Companies continue to shift their networking services to the cloud, either hosted publicly or in a hybrid fashion, including virtual route tables, firewalls and gateways, management software, load balancers, static and dynamic IP addresses, subnetworks and VLANs.

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and Azure Virtual Network (VNet) are two of the most popular cloud networking services. Each largely serves the same purpose, but there are some differences. Below, we will compare Amazon VPC vs. Azure VNet.

Amazon VPC has a simple purpose to allow customers to provision AWS resources in a defined virtual network. AWS provides the infrastructure, and the customer configures functionality as desired. Amazon asserts that users have complete control over their networking. With the VPC, users can perform the following tasks, choose IP addresses and their ranges, create subnets, configure route tables and gateways, isolate back-end systems on a private subnet, make web-connected systems available to users via public networks,  and establish VPNs and institute fine-grained security practices. VPC lets you set up a network access control list, which acts as a firewall and filter for network traffic. Finally, Amazon VPC emphasizes observability — both actively and retroactively. With VPC Flow Logs, ops teams have visibility into traffic allocation, network activity, data sharing and compliance, as well as highlights into suspicious events.

Amazon VPC fits squarely within the AWS ecosystem. The service integrates with AWS Lambda, Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2. This enables customers to execute functional, serverless code, store data remotely, making it only available to certain VPC instances or tools, connect networking resources with instances, to access scalable cloud-computing capacity.

AWS Transit Gateway forges a unified connection between VPCs, AWS accounts and on-premises networks. Similarly, AWS Private Link creates a secure pathway between active AWS services and VPCs.

Azure VNet connects Azure VMs and computing resources with one another, as well as on-premises networks and the internet. While Azure VNets share foundational infrastructure, they remain isolated from one another by default. Azure Networking uses virtual extensible LANs to securely link virtual networks, while remaining scalable in the process. A VNet peering connection lets these virtual networks communicate using IPv4 or IPv6. Data can flow back and forth as necessary, according to the organization’s configurations. Microsoft also acknowledges the role IPv6 plays to support IoT device communication. Service instances can dually connect with clients using both protocols.

With VNet, admins can enable, communication of Azure resources with the internet, communication between Azure resources, communication with on-premises resources, filtering of network traffic, routing of network traffic, and integration with Azure services.

Like Amazon VPC, Azure VNet employs routing tables to dictate how traffic flows from resources. Dubbed User-Defined Routing (UDR), Azure runs a default configuration that welcomes customization. These user routes often take precedence over default routes. With Azure VPN Gateway, UDR can also control traffic between virtual networks and others.

Azure VNets can host a litany of native Azure services, much like Amazon VPC. These virtual networks connect with Azure App Service Environments, Azure Kubernetes Service or Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets. Since it deals with data, VNet interfaces directly with current Azure Storage accounts and Azure SQL Database. It is easy to privately store and safeguard VNet information.

Azure VNet also lets you create two types of VPNs. The first, point-to-site VPN, creates a connection between a virtual network and one computer on another network. Microsoft views this as more of a plug-and-play setup since little configuration is required to get started. Secondly, site-to-site VPNs connect a VNet-deployed, Azure VPN Gateway with an on-premises VPN device. These connections rely on explicit authorization. They also use encrypted tunneling. Finally, network security groups contain two-way security rules, enforced according to IP address, port, firewall, source and destination. You can additionally provision a VM as a firewall — or for something like WAN optimization.

In terms of which is better, it largely depends on use case. VNet seems more enterprise focused, whereas Amazon VPC is ideal for more customer-facing resources — per AWS’ use cases. When you make the choice between Amazon VPC and Azure VNet, consider the following, what will your networks control, what services are you focusing on, are you already familiar with one technology stack over the other? Ultimately, the decision will depend on which service’s subtleties are most useful for your organization’s needs.

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