Microsoft Introduces Azure’s Availability Zones, Increasing Service Availability

Posted by Augusto Alvarez on October 3, 2017

One of Azure customers’ main requests for Microsoft was something that their main competitor, Amazon Web Services (AWS), already had: The option to deploy critical apps in Azure and protect them in case of a datacenter outage. Finally now, in order to catch up and offer truly high availability possibilities, Microsoft announced the public preview of Availability Zones in Azure.

Microsoft Azure Region - Scheme - Zones

“Availability Zones” main concept resides on offer fault-isolated locations within an Azure region, which provides redundant power, cooling, networking and any other component related to Azure’s datacenters. The mission for these availability zones is to, of course, provide high availability for workloads running in these datacenters to guarantee resiliency in case of an outage.

The Availability Zones concept has been around AWS for quite some time now, and yes, they are using the exact same name. The feature in AWS is constantly growing and expanding to several regions and type of workloads; Amazon even mentions that, in some cases, some customers may have more Availability Zones available depending on when they started using the features.

Amazon Web Services - Graphics - Availability Zones

AWS graphic for Availability Zones

Microsoft is offering three separate availability zones in all enabled regions, which in this preview there are going to be only two that will have that option: East US 2 (Virginia) and West Europe (Netherlands); MS also mentions that more regions will be available before the end of the year. Additionally, not all services and workloads will have the option to use Availability Zones, the select group available for this high availability option are:

  • Windows and Linux Virtual Machines. Only three different families supported:
    • Av2
    • Dv2
    • DSv2
  • Zonal Virtual Machine Scale Sets
  • Managed Disks
  • Load Balancer

With the Availability Zones, Microsoft will be offering a 99.99% SLA for virtual machines deployed in two or more zones within a region when the services is generally available. The SLA will be a financial commitment from MS.

Even though the availability zones and the datacenters associated will be defined within a same geographical region (details of the location, distance, size and other are not disclosed for obvious reasons), considering that an entire region will be down for all their availability zones becomes really unlikely. These datacenters are designed by default to be protected against flooding, earthquakes, fires and any other unintentional or intentional catastrophe.


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