Originally published in Apr 2016, at Onica.com/blog
One of the questions we commonly hear from customers and prospects who are considering moving their web applications to Amazon® EC2® is, “Do I need to build a multi-region architecture in AWS?”
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud® or EC2 helps make web-scale cloud computing easy for developers, providing them with complete control over the computing resources they run in AWS. With Amazon EC2, developers can quickly spin up new server instances and scale up or down capacity as their requirements change. One of the questions we commonly hear from customers and prospects who are considering moving their web applications to Amazon EC2 is, “Do I need to build a multi-region architecture in AWS?”
AWS provides developers with a global infrastructure to run their applications in the Cloud. How many regions does AWS have? There are 77 Availability Zones in 24 geographic Regions around the world. Regions are defined as a physical location, and Availability Zones, or AZs, contain one or more data centers in separate facilities. Because AWS has multiple AZs, customers enjoy benefits such as high availability and improved continuity with replication between Regions. In 2016, AWS planned to add 18 more AZs and six more Regions.
While we think you might be wise to build an AWS multi-region architecture for global applications, it’s not always as simple as you think. And it’s certainly not as easy as designing a Multi-AZ architecture within a single Region.
Before building an AWS multi-region architecture, you should ask yourself — Why do I really need a multi-region architecture? Here are four reasons you should consider before building a multi-regional AWS presence:
If you are looking to improve performance for a globally distributed user base, I suggest looking at Amazon CloudFront® CDN, the Amazon low latency global content delivery network. In CloudFront CDN, you can run your web architecture within a single Region while caching static web files, content, and so on at the edge locations closest to your end users all over the world with decreased latency.
You should consider that many large organizations are leveraging multiple AZ’s within one Region to achieve 99.999% up-times. This level of uptime and availability meets most demands.
Multi-regional architectures are the norm for organizations with disaster recovery and business continuity requirements. However, it is also important to evaluate your recovery point and recovery time objectives (RPO and RTO) to determine which disaster recovery pattern is most suitable for your organization. In most cases, a pilot-light pattern is sufficient.
This is another scenario in which multi-regional architectures are the norm. Investigate an active/active architecture but realize that there might be many challenges ahead. You can see a map of the AWS global infrastructure here.
Always remember to keep it simple and thoroughly assess your organization’s requirements before going down the active/active multi-region route. There are many challenges, including primary/primary database configurations, routing, throughput, cost, and more to consider before building your multi-region architecture in AWS.
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