Amazon gives users direct connections to its cloud

Amazon Web Services (s amzn) today announced a trio of features designed to lure in enterprise users, including dedicated connections to its cloud data centers and a larger Virtual Private Cloud footprint. As AWS strives to bring in more enterprise business, it’s doing everything possible to make its services as flexible, reliable and secure as possible.

With its new Direct Connect feature, users can establish dedicated links from their network providers to Equinix’s International Business Exchange data centers, which connect directly to nearby AWS data centers. According to AWS Vice President Adam Selipsky, Direct Connect will help customers increase throughput, reduce latency and better guarantee the security of their packets as they cross the network.

Network latency can be an issue for cloud computing users, but throughput appears a more pressing concern for many. Moving large volumes of data to the cloud is such a slow process that AWS and other cloud providers even give users the option of just shipping them hard drives to be uploaded into the cloud locally. A dedicated 10 Gigabit connection to AWS should help change this scenario.

For businesses that already co-locate their servers with Equinix, Direct Connect is an even better situation. Their data is literally just traveling miles on a fast, secure pipe from the Equinix facility to the AWS data center.

Direct Connect is available today in AWS’s U.S. East region, where it connects to Equinix’s Ashburn, Va., facility. Selipsky said it will be available within the next few months in San Jose, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Singapore.

Aside from the cost of leasing a dedicated connection from network providers, Direct Connect costs $.30 per hour per 1 Gigabit port, and $2.25 per hour per 10 Gigabit port. Users will also have to pay AWS outbound bandwidth charges; inbound bandwidth to AWS has been free since last month.

AWS also rolled out two others features today: a more-expansive Virtual Private Cloud offering and enhanced Identity and Access Management controls. VPC is no longer in its beta phase, and is now accessible in all AWS regions and in multiple Availability Zones per region. Users can also port multiple VPN connections into their VPC environments instead of being limited to a single local connection point. Taken in total, Selipsky said, users will be able to create more resilient VPC deployments.

The new IAM capability is identity federation. Essentially, it lets businesses grant employees access to AWS resources by connecting into their existing corporate identity management systems. AWS rolled out its core IAM option in May, which lets account holders grant certain permissions to authorized users, but Selipsky said companies with identity management systems in place don’t want to go through that process again with AWS and have their employees log into a separate service.

The ugly side of AWS was exposed during its extended service outage in April, but the company has been trying hard to prove its worth to enterprises since. It’s not perfect by any means, and direct connections and virtual private cloud capabilities aren’t unheard of among so-called enterprise clouds, but it’s hard to see how AWS’s concerted effort won’t help it win over at least a few new corporate accounts.

Image courtesy of Flickr user 91RS.