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Amazon's "Virtual Private Cloud" enters unlimited beta

Private service designed to enhance security of cloud computing

­Amazon's "Virtual Private Cloud," a cloud computing offering that is more secure than the company's previous services, is now available to the general public in an open beta trial.

Amazon unveiled the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) in August but made it available only to a portion of its customer base. Starting this week, any customer of the Amazon EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud service can access the VPC as well.

The phrase private cloud typically refers to a cloud-like network installed entirely within a customer's own data center. Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud, by contrast, is hosted entirely on Amazon servers, but uses a VPN to let customers connect securely to those hosted resources.

"Amazon VPC enables enterprises to connect their existing infrastructure to a set of isolated AWS compute resources via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, and to extend their existing management capabilities such as security services, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to include their AWS resources," Amazon said.

With the Virtual Private Cloud, Amazon seems to be targeting customers who haven't used cloud computing services because of security concerns, as well as existing customers who aren't willing to put more sensitive applications into the cloud.

VPC has some interesting attributes, such as isolated network access, which Amazon describes as follows:

"Amazon VPC provides end-to-end network isolation by utilizing an IP address range that you specify, and routing all network traffic between VPC and your datacenter through an industry-standard encrypted IPsec VPN. This allows you to leverage your preexisting security infrastructure, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems to inspect network traffic going to and from a VPC."

More information, and pricing, can be found at Amazon's VPC site.

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