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AWS Expands Cloud to Canada, United Kingdom

by Richard Seroter on Dec 19, 2016 |

Just days after the end of re:Invent, AWS shared news of further geographic expansion.  Amazon added locations in Montréal and London, representing the 15th and 16th regions of the AWS cloud.

This Montréal location—labeled the "Canada (Central)" region—is the first in Canada for the cloud giant. Like all AWS regions, Montréal offers multiple availability zones (AZ) for redundancy purposes. The data centers in each AZ gets power from a separate grid. According to AWS, these Canadian grids generate 99% of their electricity from hydropower. Amazon expanded into Canada for many reasons, and chose the province of Québec for one reason: room for expansion.

AWS has chosen to expand in this area for business, technical and data sovereignty reasons. The Seattle-based cloud giant said customers want to have apps and data living in the specific country of origin, especially government agencies.

Lena Trudeau, head of public sector, Canada for AWS, says the regions provide a big difference politically. Many Canadian businesses have both regulatory and perceived reasons for keeping data in Canada. There were some limitations with cloud adoption because of it in certain customer segments such as public sector....

Amazon joins many located in the province of Quebec. Gales says for AWS it was a matter of network capacity requirements. The area had an abundance of power and the province was committed to a long-term renewable resource strategy.

AWS specifically brought up network connectivity in their blog post announcing the Canadian region. They claimed that the lower bound of latency from Montréal to Toronto is 9ms, 47ms to Calgary, and 60ms to Vancouver. Latency to the United States includes 9ms to New York, 16ms to Northern Virginia (US East region), and 75ms to Oregon (US West region).

The Canada (Central) region offers the usual array of AWS services, including: Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Glacier, Amazon SQS, Amazon S3, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Snowball. However, not all AWS services are available at the moment. Notable omissions include: Amazon API Gateway, Amazon EFS, Amazon WorkSpaces, AWS Lambda, AWS OpsWorks Stacks, and AWS Service Catalog. Not surprisingly, most of the recently-announced services—such as Amazon Athena, Amazon Lightsail, or AWS Managed Services—aren't enabled yet.

Amazon also announced the availability of a new region in Europe. The London region is the third for AWS in the European Union, joining Frankfurt and Ireland. Many companies in the UK already use AWS services in other EU regions, but Amazon made a point of highlighting the value of a local region that complies with UK certifications.

Every AWS Region is designed and built to meet rigorous compliance standards including ISO 27001, ISO 9001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC3, PCI DSS Level 1, and many more. Our Cloud Compliance page includes information about these standards, along with those that are specific to the UK, including Cyber Essentials Plus.

The UK Government recognizes that local datacenters from hyper scale public cloud providers can deliver secure solutions for OFFICIAL workloads. In order to meet the special security needs of public sector organizations in the UK with respect to OFFICIAL workloads, we have worked with our Direct Connect Partners to make sure that obligations for connectivity to the Public Services Network (PSN) and N3 can be met.

Like the Canadian region, the new UK location has a subset of total AWS services available today. Customers have access to standard services like Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SQS, and Amazon VPC. Missing services include: Amazon API Gateway, Amazon Lightsail, Amazon Machine Learning, AWS Cloud HSM, and AWS Directory Service.

The three major cloud providers continue their aggressive expansion around the globe. While Microsoft claims to have the most cloud regions of any provider—Azure is present in the most unique geographies—it's important to recognize the difference between how Microsoft and AWS define a "region." Each Amazon region contains one or more "Availability Zones" deployed as separate data centers. For Azure, a region may or may not have distinct data centers. Regardless, Microsoft has announced further expansion within the United States, France and South Korea. AWS expects to launch a Paris region in the coming months. Google plans on invading Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, and the UK in 2017. It remains to be seen what effect all this cloud expansion will have on colocation and managed hosting providers that historically relied on geographic advantages. 

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