Not all Azure datacenters are equal – What to consider with regards to DR

When Microsoft released the new Azure datacenters in Norway last week, which was great news for Norwegian customers, which have now been waiting for the datacenter to be available on Norwegian Soil. Theyu also published a little roadmap on what is coming moving forward. Looking at the service availability you can see that most of the functionality is:

1: Based out of Norway East
2: Not planned for Norway West (Only supporting services to underline with GRS functionality)

Which you can see here –>,norway-west&products=all

Also, one other thing that you need to take into consideration is that Norway is still pretty small compared to other regions, and will most likely be “last in line” when it comes to new services that are outside of core functionality where most of the new services are aimed at US and hero sites such as West Europe. So essentially using West Europe as your main site might give you an edge in terms of being able to try new services/capabilities and infrastructure, which again might also give you as a company the ability to save more on infrastructure such as when Microsoft will soon be providing new virtual machine instance types based upon AMD based CPUs.

Now Norway East and West regions are what Microsoft calls as Geo-paired regions. meaning that if you set up a service that uses GRS based replication or storage for its persistent data, the data will replicate between the two geo-paired regions for redundancy purposes. This is in most cases, not something that can be changed, meaning that if you have a storage account that is configured as GRS, the data will be replicated within the geopaired regions.

Bilderesultat for grs storage

Have GRS is primarily for DR purposes, meaning that if the entire Norway East regions goes down and Microsoft determines the site as down you have the data available in the other region which you then can use to bring up services on the other side.

There are multiple services within Azure which can be used in combination with GRS, such as

  • Azure Storage
  • Azure SQL
  • Azure Backup

This is some of the services and not a complete list, now some of these services are adjustable that they can use GRS or other options such as ZRS, LRS or RGRS. Azure Storage is also coming with object replication which allows you do replicate certain parts of an Storage Account to another region, but this only applies to Storage Accounts. 

Now the issue occurs if you as a company need to start using services that are not available in the Norwegian data centers, especially in the west datacenter (or other datacenters which have the same limitations for that matter) how can this align with your DR strategy? When using GRS based services to Norway West but on the other hand you also have several services running on App Services which are not available in that region which you need to provide DR from another region or other location.

In Azure you have an option called Azure Site Recovery which can be used to replicate virtual infrastructure from one region to another, which you can specify which region to replicate from and to which can be used to replicate infrastructure from for instance Norway East to North Europe. This allows you now to use Azure Site Recovery to provide DR on IaaS and you can also then leverage PaaS services from both Norway East and North Europe to provide DR on PaaS level.

So should you always choose the closest data center when starting your journey out to Azure or Cloud in general? based upon compliance demands or data locality (latency). If you do not have these certain demands, always look at the current status of services that are available, understand the constraints and limits on the different regions which might be under consideration, and also look at how it will affect the future state of your infrastructure and lastly price which also will affect based upon which region you might choose.

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