What Is a VPC? A Beginner's Guide to AWS VPCs

CareerFoundry blog contributor Alex Williams

There are so many reasons to use cloud computing, from streamlining processes and reducing costs to reducing risk and increasing data security. 

Amazon Web Services offers a variety of tools that make it easy to integrate on-premises resources with cloud resources. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (or AWS VPC) is one of them.

In the case of VPCs within AWS, there are several choices. You can build your own VPC from scratch, or use one of the AWS-provided VPCs. 

These VPCs are set to operate with particular subnets, gateways, and route tables that can aid you in setting up and managing your AWS environment. This subject isn’t easy to grasp, so we’ve put together a complete AWS guide to help you understand more about the platform itself.

If you’re already familiar with a topic, feel free to skip ahead by using the clickable menu:

  1. What is a VPC?
  2. How does an AWS VPC work?
  3. What are the benefits of using an AWS VPC?
  4. How do I create an AWS VPC?
  5. How to learn cloud computing with AWS
  6. Final thoughts

Ready? Then let’s begin!

1. What is a VPC?

A VPC or virtual private cloud, is a secure private cloud hosted remotely by a public cloud provider. 

VPC customers can execute programs, create websites, save data, and perform other activities like they would in a home-based private cloud.

VPC is a mix of cloud computing that is both a private and a public cloud. This permits the scalability and ease of public cloud computing while at the same time providing data security, which is typical of private clouds.

Imagine a public cloud as a restaurant with many people and a private cloud as reserved tables at that particular restaurant. Although the restaurant is crowded with patrons, a “reserved” sign on the table means that it will only be used by the individual who booked the table.

Similarly, although cloud users often use computing resources that are on an open cloud and are chaotic, VPCs can reserve certain resources for one user only.

2. How does an AWS VPC work?

An Amazon VPC is a virtual network exclusively committed to your AWS account. 

Your VPC is separated from other virtual networks in the AWS cloud. You may also launch AWS resources, such as EC2 instances, in your virtual private cloud, and protect your applications from local problems by launching instances in multiple availability zones.

Just like with AWS S3, there are a lot of options for security. You can also modify the IP address selection of your VPC and select your personal subnet configuration, create route tables, and then configure gateways for your network.

What is VPC peering?

The VPC peering connection is linked between two VPCs, allowing you to send traffic between them by using privately-owned IPv4 addresses or IPv6 addresses. The VPCs can “talk” to one another as if they were part of an identical network. 

You could set up a VPC that peers with your VPCs or use a VPC within another AWS account. The VPCs can be found anyplace (also called an inter-regional VPC peering link).

What is a VPC subnet?

The subnetwork of a VPC is the range of IP addresses that are part of it. 

AWS resources can be assigned to a particular subnetwork. Use a public subnet for resources that require access to the internet and a private subnet for non-internet-connected assets.

To protect the AWS resources of every subnet, you can use a variety of security measures, like security groups and network access control lists (ACL).

Two cloud engineers sit in an office with a laptop discussing AWS VPCs.

3. What are the benefits of using an AWS VPC?

Adopting a VPC in AWS has many benefits. The following are just a few of them:

Reduced downtime and inconvenience

Customers expect 100% availability and are unwilling to endure even minor outages. 

VPC environments are designed to meet close to 100% uptime standards, which is done by including redundancy and other options.

Your client’s customers will have a higher level of trust in your business when they know it has almost 100% accessibility!

Reduced risk of data breaches

Many news reports have appeared recently detailing how prominent companies have had their clients’ data stolen. 

Most of the time, these incidents could have been avoided by using VPCs. A VPC offers an additional layer of protection for your information because it’s not connected to the internet, and is only accessed by authorized individuals.

Flexibility

VPCs can adapt to the growth of the business or changes in business operations without limitation. 

Cloud infrastructure resources are set up regularly, making it easy to alter the VPC to meet the changing needs.

Cost-effective

Companies with a business plan see 30% faster growth than those without it, and a part of any plan is projecting expenses. 

Private clouds can help keep your costs in check as you only have to pay for the services you use. You won’t have to purchase software or hardware upgrades, and you won’t have to pay for maintenance if you use a VPC.

4. How do I create an AWS VPC?

Most users prefer to use the AWS Management Console to create a VPC. Here’s how to set up your VPC step-by-step:

  1. Open the Amazon VPC console.
  2. Choose the VPC Wizard from the drop-down menu on the VPC Dashboard.
  3. In Step 1, choose the VPC Configuration —> Single Public Subnet, then choose select.
  4. Fill in the blanks as directed by the wizard and select “build VPC”:
    • IP CIDR block: 10.0.0.0/16
    • VPC name: ADS VPC
    • Public subnet: 10.0.0.0/24
    • Availability Zone: No Preference
    • Subnet name: ADS Subnet 1
    • Enable DNS hostnames: Leave the default selection
    • Hardware tenancy: Default

It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour for the VPC to be established.

5. How to learn cloud computing with AWS

Cloud computing provides a strategy with ubiquitous, easy internet access on demand to a collection of customizable computing resources (e.g., servers, network storage, applications, and other services).

CareerFoundry’s Cloud Computing for developers course is a great way to start getting to grips with not just the AWS platform, but cloud computing in general.

Starting with cloud fundamentals, you’ll gain hands-on practical experience with the AWS VPC as well as other widely-used tools such as EC2, Lambda, S3, and Identity and Access Management (IAM), as well as AWS security best practices.

Offering developers a basic to intermediate level of deploying web applications on AWS cloud services, this mentored course can be taken by itself, or as part of the Full-Stack Development Program.

You can also learn about cloud computing by taking online classes on platforms such as edX and Coursera, or participating in online or in-person training sessions offered through Amazon Web Services themselves. 

For those who want to start using AWS, we recommend you join their free tier.

6. Final thoughts

As you can see, an AWS VPC has many advantages, such as enhanced security, better performance, and a lower chance of data breaches. In addition, VPCs are flexible and cost-effective. 

It’s no surprise then, that as a web developer or cloud engineer this is a key bit of technology to get to grips with.

Unsure how to get started? Check out the AWS Management Console to get help with the creation of your VPC.

If you’d like to start from scratch with your programming journey, try out our free coding short course and start building your first website.

If you’d like to learn more about the world of web development, check out these articles:

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