AWS Regions vs. AWS Availability Zones: What’s the Difference?
May 16, 2023
The term “cloud computing” is a bit of a misnomer because there are still physical data centers involved. They are just managed remotely by a third party. However, that doesn’t mean cloud computing is on the same playing field as on-prem infrastructure or traditional hosting. Today’s leading cloud service providers (CSPs) – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and GCP – offer tremendous advantages, including unlimited scalability, pay-as-you-go-pricing, high availability, and more.
But getting started with a new CSP can take some adjusting. Each company has different ways of organizing and labeling infrastructure, which can be confusing to new cloud adopters. As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner, we highly recommend the AWS cloud and believe it’s easy to get started on the platform once you’re familiar with key concepts. Altogether, AWS provides services to 245 countries across its immense and proven global footprint.
In this blog post, we’ll cover an important topic within the category of AWS cloud infrastructure – AWS Regions vs. AWS Availability Zones. Understanding this is crucial for getting started on the right foot with AWS and making the right decisions for your mission-critical workloads.
What are AWS Regions?
AWS Regions are large geographical areas that contain clusters of physical data centers. These data centers are maintained, protected, and monitored by AWS personnel. Six AWS Regions service the entire United States, and, at the time of writing, AWS has 31 Regions across the globe with 5 new Regions in the pipeline.
The purpose of AWS Regions is to provide cost-effective, low-latency network connectivity. AWS users typically choose AWS Regions that are located close to customers to keep latency down. Should the need arise, switching between AWS Regions is simple through the AWS Management Console. As organizations grow, engineering teams may need to choose new AWS Regions to realign with consumer demand or reduce costs. AWS Regions offer different pricing due to differences in land costs, utilities costs, and tax obligations.
An important characteristic of AWS Regions is that they are isolated from one another so that a failure in one Region does not ripple out and affect others. Furthermore, AWS does not automatically replicate resources between AWS Regions. This is done by design to maximize fault tolerance and cloud computing stability. Engineering teams, however, can replicate resources across multiple AWS Regions if it suits their disaster recovery needs or service requirements.
AWS Local Zones are extensions of AWS Regions that enable users to get even more granular with their geographic choices. AWS Local Zones are not intended to contribute to workload redundancy. Instead, they help with improving latency by putting data centers even closer to discrete locations and making it easier for teams to adhere to strict compliance standards.
Within every AWS Region are multiple self-isolating AWS Availability Zones, which we’ll cover next.
What are AWS Availability Zones?
AWS Availability Zones are standalone data centers within AWS Regions. One AWS Region can have multiple Availability Zones, but an Availability Zone can only belong to one AWS Region. At the time of writing, AWS offers 99 Availability Zones and is planning to add 15 more soon.
AWS Availability Zones give organizations region-specific redundancy and resilience. Because Availability Zones sit in isolation from one another, a failure in one Availability Zone stays contained. This is similar to how a failure in one AWS Region does not spread outside of that Region.
So, should an organization experience a power outage or another disruption in one Availability Zone, the engineering team could switch to a second backup Availability Zone in the same Region and continue operating as normal. On AWS, setting up automatic failovers and backups is both easy and necessary.
Upgrade AWS Cloud Performance with ClearScale and AWS
Between all of AWS’ Regions and Availability Zones, companies have what they need to ensure IT resilience, scalability, and security. However, not everyone has the knowledge or capacity to take full advantage. As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner, ClearScale knows the ins and outs of the AWS Cloud. That includes how to set up the ideal infrastructure for any use case.
We can help you fulfill your disaster recovery goals, build advanced SIEM systems, optimize service delivery for your most important applications, and much more. Our engineers have earned over 100+ AWS technical certifications and 11 AWS Competencies, demonstrating our ability to deliver real-world solutions that create tangible value.
Schedule a call with one of our AWS cloud experts today to get started.