AWS has announced the arrival of a new US East Region in Ohio. This invokes two important questions for AWS users, namely is the new Ohio Region a better choice for my organization? And, if so, should I switch over to it? The answer to both questions really depends on where your organization is located. Let’s take a look at how you can practically examine the fit of the new Ohio Region given your specific location.
As a reminder, a Region is a physical location where AWS has an Availability Zone (AZ), which is comprised of one or more data centers. The new AWS Ohio Region joins 14 other Regions and 38 AZs, including an existing US East Region, Virginia, to ensure that AWS customers on the East Coast have fast, easy access to AWS services.
The first step you’ll want to take to determine which Region is the best fit for your organization is to measure the round-trip latency of Amazon Cloud services to your location. You can do this very easily right from your browser with a tool created by Vijay Rayapati of Minjay which he named CloudWatch (not to be confused with the AWS CloudWatch monitoring service). For clarity, we will refer to Vijay’s tool as Vijay’s CloudWatch. It is an open source tool. Our engineers have created a fork of his code which includes the new Ohio Region.
What are the steps to test latency? To perform a latency test, you can visit https://flux7labs.github.io/CloudWatch/, click on the “Check Latency” button, choose the AWS service you would like to measure the ping latency for, and watch the latencies to the different Regions populate. Under the hood, the tool is using the /ping endpoints that AWS provides. Due to the effects of cold start and caching, our AWS consultants recommend you run the test at least three times and average the resulting values to identify which of the Regions is a best fit for your location.
The second consideration you’ll want to take is services offered within the region. The Ohio Region supports all sizes of C4, D2, I2, M4, R3, T2, and X1 EC2 instances; it supports Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and a wide variety of related services including Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, NAT Gateway, Spot Instances, and Dedicated Hosts. You can see a full list of supported services across Regions here.
We also found a few minor differences between Ohio and Virginia, e.g., the list of RDS MySQL versions supported in Virginia is far longer than the versions supported in Ohio; however, it is worth noting that the option in the Ohio region still covers all major versions. Another difference is the lack of EC2-Classic (and this is a good thing in our opinion). As is the case with all newer AWS Regions, instances must be launched within a Virtual Private Cloud.
If you’ve determined that the new US East (Ohio) Region is a good fit, the natural next question is if you should migrate to it. Making the decision much more binary is that AWS announced they would not charge users for moving data from the other US East Region (Virginia) to it. The hope at Amazon is that users will exercise Ohio as a way to create a highly available infrastructure that is more geographically diverse than using a single region.
While AWS designed its Regions to be isolated for greater fault tolerance, some services operate across all regions and require no migration. Specifically, AWS IAM, the AWS Management Console, and Amazon CloudWatch. Moreover, as all services are accessible using API endpoints, you do not necessarily need to migrate all components of your architecture to the new region depending on your application. Despite this, migration does take planning, and technical and process expertise and we highly recommend you have the appropriate guidance -- whether through internal or external experts -- you need to migrate your AWS Resources. As with any migration, it is important to embrace best practices like planning for fail-back and unexpected outcomes.
Migrating for More
While migrating to achieve greater responsiveness and enhance your infrastructure are definite positives, a migration can provide even greater upside if you take advantage of the opportunity. For example, at Flux7, we are working with a communications company to migrate them from the AWS West (N. California) Region to the US East (Virginia) Region. While this organization originally contacted us about migrating to the US East in order to take advantage of new AWS services like Lambda and Data Pipeline, we offered the idea that a migration could bring so much more than just access to new services.
Seeing the migration as an opportunity to introduce best practices, and create other business improvements, we are introducing to this team DevOpsSec best practices including the use of CloudFormation, Configuration management, and CI/CD. While a migration to Ohio will enhance your infrastructure, it is an opportunity to do much more. Contact us today and we’ll highlight what other opportunities and process improvements it can present to your organization as well. We are a certified AWS Migration Partner who has been awarded an AWS Migration Competency for our best practices based templates and automation to help organizations successfully migrate, manage and extend their AWS infrastructure.
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