Having an understanding of AWS Regions and Availability Zones can be important for businesses with a global presence, for business with concerns about redundancy or regulatory compliance, and for businesses located in AWS Regions where the full selection of services is not yet available.
Amazon Web Services operates hundreds of data centers all over the world. The data centers are allocated into AWS Regions according to their geographical location; and, within each region, there are multiple “Availability Zones”. Availability Zones are clusters of data centers that are isolated from other clusters of data centers to reduce the likelihood of multiple Availability Zones failing simultaneously.
The way the infrastructure is set up allows businesses to deploy assets in the Regions closest to their operations and/or customers. This has the benefit of providing a faster service to end users. However, because AWS Regions and Availability Zones are isolated from each other, there are certain limitations to how the system can be used if you want to deploy assets in multiple AWS Regions.
There could be various reasons why you want or need to deploy assets in multiple AWS Regions depending on the nature of your business. You may have large customer databases in separate areas of the world, your business may not be able to recover from a Region-wide failure, or you may have to maintain customer data in a specific location in order to comply with regulatory requirements.
It may also be the case that a Region you are already using doesn´t support a service that could be beneficial to your business. For example, the only Region currently supporting the AWS DeepLens service is Northern Virginia. If you have deployed your existing assets in any other Region, you will have to use multiple AWS Regions in order to take advantage of the new technology.
An issue with deploying assets in multiple AWS Regions is that each Region has its own set of resources (Security Groups, SSH Keys, Images, Elastic IPs, EBS Volumes/Snapshots, etc.). This means you have to create duplicates of any resources you need in a second or subsequent Region before you can deploy assets in the second or subsequent Region—which then complicates cloud management.
The same issue doesn’t exist with AWS Availability Zones because data is replicated between Zones and you can use the same resources to launch assets across different Zones within the same Region. This doesn’t mean you will avoid a Region-wide disaster scenario, but it does mean you can distribute assets across Zones in the same Region; so, if one Zone fails, an asset in another Zone will take over.
Managing assets deployed in the cloud is complicated enough, but when assets are deployed in multiple Regions the complexity can be multiplied due to a lack of total visibility. AWS provides tools to help manage assets deployed in multiple Regions; but, since AWS replaced legacy Resource Groups with “region-exclusive” Resource Groups, you need a comprehensive knowledge of CloudFormation Stacksets - and some pretty accurate configuration skills—in order to monitor your assets accurately.
A far better solution is the CloudHealth cloud management platform from VMware. CloudHealth collects data from every source—including other clouds—to provide total visibility across your on-premises and cloud IT infrastructures. With total visibility, you have the information you need to optimize assets for cost, performance, and security. You also have the opportunity to define governance policies for ongoing automated management, thus saving your business both time and money.
Deploying assets in different AWS Regions to improve the end user experience, to address concerns about redundancy or regulatory compliance, and to take advantage of new technologies can result in substantial benefits. It can even help you reduce costs if you deploy assets in cheaper Regions. The price you pay is the increased complexity of asset management; but with CloudHealth, the complexity is eliminated—giving you more time to focus on other business-critical issues.
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