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AWS launches Cloud WAN to manage global networks

AWS Cloud WAN, which creates a centralized dashboard to manage globally distributed on-premises and cloud-based networks, is available in preview mode.

Amazon Web Services has launched a preview version of AWS Cloud WAN, a managed wide area network service targeted towards globally dispersed enterprises.

AWS Cloud WAN provides a central dashboard that organizations can use to network on-premises branch offices, data centers and AWS cloud resources to simplify and unify the building, monitoring and management of a worldwide network. AWS introduced the product this week at its re:Invent customer and partner conference.

The service automates network management and security using simple, centrally configured network policies that IT departments can apply broadly. AWS said the features drive down both the cost and complexity of running a WAN on a global scale.

AWS already offers Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) and Transit Gateways to network cloud resources together, and AWS Direct Connect connects the cloud to the data center. However, customers have historically managed the connectivity between on-premises resources themselves.

Cloud WAN can manage all those connections -- cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-site and site-to-site -- from a single dashboard. Unlike Transit Gateways, which are limited to VPCs and VPNs within the same region, Cloud WAN is region-agnostic and can connect networks anywhere in the world.

Intended use cases for AWS Cloud WAN include customers building VPCs across multiple regions and customers looking to extend their SD-WAN policies to AWS workloads.

Cisco and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, have announced that their software-defined WANs will support and integrate with AWS Cloud WAN. The integration will let enterprises use their existing Aruba and Cisco SD-WAN devices to route traffic over AWS Cloud WAN while separating other WAN traffic.

"As more enterprise applications migrate to the public cloud, it makes sense for enterprises to use global public cloud networks to improve application performance, enhance network agility and flexibility, boost operational efficiency through consolidation of management, potentially lower costs and bolster security," said IDC analyst Brad Casemore.

AWS is a newcomer in the cloud WAN market, where it will compete with vendors like VMware and Zenlayer. However, analysts said AWS' hyperscale size, existing global cloud architecture and historic customer relationships would likely make its offering competitive.

AWS Cloud WAN is currently available in preview mode in 10 locations: northern Virginia; northern California; Cape Town, South Africa; Mumbai, India; Frankfurt, Germany; Sydney; São Paulo; Tokyo; Singapore; and Ireland. AWS has announced plans to extend the service to additional areas as it exits preview mode, although it has not laid out a timeline for that transition.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Science, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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