REL10-BP01 Deploy the workload to multiple locations - AWS Well-Architected Framework

REL10-BP01 Deploy the workload to multiple locations

Distribute workload data and resources across multiple Availability Zones or, where necessary, across AWS Regions. These locations can be as diverse as required.

One of the bedrock principles for service design in AWS is the avoidance of single points of failure in underlying physical infrastructure. This motivates us to build software and systems that use multiple Availability Zones and are resilient to failure of a single zone. Similarly, systems are built to be resilient to failure of a single compute node, single storage volume, or single instance of a database. When building a system that relies on redundant components, it’s important to ensure that the components operate independently, and in the case of AWS Regions, autonomously. The benefits achieved from theoretical availability calculations with redundant components are only valid if this holds true.

Availability Zones (AZs)

AWS Regions are composed of multiple Availability Zones that are designed to be independent of each other. Each Availability Zone is separated by a meaningful physical distance from other zones to avoid correlated failure scenarios due to environmental hazards like fires, floods, and tornadoes. Each Availability Zone also has independent physical infrastructure: dedicated connections to utility power, standalone backup power sources, independent mechanical services, and independent network connectivity within and beyond the Availability Zone. This design limits faults in any of these systems to just the one affected AZ. Despite being geographically separated, Availability Zones are located in the same regional area which allows high-throughput, low-latency networking. The entire AWS Region (across all Availability Zones, consisting of multiple physically independent data centers) can be treated as a single logical deployment target for your workload, including the ability to synchronously replicate data (for example, between databases). This allows you to use Availability Zones in an active/active or active/standby configuration.

Availability Zones are independent, and therefore workload availability is increased when the workload is architected to use multiple zones. Some AWS services (including the Amazon EC2 instance data plane) are deployed as strictly zonal services where they have shared fate with the Availability Zone they are in. Amazon EC2 instances in the other AZs will however be unaffected and continue to function. Similarly, if a failure in an Availability Zone causes an Amazon Aurora database to fail, a read-replica Aurora instance in an unaffected AZ can be automatically promoted to primary. Regional AWS services, such as Amazon DynamoDB on the other hand internally use multiple Availability Zones in an active/active configuration to achieve the availability design goals for that service, without you needing to configure AZ placement.

Diagram showing multi-tier architecture deployed across three Availability Zones. Note that Amazon S3 and Amazon DynamoDB are always Multi-AZ automatically. The ELB also is deployed to all three zones.

Figure 9: Multi-tier architecture deployed across three Availability Zones. Note that Amazon S3 and Amazon DynamoDB are always Multi-AZ automatically. The ELB also is deployed to all three zones.

While AWS control planes typically provide the ability to manage resources within the entire Region (multiple Availability Zones), certain control planes (including Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS) have the ability to filter results to a single Availability Zone. When this is done, the request is processed only in the specified Availability Zone, reducing exposure to disruption in other Availability Zones. This AWS CLI example illustrates getting Amazon EC2 instance information from only the us-east-2c Availability Zone:

AWS ec2 describe-instances --filters Name=availability-zone,Values=us-east-2c

AWS Local Zones

AWS Local Zones act similarly to Availability Zones within their respective AWS Region in that they can be selected as a placement location for zonal AWS resources such as subnets and EC2 instances. What makes them special is that they are located not in the associated AWS Region, but near large population, industry, and IT centers where no AWS Region exists today. Yet they still retain high-bandwidth, secure connection between local workloads in the local zone and those running in the AWS Region. You should use AWS Local Zones to deploy workloads closer to your users for low-latency requirements.

Amazon Global Edge Network

Amazon Global Edge Network consists of edge locations in cities around the world. Amazon CloudFront uses this network to deliver content to end users with lower latency. AWS Global Accelerator allows you to create your workload endpoints in these edge locations to provide onboarding to the AWS global network close to your users. Amazon API Gateway allows edge-optimized API endpoints using a CloudFront distribution to facilitate client access through the closest edge location.

AWS Regions

AWS Regions are designed to be autonomous, therefore, to use a multi-Region approach you would deploy dedicated copies of services to each Region.

A multi-Region approach is common for disaster recovery strategies to meet recovery objectives when one-off large-scale events occur. See Plan for Disaster Recovery (DR) for more information on these strategies. Here however, we focus instead on availability, which seeks to deliver a mean uptime objective over time. For high-availability objectives, a multi-region architecture will generally be designed to be active/active, where each service copy (in their respective regions) is active (serving requests).


Availability goals for most workloads can be satisfied using a Multi-AZ strategy within a single AWS Region. Consider multi-Region architectures only when workloads have extreme availability requirements, or other business goals, that require a multi-Region architecture.

AWS provides you with the capabilities to operate services cross-region. For example, AWS provides continuous, asynchronous data replication of data using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) Replication, Amazon RDS Read Replicas (including Aurora Read Replicas), and Amazon DynamoDB Global Tables. With continuous replication, versions of your data are available for near immediate use in each of your active Regions.

Using AWS CloudFormation, you can define your infrastructure and deploy it consistently across AWS accounts and across AWS Regions. And AWS CloudFormation StackSets extends this functionality by allowing you to create, update, or delete AWS CloudFormation stacks across multiple accounts and regions with a single operation. For Amazon EC2 instance deployments, an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) is used to supply information such as hardware configuration and installed software. You can implement an Amazon EC2 Image Builder pipeline that creates the AMIs you need and copy these to your active regions. This ensures that these Golden AMIs have everything you need to deploy and scale-out your workload in each new region.

To route traffic, both Amazon Route 53 and AWS Global Accelerator permit the definition of policies that determine which users go to which active regional endpoint. With Global Accelerator you set a traffic dial to control the percentage of traffic that is directed to each application endpoint. Route 53 supports this percentage approach, and also multiple other available policies including geoproximity and latency based ones. Global Accelerator automatically leverages the extensive network of AWS edge servers, to onboard traffic to the AWS network backbone as soon as possible, resulting in lower request latencies.

All of these capabilities operate so as to preserve each Region’s autonomy. There are very few exceptions to this approach, including our services that provide global edge delivery (such as Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Route 53), along with the control plane for the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service. Most services operate entirely within a single Region.

On-premises data center

For workloads that run in an on-premises data center, architect a hybrid experience when possible. AWS Direct Connect provides a dedicated network connection from your premises to AWS allowing you to run in both.

Another option is to run AWS infrastructure and services on premises using AWS Outposts. AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to your data center. The same hardware infrastructure used in the AWS Cloud is installed in your data center. AWS Outposts are then connected to the nearest AWS Region. You can then use AWS Outposts to support your workloads that have low latency or local data processing requirements.

Level of risk exposed if this best practice is not established: High

Implementation guidance

  • Use multiple Availability Zones and AWS Regions. Distribute workload data and resources across multiple Availability Zones or, where necessary, across AWS Regions. These locations can be as diverse as required.

  • If your workload must be deployed to multiple Regions, choose a multi-Region strategy. Most reliability needs can be met within a single AWS Region using a multi-Availability Zone strategy. Use a multi-Region strategy when necessary to meet your business needs.

  • Evaluate AWS Outposts for your workload. If your workload requires low latency to your on-premises data center or has local data processing requirements. Then run AWS infrastructure and services on premises using AWS Outposts

  • Determine if AWS Local Zones helps you provide service to your users. If you have low-latency requirements, see if AWS Local Zones is located near your users. If yes, then use it to deploy workloads closer to those users.


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