AWS looks to tap APAC demand for edge access with Local Zones

Amazon Web Services outlines a two-year plan to set up 10 Local Zones in Asia-Pacific, where it sees growing demand for edge cloud capabilities that support ultra-low latency and distributed service delivery.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has unveiled plans to set up 10 Local Zones in Asia-Pacific, as part of a global rollout that will add another 22 locations to the fold. The move to push cloud capabilities to the edge is in line with growing enterprise demand for ultra-low latency and distributed service delivery. 

Organisations were digitalising rapidly and building applications that required huge amounts of data to be processed, and quickly, as these moved across networks. It was driving the need for distributed computing models to improve performance and efficiencies, said Olivier Klein, AWS' Asia-Pacific Japan chief technologist.

The US cloud vendor on Thursday announced plans to launch 32 Local Zones over the next two years, which would include 10 in six Asia-Pacific markets. These comprised Auckland, Manila, Bangkok, Hanoi,  Brisbane and Perth in Australia, and four Indian cities including Chennai and Bengaluru.

Increased digital adoption was pushing business demand for cloud technologies to move closer to end-users, Klein said during a video conference Thursday with regional media. The Local Zones would ensure support for applications that needed single-digit millisecond latency and were accessed by users across multiple geographies, such as real-time multiplayer games and live-streaming content services.

Edge capabilities also addressed demands for flexible and scalable cloud services, he said. He noted that such requirements were essential in current remote and hybrid work environments where virtual workstations were now the norm. 

Asked if these locations were selected to plug gaps in the region where AWS had yet to set up cloud regions, Klein said Local Zones locations were determined based on customer feedback. They also would operate as an "extension" of the vendor's cloud regions, while bringing cloud capabilities closer users in metropolitan areas, he said. 

For example, organisations could run data analytics on an AWS cloud region and had local data processing requirements that they could host on a Local Zone. The data then could be moved via a secured connection between the region and local sites. 

AWS currently operates 10 cloud regions in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Beijing, Sydney, Mumbai, and more recently Jakarta. It also has 84 availability zones worldwide, which included 32 in Asia-Pacific.

Local Zones, however, would offer only a sub-selection of services available via AWS cloud regions, according to Klein. He said services would be added and made available at the local level based on customer demand and feedback. 

As previously mentioned, he said AWS cloud customers also could leverage the connectivity between region and local zones to extend the deployment of some services, such as security functions and video analytics. For instance, while AWS Panorama is an edge service and currently not available on AWS Local Zones, customers can push aggregated data securely from their edge device running Panorama to a AWS region or Local Zone. 

He noted that services deployed in a Local Zone would have the same security support and controls as those in an AWS cloud region. Security on EC2 in a Local Zone, for example, would be similar to that in a region. Some optional security features, however, would not be available in Local Zones such as Amazon GuardDuty, he added. 

APAC firms look for distributed, diverse cloud

There also was demand for alternative cloud locations in Asia outside of popular hubs such as Singapore, noted IDC's Asia-Pacific vice president Chris Morris, during the media briefing. 

This was prompted in part by the Singapore government's decision in end-2020 to temporarily halt the release of land for data centres and the development of such facilities in the city-state. 

While it recently lifted the decision and resumed plans to accommodate the construction of data centres, Morris said the move prompted businesses in the region to diversify their coverage and not run all their critical applications in one cloud location. 

In scouting for alternative locations, he said Bangkok had emerged amongst preferred sites, along with others in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. 

The IDC analyst further noted that cloud vendors including AWS and Microsoft were broadening their portfolio to better suit business requirements, which were moving towards a distributed cloud computing model. 

Infrastructures and applications were being deployed outside data centres and public clouds, and closer to where data was generated and consumed, he said. In retail, for instance, business applications were needed on endpoint devices where customers research products, on the edge when customers made their purchases in store, and on core networks where customer datasets were aggregated in data centres. 

As more workloads became more distributed and moved to the edge, cloud environments would be more complex, he said, pointing to data governance issues. 

Citing IDC research, Morris said an explosion of edge data would push 55% of Asia's top 2000 companies, by 2024, to embed "edge-first data stewardship" as well as security and network practices into data protection. 

He added that data management frameworks must encompass all aspects of the network, from core to edge, to ensure the organisation's trust and compliance were maintained. 

By 2025, IDC projected that there would be a six-fold growth in high-dependency workloads. This would push 65% of Asia's top 2000 companies to use consistent architectural governance frameworks to facilitate compliance reporting and auditing of their infrastructure, he said. 

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