AWS Global Infrastructure
A significant selling point for AWS is the ability to go global in minutes. To better understand what that means, this article is going to break down Amazon’s existing global infrastructure for AWS. To start, let’s look at the world; on any globe, we group countries into continents, and that is where the AWS footprint starts: Regions. Each Region is a physical location in the world comprised multiple Availability Zones.
AWS has 18 geographic locations spread across the globe, with four more announced regions on the way. Check out the AWS Global Infrastructure page for current list of Regions.
Availability Zones and Data Centers
I previously mentioned that each Region of the AWS global infrastructure is comprised of Availability Zones, and each Region has a minimum of two Availability Zones. A single Availability Zone is comprised of one or more independent data centers. Each data center is built with redundant power, networking, and connectivity, and are housed in separate facilities to reduce the points of failure
Building Availability Zones using these redundant methods is what gives customers the ability to build production-level applications and databases with high availability, scalability and fault tolerance.
Each data center Amazon builds in an Availability Zone is connected to each other via private, high-speed fiber optics to allow for nearly instantaneous replication of data within a single Availability Zone. Each Availability Zone in a single Region is also connected to each other in the same manner as the data centers that make up an Availability Zone. This level of connectivity allows customers to replicate their data within a Region to achieve a near constant up-time when it comes to highly sensitive workloads.
Every data center built by Amazon is also staffed and operated by Amazon employees and is constructed using a four-layer architecture: Perimeter, Infrastructure, Data & Environmental.
The Perimeter layer is comprised of physical security of the site such as security guards, fencing, monitoring systems, intrusion detection, as well as other security measures.
The Infrastructure layer is comprised of the technologies used to run and support the physical contents of the building - including backup power solutions, HVAC systems, and fire suppression systems.
The Data layer is comprised of the physical hardware that makes up the actual AWS infrastructure. The Data layer is also the most critical layer since it houses all of the customer data, so more layers of security are used. Security measures such as access control, threat detection devices, video surveillance and system protocols are used to safeguard this layer further.
Finally, the Environmental layer is a dedication made by Amazon to ensure a level of sustainability. Criteria taken into consideration are things such as physical location of a proposed data center, mitigating environmental risks such as flooding, extreme weather, and seismic activity. The locales utility infrastructure is taken into consideration as well, such as how the power is supplied and what safeguards the municipalities have in place to protect against power outages. How the power is provided is also a factor; Amazon is committed to using 100% renewable energy. With all of these factors taken into consideration for a single data center, customers can shift their expenditures from a capital to operational model and merely build their cloud environment to take advantage of the existing AWS infrastructure.
For everyone outside of the AWS Global Infrastructure, they access the data within through Edge Locations. Edge Locations are the physical network entry points into the AWS infrastructure. Of which there are currently 102 Edge Locations in 56 cities across 24 countries. With so many edge locations around the globe, this allows for a low latency connection and near seamless experience for both customers consuming data from AWS, and customers building their services upon the AWS infrastructure.
Edge Locations are also used by several AWS services that customers can take advantage of to serve their information to consumers around the globe better. Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs with near single digit latency. Amazon CloudFront can also be used alongside other AWS services such as Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon EC2 as origins for your applications such as pictures and videos.
In conclusion, the AWS Global Infrastructure can be seen as the tightly woven fabric used to interconnect AWS services across the globe. With customers granted full access to all Regions and Availability Zones, minus the AWS GovCloud for apparent reasons, applications and data can be made accessible globally within minutes, rather than days, weeks or even months.