June 10, 2018 By Andrew Hately 2 min read

IBM Cloud announces network expansion with availability zones in six global regions

Today, we announced our plans to launch 18 availability zones for the IBM Cloud in six major regions in North America (Dallas, Texas and Washington, DC), Europe (Germany and UK) and Asia-Pacific (Tokyo and Sydney). While the announcement primarily focuses on the geographic expansion of our cloud footprint, it also unveils our new approach to deliver our full stack of public cloud capabilities in a more highly available, redundant, and geographically dispersed manner.

Customers using the IBM Cloud console to provision offerings like IBM Cloud Object Storage, Containers, and other PaaS services may be familiar with the concepts of availability zones and regions, but it’s worth breaking down what this announcement means relative to those services and other location constructs like the IBM Cloud Data Centers that host IaaS and IBM Cloud Managed Application Services workloads around the world.

Let’s start with some simple definitions:

IBM Cloud Region: A region is a geographically and physically separate group of one or more availability zones with independent electrical and network infrastructures isolated from other regions. Regions are designed to remove shared single points of failure with other regions and guarantee low inter-zone latency within the region.

IBM Cloud Availability Zone: An availability zone is a logically and physically isolated location within an IBM Cloud Region with independent power, cooling and network infrastructures isolated from other zones to strengthen fault tolerance by avoiding single points of failure between zones, while also guaranteeing high bandwidth and low inter-zone latency within a region.

These definitions are straightforward and some of our public cloud offerings already use region-based definitions to abstract the offerings from individual physical data center locations. As an example, IBM Cloud Object Storage hashes and splits data between a minimum of three different facilities either in the same geographical area (for Regional service) or across multiple regions (for Cross-Region service).

In the IBM Cloud Regions, we’ll be bringing a consistent set of IBM Cloud services from infrastructure to data to serverless to AI capabilities in the offering portfolio as well as resiliency for the platform.

The most exciting aspect of this new region/availability zone architecture is that it provides an even more robust infrastructure foundation for the new offerings we’ll be delivering on a continuous basis in the future. By abstracting physical locations and providing additional underlying redundancy, we’re able to roll out new capabilities like Virtual Private Cloud networking (which was also announced in beta today) for IaaS services.

Our new availability zones and regions architecture is the next step in the evolution of our public cloud platform, and it’ll immediately reinforce and supplement the broad portfolio of infrastructure, platform, and software services that our clients trust to fuel their businesses.

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