Introducing mLab Private Environments

Today we are excited to announce the private beta of mLab Private Environments. mLab Private Environments are virtual private networks you can provision to house your various database deployments hosted with mLab. These private networks isolate your database from public networks while allowing your application infrastructure secure access to your database deployments.

With Private Environments, you can continue to use the mLab platform for dynamic database provisioning and scaling while leveraging security features that are traditionally only found in private networks.

mLab Private Environments overview

When you provision a Private Environment with mLab (currently only available on AWS) we provision a dedicated AWS VPC for that environment. You can place any number of mLab MongoDB deployments inside of that Private Environment.

You can then peer the VPC underlying your Private Environment to the AWS VPC that houses your application infrastructure. This peering operation will create a single, extended, private network consisting of both your application infrastructure and your database deployments.

mlab-private-environments

From there, you can very conveniently and scalably design network ACLs and routing rules to only allow access to your database deployment from the parts of your application infrastructure that need it.

You can provision and maintain any number of Private Environments.

Benefits of using Private Environments

The move to the public cloud has been a huge win in terms of simplicity, but also a big step backwards from a networking perspective. In order to move to the public cloud, organizations had to abandon the more sophisticated networking techniques they used to employ when working in traditional data centers.

Recently, however, public cloud providers have been reintroducing some of the networking functionality that has been missing. For example, AWS VPC (Virtual Private Clouds) allow you to create virtual private networks with subnets, route tables, and network ACLs, just like you would have in a traditional datacenter, only virtualized.

Upon this infrastructure (AWS VPC) we have implemented a new deployment solution that allows you to:

  • Isolate your database from public networks while allowing secure access to your application infrastructure.
  • Create sophisticated network topologies to ensure least privilege access to your database deployments using CIDR ranges and Security Groups.
  • Easily auto-scale your application tier without having to modify database firewall rules.

How are Private Environments used?

With Private Environments, you can use all of the traditional network security best practices and techniques for designing your application. You can place your front-end load balancers in a public subnet, and place your application servers, microservices, and databases in private subnets protected from the internet, but accessible to each other.

Furthermore, if your application tier has an auto-scaling component that accesses the database, Private Environments are extremely convenient. Before Private Environments, it was impossible to add application servers to your app tier without adding new allow rules to your database firewall. This made autoscaling VMs that required access to your database deployment extremely difficult, requiring either a NAT layer or opening your database to more sources than necessary.

With Private Environments, you simply allow the proper CIDR block for the subnet holding your application VMs, or the AWS Security Group you wish to give access to (Security Groups coming soon). You can then add and remove app infrastructure without needing to touch the definition of your database deployment’s firewall.

Availability

Private Environments is currently in private beta and only available with our Dedicated plans. If you would like to join the waitlist, please email our team at support@mlab.com.

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