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Azure to Alibaba S2S VPN


Businesses today are becoming more multi-cloud than ever. When it comes to Sitecore deployments, being able to have fast page response times in China is becoming more critical. My goal is to create a secure site-to-site vpn tunnel between Azure and Alibaba. Once the tunnel is setup, I can then test out remote publishing target deployments.

Starting off on the Azure side, you need to create a vnet with a non-overlapping address range to what our other cloud provider network will be using.

VNET

Once the vnet has been created, you create a new Gateway Subnet. Now that a Gateway Subnet has been defined, create a Virtual Network Gateway in Azure. Make sure to select route-based as the VPN type.

GatewaySubnet

While the Azure VPN Gateway is provisioning, log into the Alibaba Cloud dashboard. At this point, you want to mimic the steps from Azure but within Alibaba Cloud. Create a VPC and a Vswitch, and do not overlap the IP address range used in Azure.

VPC

Next, create a VPN Gateway and select the VPC that you previously created.

VPNGateway

Within the Azure portal, create a Local Network Gateway. Take the public IP address from the Alibaba VPN Gateway and type it into the IP address text box in Azure. Specify the Alibaba VPC CIDR address space in the Address space text box. Click Create to provision the resource

LocalGateway

Within the Alibaba portal, create a Customer Gateway. This is similar to a Local Network Gateway in Azure. Type in the public IP address from Azure’s VPN Gateway into the IP Address text box.

CustomerGateway

The next step is to configure the connections to both gateways. In Alibaba, select Create an IPSec Connection and choose the VPC and VPN Gateway. Type in the IP CIDR of your Alibaba local network in Local Network and then type in the IP CIDR of your Azure Network in Remote Network. Select Yes for Effective Immediately choice.

config1

Enable the Advanced Configuration option to list the Ike configurations. Generate a 16 bit, pre-shared key and type it into the Pre-Shared Key text box. Make the following selections:

  • Ikev2 for Version
  • aes256 for Encryption Algorithm
  • 28800 for SA Life Cycle (Seconds).

Under the IPsec Connections label, select aes256 and 28800 for SA Life Cycle (Seconds).

config2 config3

In the Azure Portal, navigate to your Local Network gateway connection object. Select Connections from the blade and then select Add. Give your connection a name, select your VPN Gateway, and type in your pre-shared key that you used in Alibaba IKE Configuration.

localConnection

The final step is to add a route entry into your Alibaba VPC Route Table. Within your VPC, edit the route table and add a new entry. Type in the remote network CIDR block, set the Next Hop Type to VPN Gateway, and select your VPN Gateway.

route

At this point, you have a route-based site-to-site VPN configured between Azure and Alibaba Cloud. I stood up a SQL Server and front-end Sitecore content-delivery node. Then I configured a remote publishing target. Benchmarking from US to China for a remote publish was not favorable due to random timeouts. Looking at the Sitecore publishing service, I deployed an Azure webapp and configured publishing for that route. Publishing was instantly faster and had no timeouts.

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Jimmy Rudley

“Jimmy Rudley is an Azure Architect at Rackspace and an active member of the Azure community. He focuses on solving large and complex architecture and automation problems within Azure."

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