Cloud Computing Infrastructure - Network

Neal Davis
6 min readApr 29, 2024

Networking is the cornerstone of IT infrastructure, enabling communication between devices across the internet and within cloud environments. As cloud computing continues to redefine traditional IT landscapes, a deep understanding of networking fundamentals and their application in AWS is essential.

This expanded guide delves into the intricate world of networking, offering a detailed look at essential concepts before exploring AWS’s robust network services including Amazon VPC.

IP Addressing and Subnetting

IPv4 and IPv6 represent two generations of Internet Protocols, each designed to assign unique addresses to devices on the internet. Their development reflects the evolving needs of the internet infrastructure, especially in terms of addressing capacity and network complexity. Let’s delve deeper into each protocol, highlighting their differences, advantages, and implications for the future of networking.

IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4)

  • Introduction: IPv4 was established as the standard internet protocol in 1981, designed to provide a unique identifier for each device connected to the network. It uses a 32-bit address scheme, which has been the backbone of the internet for decades.
  • Addressing: The 32-bit addressing provides approximately 4.3 billion unique addresses. While this number seemed sufficient in the early days of the internet, the explosive growth of connected devices has led to the exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses. IPv4 addresses are typically shown as four decimal numbers separated by dots (e.g.,
  • Features: IPv4 supports manual and automatic address configuration (DHCP), and it includes features like packet fragmentation and checksums to ensure data integrity. However, IPv4 lacks sufficient capabilities to meet the growing demands for security and scalability in modern internet usage.

IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6)

  • Introduction: Developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to address the limitations of IPv4, IPv6 was standardized in 1998. It implements a 128-bit address space, significantly expanding the number of available addresses.
  • Addressing: IPv6’s 128-bit addressing allows for 3.4×10³⁸ unique addresses, an almost limitless number that can accommodate the continued growth of the internet. IPv6 addresses are represented by eight groups of four hexadecimal digits (e.g., 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334), although there are methods to abbreviate this notation.
  • Features: Beyond its vast address space, IPv6 includes several improvements over IPv4. These enhancements include simplified header format for more efficient processing, built-in support for multicast and anycast communications, and improved security features at the protocol level through IPsec. IPv6 also supports stateless address autoconfiguration (SLAAC), allowing devices to automatically generate their own addresses.


Subnetting is a technique used to divide a larger network into smaller, manageable pieces known as subnets. This division is achieved by extending the default network mask, effectively borrowing bits from the host portion of the address to create additional network addresses.

Each subnet operates independently, with its own range of IP addresses and broadcast domain, which increases network efficiency and security. By subdividing a network, administrators can better control traffic flow, restrict access between subnets, and minimize broadcast traffic, leading to improved overall network performance.

The process of subnetting involves calculating the subnet mask, which is crucial for determining the network and host portions of an IP address. For example, in an IPv4 address, a default subnet mask of indicates that the first three octets identify the network segment, while the last octet represents individual hosts within that network.

Subnetting allows for a more granular allocation of IP addresses, catering to varying needs of small and large networks without wasting address space. It’s especially useful in organizational settings where departments or groups require distinct network segments for security, data management, or to support specific applications or services.

Routing and Gateways Unpacked

Routers are pivotal in directing traffic between different networks, analyzing the destination IP address of incoming packets and determining the best path for them. They can connect multiple networks, manage traffic between them, and even perform network address translation (NAT) for private IP spaces.

Gateways act as the protocol converters, facilitating communication between networks that use different protocols. In AWS, the Internet Gateway allows the internet to communicate with your VPC, serving as a bridge for data exchange between AWS and the global internet.

OSI Model: Layer-by-Layer Analysis

  • Physical Layer: Governs the physical equipment such as cables, switches, and more, handling bit-level transmission between devices.
  • Data Link Layer: Manages connections between devices on the same network, providing error detection and framing.
  • Network Layer: Facilitates data transfer between different networks and handles packet routing via logical addressing (IP).
  • Transport Layer: Ensures complete data transfer with TCP/UDP protocols, managing data segmentation, and error correction.
  • Session Layer: Controls the dialogs (connections) between computers, managing session initiation, maintenance, and termination.
  • Presentation Layer: Transforms data into a format the application layer can accept, handling encryption, decryption, and data compression.
  • Application Layer: Enables end-user processes to interact with network services, providing user interfaces and application services.

Network Virtualization: The Future Now

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) offers an agile networking framework that enables programmatic management, control, and optimization of network resources. It decouples the network control and forwarding functions, allowing administrators to manage network services through abstraction layers.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) uses standard IT virtualization technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect or chain together to create communication services. NFV replaces traditional hardware-centric network appliances with software solutions running on commoditized hardware.

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Explained

Amazon VPC offers a virtual network dedicated to your AWS account, a logical isolation that enables launching AWS resources within a defined virtual network. It’s a foundational component for managing cloud resources securely and efficiently.

  • Subnets: Subnets allow you to partition your VPC into distinct networks, enabling precise control over IP address ranges, resource placement, and access controls. AWS supports both IPv4 and IPv6 addressing for your resources.
  • Route Tables: Route tables contain a set of rules, called routes, determining where network traffic from your subnets or gateways is directed. Effective route table management is crucial for defining public and private subnets within a VPC.

Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) Beyond Basics

Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) on AWS automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon EC2 instances, containers, and IP addresses, across one or more Availability Zones.

ELB ensures that the client requests are served by the healthiest server, enhancing the fault tolerance of your applications. AWS offer four types of load balancers that cater to different use cases:

Application Load Balancer (ALB)

Optimized for HTTP and HTTPS traffic, ALBs operate at the application layer (Layer 7) of the OSI model. They’re best suited for handling advanced traffic routing to web applications, allowing for content-based routing, host-based routing, and protocol forwarding. ALBs are ideal for microservices and container-based architectures, offering features like SSL/TLS termination, sticky sessions, and support for WebSocket.

Network Load Balancer (NLB)

Operating at the transport layer (Layer 4), NLBs are designed for high-performance, ultra-low latency TCP, UDP, and TLS traffic. NLBs are capable of handling millions of requests per second while maintaining consistent performance, making them suitable for load balancing both internet-facing and internal network traffic. They’re particularly beneficial in scenarios where extreme efficiency and throughput are required.

Classic Load Balancer (CLB)

As the first generation of AWS load balancers, CLBs provide basic load balancing across multiple Amazon EC2 instances. Operating at both the request level and connection level, CLBs offer flexibility by distributing traffic based on application or network level information. While still supported, AWS recommends using ALBs or NLBs for new applications due to their enhanced capabilities.

Gateway Load Balancer (GLB)

Introduced to simplify the deployment, scaling, and management of third-party virtual appliances, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and deep packet inspection systems, within AWS.

Operating at Layer 3 (Network Layer), GLB acts as a transparent gateway to route all incoming traffic to these appliances for inspection and filtering before the traffic reaches the application servers. It’s designed to provide high availability and scalability for these appliances, making it easier to deploy them in a scalable and secure manner.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the complexities of networking and effectively leveraging AWS network services are pivotal for deploying resilient, secure, and scalable cloud infrastructure. This guide provides a pathway from foundational networking concepts to advanced AWS services, empowering you to architect and manage sophisticated network solutions in the cloud.

By embracing these detailed insights into networking and AWS services, you’re well-equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities of cloud computing, ensuring your infrastructure is optimized for performance, security, and scalability.



Neal Davis

Founder of Digital Cloud Training, IT instructor and Cloud Solutions Architect with 20+ year of IT industry experience. Passionate about empowering his students