AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure
The AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure is the most secure, extensive, and reliable cloud platform, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Whether you need to deploy your application workloads across the globe in a single click, or you want to build and deploy specific applications closer to your end-users with single-digit millisecond latency, AWS provides you the cloud infrastructure where and when you need it.
We know that AWS is a public cloud service provider and provides on-demand availability of all kinds of cloud services from across the world. How can AWS provide on-demand availability of all types of cloud services from across the globe? Well, AWS has a massive amount of computing resources and storage available in data centers spread across all over the world. The AWS entire infrastructure setup of data centers across all over the globe is called AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure. In this post, we will learn about AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure and its related concepts, such as AWS Availability Zones, AWS Regions, AWS Local Zones, AWS Wavelength Zones, AWS Edge Locations, and AWS Outposts.
Table of Contents
AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure is the backbone of AWS. The AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure is the most secure, extensive, and reliable cloud platform, offering over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. It not only allows you to deploy your application across the globe with a single click, but it also allows you to build and deploy specific applications closer to your end-users with single-digit millisecond latency. It helps millions of active customers from virtually every industry build and run every imaginable use case on AWS.
This was a high-level overview of AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure. Next, we will look into AWS Regions and AWS Availability Zones, which are other important concepts related to AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure.
AWS has the concept of a Region, a physical location worldwide where AWS has clusters of data centers. AWS region is a physical location that has clusters of data centers. As you can see in the picture above, the AWS Region has 3 three clusters of data centers. And these clusters of data centers are connected. Each AWS region is a separate geographical region. Each AWS region is completely independent, having its own internal private secured network, and is isolated from the other AWS regions.
AWS Regions on the Management Console
AWS region is displayed at the top right on the AWS Management Console. When you logged in to your AWS account, you will be assigned a default region. That way when you launch any AWS service, it will be served from that AWS region. Each AWS region is assigned a region code, which is used in various configuration when using AWS services and resources. For example, US East (N. Virginia) AWS Region has a region code us-east-1. If a particular service you are looking for is not available in your default AWS region, you can change it.
Let’s try to understand AWS regions by looking at the AWS Global Infrastructure Map. On the AWS Global Infrastructure map above, AWS regions are represented with circles. The blue circle ones are the current AWS regions, and AWS Regions in red circles are coming soon.
As you can see, AWS has regions all over the world. As of this writing, AWS has 25 geographic regions around the world. Seven more AWS Regions in Australia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are coming soon. With regards to AWS regions in USA, there are 6 AWS regions in USA. Two AWS regions are on the US east coast: one is in Northern Virginia, and the other is in Ohio. Two AWS regions are on the US West Coast: one is in Oregon, and the other one is in Northern California. Additionally, there are 2 Gov cloud regions: one is on US East Coast, and other is on US West Coast. Some regions have more services than others. For example. US East (N. Virginia), US West (N. California) in America; Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo in Asia Pacific; Frankfurt, Ireland in EU offer more services in general.
AWS services are region specific. However, just to keep in mind, there are some services that do not support any region. For example, AWS IAM is a global service and is not associated with any region.
How to Select an AWS Region
Following are the guidelines for choosing AWS regions to help ensure excellent performance and resilience:
• To get low latency performance, choose a region closest to your location, and your customers’ location to get low network latency.
• Find out what are your most needed services. Usually, the new services start on a few main regions such as regions on us-east and us-west before being available to other regions.
• Some regions will cost more than others, so use built-in AWS calculator to do rough cost estimates to get idea about your choices.
• SLAs usually vary by region, so be sure to be aware of what your needs are and if they’re being met.
• You may need to meet regulatory compliance such as GDPR by hosting your deployment in a specific region or regions to be compliant.
AWS Availability Zones
Another essential concept in AWS is AWS Availability Zone. It is also called AZ, in short. As I mentioned earlier, AWS has clusters of data centers on multiple locations worldwide, and a location containing clusters of data centers is called AWS Region. On the other hand, an individual discrete cluster of the data center is called AWS Availability Zone. Another way to way to understand is: An availability zone (AZ) is one or more discrete data centers with redundant power, networking, and connectivity in an AWS region.
Let’s simplify AWS Regions and AWS Availability Zones concepts.
Let’s simplify a bit. In an AWS region, there are clusters of data centers spread across the location. An individual discrete cluster of data center or a discrete data center is called AWS Availability Zone.AWS availability zones within a region have connectivity with one another. To strengthen the concept further, I would like to share this point:
A common misconception is that a single zone equals a single data center. Each zone is backed by one or more physical data centers, with the largest backed by five. While a single availability zone can span multiple data centers, no two zones share a data center. (https://www.rackspace.com/blog/aws-101-regions-availability-zones)
More Details About AWS Availability Zones
Now you got a conceptual understanding of AWS Availability Zones. Let’s go through some more details. Availability zones are separated in an AWS region. Availability zones are located away from the city and are in lower-risk flood areas to avoid the flood or any other kind of damage to the data centers. AZs are physically separated by a significant distance, many kilometers, from any other AZ.
An availability zone (AZ) is one or more discrete data centers with redundant power, networking, and connectivity in an AWS Region. All AZs in an AWS Region are interconnected with high-bandwidth and low-latency networking between AZs.
Each availability zone has its power supply and on-site backup generator. Furthermore, they are connected via different grids from independent utilities to avoid a single point of failure for any power outage.
Availability zones have code as well, like AWS regions. Availability zone code has region code + a letter added in the end. For instance, The US Ohio AWS region has region code us-east-2. And this AWS region has three availability zones with their code as us-east-2a, us-east-2b, and us-east-2c. If you notice, a letter has been added at the end of the region code (us-east-2+a = us-east-2a) to get the AZ code.
Availability Zones from Architectural Perspective
Let’s understand Availability Zones from the solution architecture perspective. Redundancy and replication are architectural techniques to increase the high availability and fault tolerance of software applications.
To provide redundancy, AWS allows replication of resources and data in multiple availability zones, which helps avoid data loss and offers high availability for the deployed applications. All traffic between AZs is encrypted. Furthermore, you can perform synchronous replication between AZs. However, replications across AWS regions don’t happen unless organizations explicitly would like to do perform. The reason is AWS regions are separate, and they are not connected with the AWS private network, unlike AWS availability zones that are connected.
AWS Local Zones
Another concept related to AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure is AWS Local Zones. As per the AWS Local Zones documentation (https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/global-infrastructure/localzones/):
AWS Local Zones are a type of AWS infrastructure deployment that places AWS compute, storage, database, and other select services close to large population, industry, and IT centers. With AWS Local Zones, you can easily run applications that need single-digit millisecond latency closer to end-users in a specific geography. AWS Local Zones are ideal for use cases such as media & entertainment content creation, real-time gaming, live video streaming, and machine learning inference.
AWS Local Zones are infrastructure deployment that places compute, storage, database, and other select AWS services close to a large population and industrial centers. Thus, AWS Local Zones help deliver innovative applications requiring low latency closer to end-users and on-premises installations. Using AWS Local Zones, you could also leverage cloud services for edge computing with on-demand scaling, high availability, and pay-as-you-go pricing.
AWS Local Zones provide a high-bandwidth, secure connection to the AWS Region and allow you to seamlessly connect to the full range of services in the AWS Region.
Various AWS services such as Amazon EC2, Amazon VPC, Amazon EBS, Amazon RDS, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, and Amazon ElastiCache are available locally in the AWS Local Zones. In addition, you can also use AWS services that orchestrate or work with local services such as Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling, Amazon EKS clusters, Amazon ECS clusters, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, and AWS CloudFormation.
AWS Wavelength Zones
The other one is AWS Wavelength, an AWS infrastructure offering optimized for mobile edge computing applications. As per the AWS Wavelength Zones documentation (https://aws.amazon.com/wavelength/)
AWS Wavelength is an AWS Infrastructure offering optimized for mobile edge computing applications. Wavelength Zones are AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within communications service providers (CSP) data centers at the edge of the 5G network, so application traffic from 5G devices can reach application servers running in Wavelength Zones without leaving the telecommunications network. This avoids the latency that would result from application traffic having to traverse multiple hops across the Internet to reach their destination, enabling customers to take full advantage of the latency and bandwidth benefits offered by modern 5G networks.
AWS Wavelength extends the AWS cloud to a global network of 5G edge. AWS Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services within 5G networks, thus providing mobile edge computing infrastructure for developing, deploying, and scaling ultra-low-latency applications. It enables developers to accelerate innovative 5G edge application development and build a whole new class of applications that require ultra-low latency by Leveraging proven AWS infrastructure and services.
Wavelength Zones provide a high-bandwidth, secure connection to the parent AWS Region. As a result, Wavelength Zones enable developers to also seamlessly connect to the full range of services in the AWS Region.
AWS Edge Locations
An AWS Edge location is a site that CloudFront service uses to cache copies of the content to reduce latency for faster delivery to users at any location. AWS Edge Locations are AWS data centers that are located in such a way to deliver services quick response with the lowest latency possible. They are often in major cities to provide the lowest latency response to city users. Edge Locations data centers are nearer than data centers in AZ a Region. Amazon has many of these types of data centers working as Edge Locations across the world. If you have global users for your web applications, it is not cost-effective and not always feasible to deploy your applications and replicate the infrastructure on different servers in many locations worldwide to overcome latency issues for your users.
A CDN, such as AWS CloudFront, allows you to utilize Edge Locations to deliver a cached copy of web content to your customers. To reduce response time, the CDN utilizes the nearest Edge Location to the customer or originating request location to reduce the latency.
AWS Outposts is a family of fully managed services providing a hybrid experience. It delivers AWS infrastructure and services to virtually any on-premises or edge location. AWS Outposts allows you to extend and run native AWS services on-premises. With AWS Outposts, you can run not only run AWS services locally but also can connect to the local AWS Region to access a broad range of available services.
You can run applications and workloads on-premises using familiar AWS services, tools, and APIs. AWS Outposts support workloads and devices requiring low latency access to on-premises systems. For example, workloads running on factory floors for automated operations in manufacturing, real-time patient diagnosis, medical imaging, or content and media streaming. You can use Outposts to securely store and process customer data that must remain on-premises or in countries with no AWS region. You can run data-intensive workloads on Outposts and process data locally when transmitting data to the cloud is expensive.
SK Singh is the founder, a software, cloud, and data engineer. He has been involved in the software industry for around 25 years. He has a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from India and a master's degree in software engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. SK has been involved in a wide range of software projects for many governments, private, start-ups, and large public companies in various software engineering roles. He has many professional certifications such as AWS, Hadoop, Kafka, Oracle, Unix, Java, Java-related frameworks, and many others related.