Networking & Content Delivery

How Motional improved global network performance and lowered costs with AWS Direct Connect SiteLink

Motional — a joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai Motor Group — is developing and commercializing SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Level 4 autonomous vehicles (AVs) for autonomous ride-hail and delivery. Motional partners with major ride-hail companies, including Uber, Uber Eats, and Lyft to deploy its AVs on their networks. Motional operates vehicle garages in Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Singapore. These garages upload multiple Petabytes (PBs) of vehicle data weekly into AWS using AWS Direct Connect. Each garage is connected to multiple AWS Regions, with each AWS Region interconnected to the other AWS Regions using AWS Transit Gateway. Previously, Motional connected garages, data centers, and offices together using various WAN solutions. Motional modernized its inter-network communication using AWS Direct Connect SiteLink to reduce costs, simplify operational overhead, and improve performance.

Original architecture

Motional team members interconnect across sites to share data, run IT services, and link to in-garage virtual desktops to analyze driving data. As shown in Figure 1: Initial Motional Network Architecture, prior to migrating to SiteLink, Motional managed multiple WAN providers to make these connections.

Figure 1: Initial Motional Network Architecture

Figure 1: Initial Motional Network Architecture

This architecture led to higher costs, more operational overhead, unreliable performance, and unexpected downtime. With the original architecture, Motional had multiple network carriers that had to be stitched together, routing was complex and inefficient, there was no standardization of edge services, and network performance varied by location.

To address these concerns, Motional modernized its network using Direct Connect SiteLink. SiteLink enables direct communication between Direct Connect Points of Presence over the AWS global network backbone, using the shortest available path and without routing through AWS Regions.


The migration to SiteLink took six weeks, which included:

  • Two weeks for Immersion Days on SiteLink (AWS training and enablement) and architecture creation as shown in Figure 2: End State Motional SiteLink Network Architecture
  • Two weeks for Proof of Concept (PoC)
  • Two weeks for deployment, including the cut-over

Figure 2: End State Motional SiteLink Network Architecture

Figure 2: End State Motional SiteLink Network Architecture

After the PoC, Motional took the following steps to put SiteLink into production:

  1. Create a new Direct Connect Gateway (DXGW)
    • A DXGW is a highly available globally logical resource, distributed across all Direct Connect Points of Presence, which allows customer networks to become more resilient as more connections are added.
      • DXGWs allow Motional to connect to any AWS Region globally.
      • Motional created a centralized SiteLink DXGW to create separation and segmentation, allowing logical separation of AWS Region-bound and SiteLink traffic.
  2. Update current routes to use SiteLink DXGW
    • Motional added new routes to the on-premises networking infrastructure to route traffic between locations over SiteLink.
    • Then, Motional updated the local preference to prefer the SiteLink route over VPN, building an active/passive configuration.
    • Motional offices, data centers, and garages immediately started communicating over Direct Connect using SiteLink.
  3. Non-SiteLink DXGW Optimization
    • Motional consolidated their pre-existing DXGW-per-site architecture into a Regionally-based architecture, separating out SiteLink on its own. This created segmentation and simplified operations.

With SiteLink’s ease of use, Motional was able to architect, test, and migrate the site-to-site networking solution to SiteLink in six weeks. The simplicity of SiteLink has reduced Motional’s time to add new WAN locations from weeks or months to days. This was done by simply attaching a Direct Connect Virtual Interface of new Direct Connect connections to the SiteLink DXGW.

End result

As a result of moving to SiteLink, Motional reduced their WAN costs by ~94%, improved operations efficiency, increased uptime, and improved performance. In addition, the reduction in network complexity improved Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) by more than 10%.

Motional shortened the route path taken between sites, as they are directly connecting to the AWS backbone using Direct Connect. With SiteLink, Motional achieved a lower, more consistent latency between on-premises locations as shown in Figure 3: SiteLink vs. WAN Alternative Latency Comparison. The reduction in latency has improved end user experience and productivity.

Figure 3: SiteLink vs. WAN Alternative Latency Comparison

Figure 3: SiteLink vs. WAN Alternative Latency Comparison

Summer Craze Fowler, Senior VP of IT and Cybersecurity at Motional, described the project saying, “Adopting AWS Direct Connect SiteLink has improved our network performance, reduced our overall WAN costs, and lowered the operational overhead required to support our global network. This type of success is a great example of the Motional team delivering solutions that allow Motional to focus more time and resources on innovating and delivering our driverless solutions.”

About the Authors

Greg Thursam Headshot

Greg Thursam

Greg Thursam is a Principal Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Greg works with automotive autonomous vehicle customers to build and modernize solutions in the cloud. Prior to AWS, Greg was a Solutions Principal at an AWS consulting partner developing cloud and DevOps solutions, including go-to-market strategies for enterprise customers.

Michael Conway Headshot

Michael Conway

Michael Conway is a Senior Manager of Networking and Engineering at Motional. Mike has twenty years of IT experience and is one of the earliest contributors to Motional’s AWS networking architecture and design. He and his team are responsible for Motional’s cloud, production, and enterprise networking to drive optimization and reliability across all of Motional’s global network connectivity.

Josh Higham Headshot

Josh Higham

Josh Higham is a Principal IT Network Engineering at Motional. Josh has over twenty years of network experience supporting mission critical customer applications in both service provider and enterprise roles across the global. He has focused on creating secure and robust designs that minimize the financial and operational maintenance impact while providing highly redundant connectivity.

The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.