Amazon’s Data Centers

Wikileaks put out a big expose on Amazon Data centers that gave me a huge “no duh, derplock” moment.

Here is the map that Wikileaks put together:


Obviously that looks like a highly disperse array of data centers. But it is also highly ordered, and highly ordered based on something that has been public knowledge for a very long time.

All of those Amazon Data centers are located near internet exchange points where terrestrial fiber lines (not shown) go international with undersea fiber lines.

Rather than show you a map of all the US fiber optics (which is seriously crowded) I’ll show you just the US internet exchange points to give you an idea.

So it is obvious that Amazon put its data centers where they are proximal to undersea fiber optic access points and internet exchanges. Even with the large geographic distances, this gives each data center a minimal hop count between each other on very big bandwidth fiber links, and this allows Amazon to provide excellent cloud services and infrastructure to clients. This is no big deal, and anyone in the internet business would say “seriously, this is a no duh thing.”

What I haven’t done here is show you which networks are connected at which exchanges, but that really doesn’t matter from the business logic perspective. However, if you wanted to see something interesting, you could overlay the known intelligence agency locations with internet exchange points, and then identify which networks used those IXPs, you could probably see the logic behind why some locations were chosen over others:  Once you do that, it becomes very easy to see which locations would be useful for international spying, and which would be useful for domestic spying (here’s a hint, on the map provided by the Intercept, only Chicago and Dallas strike me as of questionable value for international spying, but that’s just my gut reaction without serious in depth analysis and both locations are in states that are very proximal to Canada or Mexico).

Hopefully this has been a fun and informative read.

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