The cloud continues to play a critical role in our everyday lives. Our customers range from classrooms and small businesses to critical life and safety services and Fortune 500 companies. Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure—the largest in the world—is the backbone for many of these experiences which have been essential to connecting people, businesses, and governments and running mission-critical applications. We believe that a trusted cloud is one that is secure, reliable, and supports regulatory compliance. We continue to build Azure to support customer needs for low-latency, high-availability cloud services and with the ability to both store and process data within a country or geography.
In 2020, Microsoft announced development of new Azure datacenter regions that will bring local low-latency, data-resident cloud solutions to 14 new countries and expanding global availability. Already in 2021, we’ve continued our plans to expand our datacenter regions to new markets like Indonesia and grow in existing markets in the United States and China. As we continue to bring local cloud services to more countries, we are doing so with resilience and high availability in mind.
- By end of 2021, every country in which we operate a datacenter region will deliver Azure Availability Zones (AZs).
- Every new datacenter region we launch going forward will include Azure Availability Zones.
- Over the last 12 months we have enabled Availability Zones in five datacenter regions, and this week we launched Availability Zones in Brazil South.
- We are continuing to expand zonal capabilities, and in 2021, all foundational and mainstream Azure services will be AZ enabled.
- We recently launched the Azure Well-Architected Framework—a set of guiding tenets that can be used to improve the quality and resilience of a workload.
Bringing Availability Zones to every country we operate in by end of 2021
By end of the 2021, every country in which we operate a datacenter region will include at least one region with Azure Availability Zones architecture. Additionally, every new datacenter region we launch going forward will have AZs. A datacenter region is made up of multiple datacenter facilities with redundant power, cooling, and networking—customers leverage this infrastructure to ensure their applications and services are resilient and performant through Azure Availability Zones. AZs, comprising of a minimum of three zones, allow customers to spread their infrastructure and applications across discrete and dispersed datacenters for added resiliency and high availability. We’re doing this to ensure that every Azure customer has access to highly resilient services to support their most important workloads and processes.
Over the last 12 months, we have enabled AZs in five datacenter regions, and this week we launched Availability Zones in Brazil South. Our approach in designing our Microsoft datacenter regions using Availability Zones is to support synchronous replication, while ensuring physical separation to offer protection and isolation from localized failures, which can range from mechanical or electrical issues, structure fires or flooding, or any unforeseen disaster. We ensure the customer impact of using Availability Zones is minimal to none with a latency perimeter of less than two milliseconds between Availability Zones. And we encrypt all data that is traversing within or between regions to ensure the use of Availability Zones conforms to the highest security standards. As part of our design process, we utilize more than 30 viability and risk-based criteria to evaluate the placement of each of the three Availability Zones. This process identifies both significant individual risk, as well as considering collective and shared risk between AZs. This careful approach ensures Azure always delivers both a secure and resilient environment.
Zonal capabilities for all mainstream Azure services
AZs are a combination of physical and logical infrastructure and many of our core Azure services provide the necessary support for deploying, building and operating highly available applications. AZs are an important resilient architecture for our customers and Microsoft’s own internal workloads. Azure services deploy into AZs, providing customers the assurance that applications and processes using Azure services include all the additional resiliency benefits regardless of their choice to use AZs for their own applications.
We are continuing to expand zonal capabilities, and in 2021, all foundational and mainstream Azure services will be AZ enabled. AZ enabled services are designed to provide the right level of flexibility and can be configured to be either zone-redundant (with automatic replication across zones), zonal (where instances can be pinned to a specific zone), or both.
Expanding customer options for business continuity and reliability
Capabilities like AZs are critical to customers requiring highly available applications to keep critical infrastructure running and available. Customers like National Australia Bank (NAB) will run 1,000 applications on Azure. NAB will co-design, develop, and invest in new cloud-based payments and customer services that take advantage of the resilience capabilities in Azure Availability Zones as part of their five-year strategic partnership with Microsoft.
“Trust and resilience are critical for the financial services industry to meet both the regulatory requirements of APRA and customer expectations. The investment that Microsoft continues to make in its Azure Availability Zones gives us, our customers and regulators peace of mind that systems will be available, and data will be protected.”—Steve Day, Executive General Manager Infrastructure, Cloud and Workplace, NAB
Azure offers a wide variety of options to support customers in architecting for resiliency, providing customers with the flexibility to choose between data-resident, distance-separated disaster recovery across regions, in-zone, and server and rack redundancy. For local and zonal disaster recovery (DR), Azure Site Recovery makes it possible to replicate and orchestrate the failover of applications in Azure within Azure Availability Zones.
We recently launched the Azure Well-Architected Framework—a set of guiding tenets that can be used to improve the quality of a workload. Reliability is one of the five pillars of architectural excellence alongside cost optimization, operational excellence, performance efficiency, and security. If you already have a workload running in Azure and would like to assess your alignment to best practices in one or more of these areas, try the Azure Well-Architected review.
We continue to hear from customers the importance of having a resiliency strategy. We have designed Availability Zones with customer feedback and input and invite customers to learn more about Azure Availability Zones and visit products available by region to learn more about new capabilities coming to your region.