AWS comes to Germany as Amazon unveils second EU region, out of Frankfurt

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Credit: Barb Darrow

Amazon has launched its long-awaited German-based region – its second in Europe, after the one based in Ireland, and its eleventh worldwide. It was scheduled to go live at 3pm local time, or 6am PT, on Thursday, though it seems to have fired up earlier.

This is also the third [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services (AWS) region that the company claims is carbon-neutral, after US West (Oregon), and GovCloud. It provides two availability zones.

The region is run out of Frankfurt. According to AWS EMEA chief Steve Midgley, this is because “Frankfurt is one of the largest internet exchanges globally.” Of course, sticking it in Germany is hardly a coincidence: the country has very strict data protection laws, even by European standards, and companies are limited in what they can store overseas.

“We know that data sovereignty is important to our customers in Germany,” Midgley said. “A number have told us that they’re running the workload that they’re allowed to run on us, by virtue of policy, but they’re not permitted to run other workloads. It tends to differ from company to company, but some examples might be customer data, personal data.”

That sentiment was backed up by several business representatives in an AWS statement, such as Achim Heidebrecht, the IT chief of German insurer Talanx. “With the launch of the AWS region on German soil, we will now move even more of our sensitive and mission-critical workloads to AWS,” he said.

The other big drivers are reliability and latency – Midgley said AWS’s business growth in Europe has been “very robust”, and many customers want to run in multiple European regions so as to “construct more resilient cloud infrastructures.”

The big public cloud providers are all racing to boast the widest coverage around the world – note [company]Microsoft[/company]’s announcement earlier this week about now having 19 regions (the latest is Australia.) Microsoft has also hinted at putting an Azure region in Germany.

Midgley said the new central European region would appeal to customers as far away as the Middle East and Russia. As regards the land of Putin, he didn’t want to comment much on the implications of a new law that will, from the start of 2016, oblige internet services holding the data of Russian citizens to store it on Russian soil.

“We will respond to customer requirements as and when they become economically viable and make sense,” Midgley said. “We certainly haven’t seen a decrease in the number of Russian customers leveraging the power of the cloud.”

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David Mytton

It’s always seemed strange to me that AWS only had a single region in Europe, and Ireland being in the far west of Europe so not great latency to the remainder of the continent. Good to see them building out more capacity here and also great they’re making it carbon neutral, something which Google does for all their facilities.

So now we have Amazon, Microsoft and Softlayer with a lot of regions covering the world. Where is Google? Why do they still only have 3 regions in generic locations like “US Central” and “EU West”?

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