Zones and Regions of Cloud Providers: Everything You Should Know

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
May 31
14 min


Cloud computing has transformed modern IT infrastructure, providing enterprises with numerous benefits and advantages in organizational operations.

One of the key concepts introduced by cloud computing is the concept of cloud regions and availability zones (AZs), which play a critical role in developing reliable and highly available applications. Cloud regions and AZs offer a level of flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency, making cloud computing an increasingly popular choice for businesses and organizations around the world.

In today’s digital age, understanding the differences between regions across public cloud providers is essential for a successful cloud journey. Whether you are building a single cloud application, creating a multi-cloud solution, or migrating from one cloud to another, a deep understanding of what cloud regions are and how they operate can greatly enhance your cloud computing experience.


What are cloud availability regions?

Availability regions represent the geographic locations of data centers. These regions are scattered across the world, and each of them varies in terms of the portfolio of solutions offered, the costs associated, and latency.

For instance, a company operating in one region can experience a different quality of service compared to another that operates in a different location.

The selection of an availability region is dependent on a variety of factors such as the business environment, infrastructure, regulations, and customer expectations. The largest cloud service providers have established their availability regions worldwide to enhance accessibility and offer a seamless experience to their clients. These providers ensure that they set up data centers around the world to deliver their services closer to their customers.

Learn more about Hybrid & Multi-cloud 


Why are availability regions important?

Choosing the right region for your cloud resources can significantly enhance the experience of your customers, whether they are located internally or externally. Closer proximity between your resources and users can lead to faster and more efficient services. For example, if business operations are located in Detroit and customers are located in Poland, selecting a European region for cloud resources would improve customer experience.

Regions also play a significant role in disaster recovery (DR) strategies. While some public cloud users rely on inter-region resources for DR, other users rely on multiple regions for redundancy and reliability. This practice may be necessary to comply with regulatory or compliance requirements or as part of a company’s policy. In summary, selecting the right region is crucial for improving customer experience and ensuring continuity during crises.


Multiple region deployments

Deploying resources in multiple cloud regions allows organizations to replicate data in order to ensure business continuity and minimize risks associated with single points of failure. In the event of an outage or data loss in one region, workloads can be automatically redirected to other regions to maintain your business operations. This characteristic, known as fault tolerance, provides organizations with enhanced system resilience and reliability.

Additionally, multiple region deployments can also result in reduced latency for end users as they can access cloud resources through data centers located closest to their physical location. Overall, deploying resources in multiple cloud regions not only mitigates risks and ensures business continuity but also enhances end-user experience through reducing latency.

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What are cloud availability zones?

An availability zone can be defined as a single data center within a specific region. Such a zone comprises several data centers, each of which carries out a unique array of functions.

No individual data center within an availability zone is shared across multiple zones, so each availability zone is constructed to be isolated from the others, making it possible to maintain high levels of resilience and prevent single points of failure. Consequently, in case of an outage or disaster in one data center, services can continue uninterrupted from another data center within the same availability zone.

It is worth mentioning that each availability zone operates with its power, networking, and infrastructure. This approach enhances service continuity by providing redundancy, scalability, and flexibility while maintaining the highest standards of security and availability. Additionally, availability zones increase data durability and protection by leveraging proactive replication techniques across multiple availability zones. These measures result in a high level of reliability and resilience in the face of potential disruptions and are essential for any enterprise-level cloud-based system.


Multiple availability zones deployments

Organizations can avoid single points of failure by hosting or replicating resources across multiple availability zones (AZs) within the same region. This approach enables organizations to automatically failover between AZs in case of malfunction or downtime, minimizing interruptions. There are no additional charges for deploying virtual machines (VMs) in different AZs, although data transfer between VMs located in different AZs incurs a cost.


Understanding of cloud regions and availability zones

Cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, Oracle, and IBM utilize cloud regions and availability zones (AZs) to establish resilient and highly available cloud infrastructure. Previously, businesses would deploy applications in a single data center or perhaps two for backup and disaster recovery purposes. However, cloud technology has made it easy for businesses to roll out applications across multiple AZs within a region, thereby enhancing application availability. This practice can help businesses to design and deploy applications in the most optimal locations and ensure that they meet the demands of instant scalability, load balancing, high availability, and fault tolerance.


How many availability zones are in a region?

The availability of availability zones (AZs) in various regions may differ based on the cloud service provider. For instance, while AWS proposes 3 to 6 AZs per region, Google Cloud provides 3 to 4 zones and Microsoft Azure only presents 1 to 3 AZs, which implies that there are certain regions supported by only one AZ. However, it is worth mentioning that cloud providers tend to expand their infrastructure, and thus, the number of AZs in any given region may change over time.


What should you consider before choosing a cloud region?

When deciding on a cloud region for deploying applications and workloads, it is good to take into consideration several crucial factors. These factors include the geo-location of your users, legal and regulatory requirements, network latency, and compliance standards. Understanding the various factors and their implications is vital to ensure optimal performance, security, and compliance with your cloud workload.


#1 Proximity: One effective strategy for optimizing network performance and reducing latency is to select a regional location that is closest in proximity to both users and customers. By doing so, data can be transmitted and received more quickly, resulting in improved overall performance and user experience. This approach is based on the principle that physical distance can have a significant impact on network latency, with longer distances often resulting in slower data transfer times. Therefore, selecting a regional location that is in close proximity to the majority of users and customers can help to mitigate this issue and ensure that data is transmitted and received as quickly as possible.

#2 Feature availability: Selecting the appropriate cloud region requires careful consideration, particularly with regard to checking the availability of the services within the preferred region. It is imperative to note that not all regions offer the same services due to various factors such as regulatory limitations, infrastructure constraints, and varying user demands.

#3 Compliance and data sovereignty: When it comes to data storage and processing, various regions impose different regulations and compliance requirements that must be met to avoid legal repercussions. Some jurisdictions even prohibit user data storage in non-native territories. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a region that satisfies specific compliance needs to ensure the safe and secure handling of data. This decision involves careful consideration of various factors such as legal requirements, data security, and privacy regulations.

#4 Disaster recovery: In order to ensure effective redundancy and resilience in case of outages or disasters, a critical aspect to consider is the number and distribution of availability zones (AZs) in viable regions. An AZ represents a distinct data center within a region, meaning that having multiple AZs within a region can offer higher levels of redundancy and fault tolerance. Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze the number and distribution of AZs within each viable region, taking into account factors such as geographic location, population density, and local regulations. This will enable us to identify areas that may be more vulnerable to potential service disruptions and implement mitigation strategies accordingly.

#5 Cost: When considering cloud service providers, it is important to note that pricing can greatly vary depending on the region you select. Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze and compare the cost of utilizing resources in your chosen regions before making any decisions. Failing to do so can result in potential financial setbacks and ultimately hinder your ability to effectively manage and scale your business.

#6 Network connectivity: The availability of network infrastructure and connectivity options can vary significantly depending on the geographic location. The performance of applications can be influenced by several factors such as high-capacity backbone connections, redundant network paths, and dedicated connections to cloud service providers. Additionally, the reliability and cost of these applications can also be impacted by the quality of the network infrastructure and connectivity options available in a particular region. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider all factors related to network infrastructure and connectivity options when making decisions regarding application performance, reliability, and cost.


Choosing an availability zone

When making a decision about which availability zone to select from a cloud provider, there are several important factors that users should take into account. Choosing the right availability zone can have a significant impact on the performance, availability, and cost-effectiveness of your cloud-based resources and applications. Therefore, it is crucial to consider these important factors when comparing different availability zones offered by cloud providers.


#1 Latency and proximity: The proximity of a particular zone to a given location is directly proportional to the level of latency. This means that the closer the zone, the lower the latency one can expect. This principle is supported by various empirical studies and is a well-established fact in the realm of technological infrastructure. Therefore, it is critical to consider the distance between a user’s location and a zone when determining the optimal pathway to minimize latency.

#2 Compliance: Cloud providers operating in different regions may have to adhere to varying regulatory compliance laws and protocols. For example, in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) outlines strict guidelines for handling and protecting personal data. Not complying with these regulations could result in hefty fines and damage to a company’s reputation. Therefore, cloud providers must carefully consider and implement the necessary measures to adhere to pertinent regulations, ensuring optimal security and trust for their clients.

#3 Service-level agreement: The level of availability within a cloud computing environment can be influenced by the particular cloud provider or even the geographic region in which the service is being utilized. Generally, major cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud tend to provide high levels of availability. It’s important to note that differences in availability may exist depending on these various factors, so it’s crucial to explore and understand the options available to ensure an appropriate level of availability is achieved.

#4 Cost: The cost of using cloud services may vary depending on the region and cloud provider you choose. Some regions may incur higher costs than others due to various factors. It is important to thoroughly research and compare pricing plans before selecting a cloud provider to ensure the most cost-effective option is chosen.

#5 Redundancy: Considering the organization’s requirements and objectives, it is essential to determine whether the data and applications should be centralized in one location or distributed across regions. This decision should be based on a thorough analysis of the organization’s needs, infrastructure, and IT capabilities. It is worth noting that opting for a centralized approach offers benefits such as easier management, enhanced security, and efficient resource allocation. On the other hand, a distributed approach can provide better access to resources, minimize latency, and improve scalability.


Global vs regional vs zonal resources

When constructing your cloud infrastructure, it is important to identify which tasks require local processing and minimize cross-regional operations. This approach helps safeguard your system from hardware and infrastructure failures.

Zonal resources, including virtual machine instances and zonal persistent disks, exist within a specified zone. Meanwhile, regional resources, such as static external IP addresses, can be accessed by resources throughout the region, regardless of zone. To link a zonal persistent disk to an instance, both entities must be located in the same zone. Similarly, if you want to allocate a static IP address to an instance, the instance must be present within the same region as the IP address.

Overall, devising a thoughtful strategy for utilizing both regional and zonal resources is a critical component of creating a stable, functional cloud infrastructure.


Global Resources

  • Addresses: IP address list
  • Images: Container images
  • VPC network: VPC network
  • Routes: Network Routes
  • Firewalls: Firewalls are situated on a specific VPC and receive packets from other networks
  • Snapshots: Snapshots of persistent disk
  • Instance templates: Templates to create a VM
  • Global operations: Any type of operation
  • Cloud interconnect locations: The physical point of connection to a cloud network
  • Cloud interconnects: Connection between an on-premise network and a cloud network


Regional Resources

  • Addresses
  • Subnets
  • Regional operations
  • Cloud interconnect attachments
  • Regional-managed instance groups
  • Regional persistent disks


Zonal Resources

  • Machine types
  • Instances
  • Zonal-managed instance groups
  • Per-zone operations
  • Persistent disks


Zones and regions of cloud providers

When it comes to cloud providers, Amazon and Microsoft have established a head start in terms of developing their regions and zones. However, Google has entered the scene as a noteworthy competitor and has managed to keep pace with its more established rivals. In fact, it is now considered a viable choice for businesses looking to migrate their data to the cloud.

In terms of market coverage, all three providers have a similar reach in major geographical areas including China, North America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Europe. There may be a few exceptions where Azure and AWS offer coverage in different locations than Google, such as South Africa. Therefore, while there may be minor differences in geographical coverage, all three cloud service providers offer comparable services in most areas.


Azure regions and zones

Azure regions

Microsoft Azure has a vast global presence with over 60 cloud regions distributed in Europe, North America, Africa, South America, and Asia Pacific. These regions offer customers access to a wide range of cloud services, each with unique features tailored to meet specific needs. Some of the popular Microsoft Azure regions include East US, located in Virginia, West Europe situated in Amsterdam, and Southeast Asia, found in Singapore. With its widespread infrastructure, Microsoft Azure provides businesses with quick access to cloud resources from any location worldwide.

Azure zones

In order to provide maximum redundancy and minimize downtime, Azure boasts a remarkable 115 AZs distributed across its launched regions.

Explore: Why Fortune 500 bet on Azure?


AWS regions and zones

AWS regions

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has an extensive global presence with 31 cloud regions strategically placed across Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, and Asia Pacific. These regions provide businesses and individuals across the world with efficient and reliable access to AWS services. Whether you’re located in Ohio and need to use the us-east-2 region, or you’re in France and require access to the eu-west-3 region, or you need the ap-southeast-2 region in Australia, AWS has got you covered. With such a diverse range of cloud locations on offer, AWS is able to cater to the unique needs of businesses and individuals everywhere.

AWS zones

As a global player, AWS currently has 99 AZs spread across its regions.


Google regions and zones

Google regions

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has established an extensive network of 37 cloud regions strategically located across the globe, spanning Europe, Middle East, North America, South America, and Asia Pacific. Each region is designed to provide high performance and low latency to users in the specific geographic area it serves. The regions are identified by unique names that indicate their physical location, such as us-central1 in Iowa, United States, europe-west2 in London, UK, and asia-southeast1 in Singapore. With this comprehensive network of cloud regions, GCP offers businesses unparalleled reach and scalability to meet their computing needs.

Google zones

Tech giant like Google provides 112 zones in their regions.



The use of cloud regions and availability zones (AZs) has become essential in modern IT infrastructure. Companies need to understand the differences between regions and zones across public cloud providers for a successful cloud journey. Careful selection of the right region or zone is crucial for improved customer experience and ensuring business continuity during crises, making cloud computing an increasingly popular choice for businesses of all sizes around the world.

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
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