November 27, 2023

Dynamically Assigning EC2 Network without Network Profile

Dynamically Assigning EC2 Network without Network Profile: A Flexible Solution for Enhanced Security and Efficiency


The network configuration of EC2 instances plays a crucial role in ensuring security and optimizing performance in cloud environments. While AWS Network Profiles offer a simplified approach to managing network settings, they have certain limitations that can hinder diverse deployment scenarios. By leveraging custom resources and the AWS SDK, users gain greater flexibility, granular control, and scalability in managing network access for their EC2 instances.


Understanding the Challenge


AWS Network Profiles, while convenient for network configurations, have limitations that restrict their versatility in diverse deployment scenarios. Enterprises often require more precise control over network access and isolation to meet specific security requirements. For instance, certain instances may need to communicate with only a subset of other instances or services, while others must remain completely isolated. Unfortunately, Network Profiles lack the flexibility to accommodate such nuanced configurations.


Furthermore, managing multiple Network Profiles across different deployments becomes increasingly burdensome as infrastructure scales. Enterprises face challenges in tracking and coordinating associated Network Profiles, leading to potential inefficiencies, misconfigurations, and security vulnerabilities.


In various scenarios, custom script execution is essential on EC2 instances, and there are two main approaches. The first approach involves executing scripts over the network using SSH, PowerShell, or CMD. However, this requires opening ports and configuring security groups. Each Amazon Machine Image (AMI) must be configured to accept script execution requests during provisioning or AMI creation, resembling the VRAY on-premises setup without Guest Script Manager.


Alternatively, an AWS Systems Manager (SSM) approach can eliminate the need to open ports. During provisioning, the SSM agent is installed on instances, and an IAM role enables communication through SSM. With SSM, AWS PowerShell or shell scripts can be executed against instances. In our deployment, we attach pre-configured IAM roles, ensure SSM agent installation in AMIs, and provide instances with a public IP or SSM endpoint for AWS communication.


The Solution


To overcome the limitations posed by Network Profiles and achieve granular control over network access and isolation, enterprises can adopt a custom resource-based approach with the AWS SDK and custom scripts. By leveraging these tools, users can programmatically create, manage, and delete security groups tailored to each deployment. This dynamic assignment of network configurations ensures optimized security and performance.


To execute scripts securely using this approach, AWS Systems Manager (SSM) and the Bolt Three Python module within VRA workflows are utilized. Within VRA workflows, an action is created, taking the instance ID and script command as inputs. This action determines the script type (Windows or Linux) and executes the command on the instance. The output of the command execution is then returned. This approach provides a secure way to run custom scripts without opening any ports, relying solely on the SSM agent for communication, similar to using on-premises VM tools.


Furthermore, TeraSky integration enhances control and visibility in managing resources. TeraSky streamlines resource management and automates deployment workflows, simplifying the incorporation of custom resources and scripts into infrastructure management processes. This integration ensures a cohesive and streamlined approach to network configuration management, allowing efficient orchestration of security group creation and management alongside other infrastructure components.


By combining the custom resource-based approach, TeraSky’s management capabilities, and the use of SSM with VRA workflows, enterprises achieve a robust and scalable network configuration solution. They gain the flexibility to define and manage security group rules at the individual instance level, aligning security policies precisely with each deployment. Additionally, they can securely execute scripts and perform customization actions on instances during deployment and day-to-day operations.


Benefits and Considerations


By adopting this custom resource-based approach, users gain several benefits. Firstly, they have increased flexibility to customize each deployment’s network access and isolation rules. This ensures that security requirements are met without compromising operational efficiency.


Furthermore, the solution offers enhanced security through granular security controls. By specifying specific ingress and egress rules, users can tightly manage network traffic and reduce the attack surface.


Additionally, the solution provides scalability by automating the creation and management of security groups. As deployments grow in scale, the custom resources and scripts can handle the increased demand, ensuring efficient network assignment.


It is vital to consider AWS limits and compliance/governance requirements when implementing this solution. Users should be mindful of any constraints imposed by AWS on security group rules, as well as adhere to organizational compliance policies.


Enhancing EC2 Network Configurations with Custom Resources and TeraSky


Dynamically assigning network configurations to EC2 instances without relying solely on Network Profiles offers significant advantages. By leveraging custom resources, the AWS SDK, and custom scripts, users can achieve greater flexibility, security, and scalability.


Integrating TeraSky further enhances the solution by providing robust infrastructure management capabilities. With this approach, organizations can optimize network access and isolation, bolster their security posture, and streamline their deployment workflows. By embracing this dynamic network assignment solution, enterprises can ensure their EC2 instances are both secure and performant.


Written by: Zach Benassayag, Cloud Automation Senior Engineer



If you still have questions, or would like to learn more about AWS EC2 and VMware VRA ,our experts are here to help.

Amazon Machine Image (AMI)
AWS Systems Manager (SSM)

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