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Amazon’s cloud offshoot AWS (Amazon Web Services) has confirmed global expansion plans for AWS Local Zones, an initiative it kicked off back in 2019 to bring low-latency cloud infrastructure services closer to large populations and industrial hubs.

The move serves to help AWS double down on its existing edge computing efforts, as companies across the spectrum seek data processing and storage closer to their end users.

“The edge of the cloud is expanding and is now becoming available virtually everywhere,” Prasad Kalyanaraman, AWS’s vice president of infrastructure services, noted in a statement.

AWS Local Zones are somewhat related to cloud regions and availability zones, except they don’t have the full array of AWS services — but they do bring compute, storage, database, and other core services closer to where major companies need ultra-low, “single-digit millisecond” latency for data processing and transfers.

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This is particularly important for video-streaming, real-time gaming, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning use-cases.

Netflix, for example, is expanding its reach beyond live-action content and further into animation and computer-powered visual effects. Up to now, the animators, producers, and artists have typically had to use special hardware located at their desks — but now, Netflix want to offload the required computing power to the cloud.

“In order to provide a good working experience for our artists, they need low latency access to their virtual workstations,” Stephen Kowalski, Netflix’s director of digital production infrastructure engineering, said. “AWS Local Zones brings cloud resources closer to our artists.”

The story so far

The first AWS Local Zone launched in Los Angeles back in 2019, and in the intervening years Amazon rolled out fifteen additional zones to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, and Seattle.

Back in December, Amazon announced that it would be adding more than 30 new Local Zones globally in 2022. While it did mention which countries would benefit, today it confirmed the specific cities across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. These include:

Amsterdam (the Netherlands); Athens (Greece); Auckland (New Zealand); Bangkok (Thailand); Bengaluru (India); Berlin (Germany); Bogotá (Colombia); Brisbane (Australia); Brussels (Belgium); Buenos Aires (Argentina); Chennai (India); Copenhagen (Denmark); Delhi (India); Hanoi (Vietnam); Helsinki (Finland); Johannesburg (South Africa); Kolkata (India); Lima (Peru); Lisbon (Portugal); Manila (Philippines); Munich (Germany); Nairobi (Kenya); Oslo (Norway); Perth (Australia); Prague (Czech Republic); Querétaro (Mexico); Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Santiago (Chile); Toronto (Canada); Vancouver (Canada); Vienna (Austria); and Warsaw (Poland).

In truth, there may be any number of reasons a company might need access to more localized zones. A growing array of privacy regulations means that many companies are having to adhere to stringent data residency requirements, which may simply mean storing data in datacenters located in a particular country. But it could also mean that companies need to run parts of their business from on-premises data centers, while simultaneously leveraging specific AWS cloud services. Local Zones could be particularly well-suited to such hybrid cloud scenarios.

Ultimately, AWS Local Zones are all about supporting the burgeoning edge computing movement by bringing AWS infrastructure closer to the action, and giving companies more choice in terms of their infrastructure setup.

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