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Introduction to AWS Direct Connect

Introduction to AWS Direct Connect

In this article, you will learn:

Organizations building hybrid cloud solutions need to seamlessly connect their on-premises servers to the AWS Cloud. In some cases, you’ll need to establish a dedicated network connection from your on-premises infrastructure to AWS (Amazon Web Services) without using the public Internet. But why would you want to do that? Connections via the public Internet often entail significant costs with no guarantee of consistent network performance and high latency. This is where AWS Direct Connect fits in the picture: with this AWS service you can get a fast, secure and dedicated connection to AWS.

In this blog post, we will look deeper into what AWS Direct Connect is, its benefits, its locations, how it works, and how you can set it up.

What is AWS Direct Connect (AWS DX)

AWS Direct Connect is a high-speed, low-latency connection that allows you to access public and private AWS Cloud services from your local (on-premises) infrastructure. The connection is enabled via dedicated lines and bypasses the public Internet to help reduce network unpredictability and congestion.

This private connection between AWS and your data center, your office, or colocation center can in many cases reduce your network costs, increase bandwidth throughput, and provide a more consistent network experience than connecting via the public Internet.

There are two types of AWS Direct Connect connections:

  • Dedicated connections are physical connections between your network and an AWS network inside an AWS Direct Connect location. You request a dedicated connection through the AWS Direct Connect console.
  • Hosted connections are logical connections that an AWS Direct Connect Delivery Partner provisions on your behalf. When using hosted connections, you connect to the AWS network using one of the partner’s ports.

AWS Direct Connect bandwidth and features

  • AWS Direct Connect connects your network to an AWS Direct Connect location over a standard 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps Ethernet fiber-optic cable.
  • Speeds of 50mbps, 100mbps, 200mbps, 300mbps, 400mbps, and 500mbps can be requested from any APN partners supporting AWS Direct Connect.
  • AWS Direct Connect makes virtual interfaces (VIFs) to the AWS Cloud, bypassing Internet providers in the network path.

How does AWS Direct Connect work?

To understand how AWS Direct Connect works, it’s best to go through the example architecture.


AWS Cloud

We have an AWS region with AWS services, which can be composed of several AWS services like Amazon S3 buckets, Amazon EC2 instances, DynamoDB tables, etc.

AWS Direct Connect location

This is where an AWS Direct Connect endpoint is in the AWS cage and all of the networking routers and connectivity capabilities lie. This can be a single physical location, or it can be a partner location.

There is also your router or partner’s router that will be cross-connected to the AWS Direct Connect endpoint.

Corporate data center

You as a customer have your on-premises location with servers that you want to connect to AWS and your router that you need to set up to connect into the AWS Direct Connect location.

Once you've established an AWS Direct Connect connection, you can either connect to the AWS public zone like public services such as Amazon S3, or you can connect into services that are hosted within a secured VPC like EC2 instances, DynamoDB, or RDS. This is done by using AWS Direct Connect virtual interfaces (VIFs).


You must create one to begin using your AWS Direct Connect connection:

  • Private virtual interface (Private VIF): This should be used to access an Amazon VPC using private IP addresses.
  • Public virtual interface (Public VIF): This should be used to access all AWS public services using public IP addresses.
  • Transit virtual interface (Transit VIF): This should be used to connect multiple VPCs in the same or different AWS account.

AWS Direct Connect benefits

Reliable network performance

Improve application performance by connecting directly to AWS and bypassing the public Internet. Compared to the public Internet, which may be quite inconsistent, AWS Direct Connect provides more consistent network performance.

Reduce data transfer costs

One of the most important advantages of using AWS Direct Connect is related to cost. With Direct Connect, the cost of network access from local to Amazon services such as S3 or EC2 is lower, and the public Internet is completely avoided. All data sent through AWS Direct Connect is charged at the lower AWS Direct Connect data transfer rate, not the Internet data transfer rate.

Elastic bandwidth

AWS DX connection can be easily scaled to meet the needs by either using a higher bandwidth connection or by establishing multiple connections.

Increased security

Secure your data as it moves between your network and AWS with multiple encryption options.

AWS Direct Connect use cases

AWS Direct Connect is useful for those who have high throughput workloads, so if you've got high volumes of network traffic between on-premises infrastructure and AWS Cloud, you probably do need to use AWS Direct Connect. It's also useful if you need a stable, reliable, and secure connection.

  • Build a hybrid cloud: Link your AWS and on-premises networks with a dedicated connection to the AWS Cloud and build a robust, economical, and reliable connection.
  • Power real-time applications: Bypass the Internet entirely and provide a more consistent low-latency network experience for applications with video and other real-time performance needs.
  • Manage large data sets: Ensure smooth and reliable data transfers at a massive scale between your infrastructure and AWS for real-time analysis, rapid data backup, or media processing.

Thinking about cloud migration? Working with our experienced team at StormIT, migrations to AWS are accomplished quickly and securely without undue business interruption.

Learn more

AWS Direct Connect locations

AWS Direct Connect is available at over 100 locations worldwide to ensure you can make connections close to where you need them. A complete list of AWS Direct Connect locations is available on the AWS DX Locations page. When using AWS DX, you can connect to VPCs deployed in any AWS Region and Availability Zone.


A best practice is to choose the location closest to your on-premises infrastructure to minimize cost and to ensure the lowest latency.

If you do not have equipment at an AWS Direct Connect location, you can set up AWS Direct Connect with the assistance of a member of the AWS Partner Network.

StormIT, an AWS Consulting Partner, can help you establish a network connection between an AWS Direct Connect location and your data center. Let us know if you need any help.

AWS Direct Connect pricing

AWS DX is billed based on port hours, data transfer out (DTO) and network capacity.

Port hours and network capacity

For dedicated connection from AWS, the current pricing for port hours is $0.30 per hour with 1 Gbps bandwidth or $2.25 per hour with 10 Gbps bandwidth.

Pricing is only different in Japan, where the current pricing for port hours is $0.285/hour per hour with 1 Gbps bandwidth or $2.142 per hour with 10 Gbps bandwidth.

For hosted connections from AWS APN partners, the pricing is more complicated, because you can order bandwidth with a capacity from 50 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Pricing is available in the table below.

AWS Direct Connect pricing

Data transfer in/out

DTO (data transfer out) pricing is dependent on the AWS Region in which your infrastructure resides and the AWS Direct Connect location used. Data transfer in (DTI) to the AWS is $0.00 per gigabyte at all Direct Connect locations.

You can find the DTO pricing for every location on the AWS official page: AWS Direct Connect pricing.

How to set up AWS Direct Connect

Set-up depends on the location of the AWS infrastructure and the location of your on-premises infrastructure. First, it is necessary to decide on an AWS Direct Connect location, how many connections you would like to use, and the port size (bandwidth capacity). Then you can go through the AWS getting started guide.

Is AWS Direct Connect a VPN?

No, it is not. VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be set up over the public Internet or AWS Direct Connect dedicated network. VPN is quick and easy to set up and it’s a great connectivity option for businesses that are just getting started with AWS. VPN can be used over the AWS Direct Connect connection to archive stable, fast and reliable connections from your network to AWS infrastructure.

Some AWS customers would like the benefits of AWS Direct Connect connections for their primary connectivity to AWS, coupled with a lower-cost backup. To achieve this, they can establish AWS Direct Connect connections with a VPN backup.

Learn more about the differences and benefits of AWS Site-to-Site VPN and AWS Direct Connect in our blog post AWS Direct Connect vs. VPN


Some businesses have existing data centers they are not ready to retire yet and those customers want to be able to use existing data centers alongside AWS infrastructure. That’s when AWS Direct Connect is used to archive a high-speed, low-latency connection that allows you to access public and private AWS Cloud services.

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