What is cloud networking?

Cloud networking is the use of cloud-based services to deploy a corporate network that connects an organization's employees, resources, and applications. Traditionally, organizations used their own private network hardware components to create an isolated wide area network (WAN) for secure communication and application deployment. Setting up and managing the network was expensive and complicated. Cloud networking solves these challenges by allowing your organization to use virtual network components instead. A third-party cloud service provider manages and maintains networking hardware and infrastructure. This way, your organization’s network administrators can focus on efficiency and optimize configuration.

Read about wide area networks (WAN) »

What are benefits of cloud networking?

Cloud networking can improve efficiency, scalability, and security for your organization.

Efficient network management

Custom networking solutions with third-party telecommunications providers come with a high cost and significant resource overheads. You have to purchase new networking equipment and communicate with the third party for network changes, updates, or new satellite business sites.

With cloud networking, your organization's administrators can work within cloud platforms, in software, to define new network solutions or change existing solutions. Network management becomes more streamlined and cost-efficient.

Increased scalability

Scalability helps your organization prepare for many possible future outcomes. You can be more agile in deployment and decommission of IT services. Traditionally, bringing on new business sites required strategic network configuration and investment in physical infrastructure. Scaling was expensive and slow.

With a cloud network, it’s possible to roll out a new site with a custom network configuration in hours instead of days or weeks. You can create direct, secure connections to organizational resources and sites in just a few steps. Similarly, you can bring sites offline and decommission networks just as quickly and easily. 

Easier security

Virtual cloud network solutions have been created specifically for organizations to build their own secure networks with software. Due to economies of scale, cloud providers can use cutting-edge infrastructure and highly secure physical network components. To enhance security further, you can use cloud networking security tooling and follow best practices in network configurations.

Improved monitoring and maintenance

While many physical networking solutions are managed and maintained by telecommunications companies, others require in-house physical management. Cloud-based networking removes the need for physical management and maintenance altogether. It gives your organization full visibility into traffic data across their networks, accessible through a range of network management software tools. 

How does cloud networking work?

Traditionally, a business would rent a server in a nearby data center. The business would purchase direct network links to it from office sites through a local telecommunications provider. Today, cloud networking configurations use cloud-based virtual servers in the region. And they connect to office sites by using a cloud-based virtual private network and gateway.

Cloud networking is virtual network components, topologies, and configurations that run on a cloud provider’s physical networking infrastructure. You define and manage your networks as software. You can create your own virtual local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) with cloud resources.


Cloud networking services are possible because of virtualization. Through software logic, you can define network components such as virtual routers, virtual firewalls, virtual load balancers, and even full network layouts. This virtualization means that the only limits to the possibilities of cloud networking are the capacity and capabilities of the underlying physical infrastructure.

For instance, a cloud service provider can multiplex a network cable with a large capacity. And they can create several different virtual private network links operating on it and share the capacity. Providers define the logically isolated virtual links in software and offer different capacities in different service packages. The links may also have different capacities at different times for off-peak savings.

Virtual private clouds

Combining other cloud resources with a cloud network is known as a virtual private cloud (VPC). With a VPC, you can define a virtual private cloud network and run cloud network resources within its bounds. You have internet-based remote access through a virtual private network and a software-defined gateway. A virtual private cloud is logically isolated from the public cloud. You can think of a VPC as your own virtual data center.

For instance, your organization can establish a subnet in a particular Amazon Web Services (AWS) Region and Availability Zone. You can add Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and other cloud services to it. You can also add another subnet with EC2 instances in a different Availability Zone, with network traffic shared between the two.

Hybrid cloud networking

Within cloud networking, not all networking components and resources need to be cloud-based. For example, cloud networking configurations can connect to on-premises data centers and site branches through traditional networking infrastructure and the public internet. 

What's the difference between cloud networking and cloud computing?

Cloud networking is just one cloud infrastructure component that's available as a service from a cloud computing provider.

Cloud computing traditionally offers users access to a range of rented, virtualized IT infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and networking. A cloud provider owns and runs the underlying physical resources. These resources are offered as a service to customers through software-based network management. The physical infrastructure itself is distributed across the world through virtualization. This means that multiple customers can run logically isolated private infrastructure on the same underlying physical hardware.

Cloud computing has now expanded beyond hardware-based infrastructure services to other products—such as tools, platforms, and serverless computing.

How can AWS support your cloud networking requirements?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud networking solutions help ensure your organization stays connected to the cloud, no matter where your sites and resources are. For example, you can use these solutions:

  • AWS App Mesh to provide application-level networking for all your services, with virtual routers for traffic handling.
  • AWS PrivateLink to privately connect virtual private clouds, supported AWS services, and your on-premises networks. With PrivateLink, you won't expose your traffic to the public internet.
  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to define and launch AWS resources in a logically isolated virtual network that you fully control for resource placement, connectivity, and security.
  • AWS Transit Gateway to simplify networks. You can connect Amazon VPC resources, AWS accounts, and on-premises networks to a single gateway.
  • Amazon VPC Lattice to consistently connect, monitor, and secure communications between your services, without adding networking complexity.

Get started with cloud networking on AWS by creating an account today.

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