Blog

AWS Availability Zones: Architecture and Considerations for Planning Your Deployment

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an extensive, reliable and secure global cloud infrastructure. Its architecture can help you scale your business and reduce costs by offering many services and deployment models with highly flexible pricing schemes and feature list so you can choose how much you pay based on which services you use. While these features are incredibly useful, they doo not guarantee your workloads will automatically benefit from AWS high availability. This requires knowledge and expertise on your part.

To get the most of the AWS high availability architecture and reduce costs even further, you need to get familiar with AWS Regions and Availability Zones. This article covers what you need to know about regions and availability zones, so you can make an informed decision and enjoy the best price and experience.

In this article, you will learn:

What is an Availability Zone?

Availability zones are highly available data centers within each AWS region. A region represents a separate geographic area. Each availability zone has independent power, cooling and networking. When an entire availability zone goes down, AWS is able to failover workloads to one of the other zones in the same region, a capability known as “Multi-AZ” redundancy.

AWS RegionsImage Source: Amazon Web Services

Each AWS region is isolated and operates independently from other regions but the availability zones within each region are connected via low-latency links to provide replication and fault tolerance. If you host all your data and instances in a single availability zone, which is affected by a failure, they would not be available

The purpose of this isolation is to serve workloads with high data sovereignty and compliance requirements that do not permit user data to pass outside of a specific geographic region. These types of workloads benefit from the structure of the AWS availability zones with low-latency and complete separation from other regions.

See a full list of available regions within the AWS global infrastructure.

Parameters to Consider When Choosing an AWS Region

Some parameters are key to consider before choosing an AWS region and AZ to host and deploy your application in order to get the best results.

The following list provides the most important parameters to take into consideration:

Parameter #1: Latency and proximity—opt for the closest region for low latency.

Fast connection to the server ensures better performance in terms of quick loading and transfer times which results in overall better user experience. You can achieve this by choosing an AWS region that is closest to the majority customer base. The shorter the distance between the cloud and the end user, the lower the latency. For example, if most of your customers access your application within the North American region, choosing an availability zone within the regions of the US or Canada will generate the best results.

Parameter #2: Cost—pick a region that offers the best price-performance ratio.

Prices of AWS service vary depending on the region based on elements like the cost of physical infrastructure and taxes. The difference between various regions can amount to hundreds of dollars, so choosing the right one is key to reducing unnecessary costs. You can use the official price calculator to see which region best suits your needs. Also check out NetApp’s AWS Calculator, which lets you calculate TCO including the cost of storage services.

Below is a table for reference that shows the various prices for each region for a 1TB data transfer.

1TB - Data Transfer Out Cost (USD) by Region

Parameter #3: Regulatory compliance and security—protecting company assets

Every country or union has a different set of compliance norms and rules to protect user data. Some regions might prohibit the transfer between their region and other regions. A violation of such compliance regulations may lead to lawsuits and result in critical financial and reputational damage to your organization. Additionally, if you offer worldwide services, you should consider using multiple AWS regions and availability zones to offer the fastest and most reliable service to your customers.

Parameter #4: Service Level Agreements (SLA)—right parameters to get better service.

AWS services offer different SLAs based on their unique availability and parameters. AWS will abide SLA best when you deploy the application according to AWS design. Take all other parameters into consideration along with your requirements when selecting a region and an AZ to ensure they offer the best solution to host and deploy your application.

Leveraging Availability Zones in AWS with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, cloud automation, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides high availability, ensuring business continuity with no data loss (RPO=0) and minimal recovery times (RTO < 60 secs).

Want to learn more about AWS high availability?

Availability zones play an important role in high availability. Find out more about establishing AWS high availability in these posts:

Want to get started? Try out Cloud Volumes ONTAP today with a 30-day free trial.

-