and AWS VPCs. 

2. Public Virtual Interface (VIF): 

  • Purpose: Connects on-premises networks to public AWS services (e.g., S3, DynamoDB) without traversing the public internet. 
  • Traffic Path: Traffic over Public VIF remains private, enhancing security. 
  • Use Case: Enables dedicated access to public AWS services with a secure and isolated connection. 

3. Transit Virtual Interface (VIF):

  • Purpose: Facilitates hub-and-spoke connectivity through a Direct Connect Gateway. 
  • Topology: Connects multiple Amazon VPCs and on-premises networks in a hub-and-spoke model. 
  • Use Case: Transit VIF simplifies communication between various VPCs, allowing transitive routing without passing through on-premises networks. 

 Integration with Dedicated and Hosted Connections: 

1. Dedicated Connections: 

  • Customers can associate both Private and Public VIFs with Dedicated Connections. 
  • Transit VIF enhances connectivity by allowing hub-and-spoke communication between different VPCs and on-premises networks. 

2. Hosted Connections: 

  • Similar to Dedicated Connections, Hosted Connections can have Private and Public VIFs associated with them. 
  • Transit VIF extends its capabilities to Hosted Connections, providing a centralised hub for connecting to multiple VPCs and facilitating transitive routing. 

Key Benefits: 

  • Isolation: VIFs provide isolated and secure connections, ensuring privacy for both private and public traffic. 
  • Flexibility: The availability of different VIF types accommodates diverse connectivity requirements, including private communication, access to public services, and hub-and-spoke architectures. 
  • Optimised Routing: Transit VIF simplifies and optimises routing, allowing efficient communication between various VPCs without relying on on-premises networks. 

AWS Direct Connect Latency

AWS Direct Connect provides a dedicated network connection between on-premises data centers and AWS resources. Latency, the time delay between the initiation and completion of a data transmission, is an important factor to consider when using AWS Direct Connect. Latency can impact the performance of applications and the overall user experience. 

Factors Affecting Latency in AWS Direct Connect: 

1. Physical Distance: 

The geographical distance between the on-premises location and the AWS Direct Connect location plays a significant role. Shorter distances generally result in lower latency. 

2. Network Infrastructure: 

The quality and efficiency of the underlying network infrastructure, both on the customer's side and within AWS, can affect latency. A well-optimised and low-latency network infrastructure contributes to better overall performance. 

3. Direct Connect Location: 

The choice of the AWS Direct Connect location is crucial. Different Direct Connect locations may have varying network paths and connectivity options, impacting latency. Proximity to the chosen Direct Connect location can reduce latency. 

4. Number of Network Hops: 

The number of network hops, or intermediate points between the on-premises data center and AWS resources, can contribute to latency. Fewer network hops generally result in lower latency. 

5. Router Efficiency: 

The efficiency and configuration of routers on both ends of the connection, including the customer's on-premises router and the AWS Direct Connect router, can impact latency.

6. Connection Speed: 

The speed of the Direct Connect connection (e.g., 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps) can influence latency. Higher-speed connections generally provide lower latency. 

Latency Considerations for Dedicated Connections: 

  • Dedicated Connections offer a direct, physical link between the on-premises data center and AWS. They typically provide lower and more predictable latency compared to internet-based connections. 
  • The choice of Direct Connect location, the quality of the dedicated link, and the efficiency of the customer's network infrastructure all impact latency for Dedicated Connections. 

Latency Considerations for Hosted Connections: 

  • Hosted Connections, where a third-party Direct Connect partner manages the physical connection, introduce an additional layer in the connectivity path. 
  • Latency considerations for Hosted Connections include the efficiency of the Direct Connect partner's infrastructure, the geographic location of the partner, and the overall network path from the on-premises location to AWS. 
  • While Hosted Connections provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness, customers should assess the potential impact on latency introduced by the involvement of a third-party partner. 

Optimising Latency in AWS Direct Connect: 

  • Choose the Direct Connect location strategically based on the proximity to the on-premises location. 
  • Utilise redundant connections and diverse network paths to enhance resilience and reduce the impact of outages on latency. 
  • Implement best practices for network optimisation, including efficient routing configurations and proper management of routers on both ends. 
  • Regularly monitor and analyse latency metrics to identify potential issues and make adjustments as needed. 

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  1. Can I use both Dedicated and Hosted connections in the same AWS environment?
    Yes, you can use both Dedicated and Hosted connections in the same AWS environment. AWS Direct Connect supports a mix of connection types, providing flexibility to accommodate diverse network requirements. Dedicated Connections offer a direct, physical link between your on-premises data center and an AWS Direct Connect location, while Hosted Connections allow third-party Direct Connect partners to provision and manage the physical connectivity. This allows organisations to leverage the benefits of Dedicated Connections for dedicated, private links, and Hosted Connections for flexibility in connection speed and management through partnering with third-party providers. 
    Having a combination of Dedicated and Hosted connections enables organisations to design a resilient and scalable network architecture. This approach caters to varying performance needs and offers redundancy, allowing traffic to be distributed across different connections for increased availability and stability. It provides a versatile solution that aligns with specific use cases and evolving connectivity requirements within the AWS environment.

  2. What is the difference between AWS Direct Connect and Direct Connect Gateway?
    AWS Direct Connect and Direct Connect Gateway are both services designed to facilitate network connectivity between on-premises data centers and the AWS Cloud, but they serve distinct purposes.

    A. AWS Direct Connect:

    • Establishes dedicated, private, and high-bandwidth connections between on-premises locations and AWS.
    • Supports point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connections for secure and predictable connectivity.
    • Direct link, bypassing the public internet for enhanced security.

    B. Direct Connect Gateway:

    • Simplifies network connectivity for multiple Amazon VPCs and on-premises data centers.
    • Follows a hub-and-spoke model, acting as a central hub for VPC connections.
    • Enables direct traffic flow between connected VPCs without relying on on-premises networks.

  3. What are good use cases for using AWS Direct Connect?
    AWS Direct Connect is beneficial for a variety of use cases where organisations require a dedicated and reliable network connection between their on-premises data centers and the AWS Cloud.  

    Boubyan Takaful, an insurance company based in Kuwait wanted to connect to to their AWS applications hosted in the AWS Data Center in Bahrain. The complexity of managing two MPLS systems in two different countries plus the prohibitive cost made the project unworkable. Orixcom proposed AWS Direct Connect over SD-WAN which enabled Boubyan Takaful to have a fast, secure connection between their offices and the data center as well as providing all the benefits of SD-WAN.  

    A further key use case is in scenarios where high-performance workloads demand low-latency connections. This is particularly crucial for applications like real-time analytics, video streaming, or financial trading systems, where the consistent and predictable network performance provided by Direct Connect is essential. Read more customer stories here.

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