At MIX 09, we are announcing that we’ll be launching a set of ‘geo’-related features. We’ll be rolling out the features to all our users very soon. In Microsoft-speak, we are ‘super-excited’ about this since we can finally unveil in public what we’ve been working on for the past several months.  Before I talk about what exactly we are releasing, I wanted to explain *why* we’re doing this.

Why are we doing this?

  • Performance — We heard loud and clear that our users wanted to have more choice on where the data is placed so that they could get it as close to their end users as possible and reduce network latency. We also saw how important it was for us to ensure that code and data are as close together as possible (more on that later).
  • Legal/regulatory reasons — Several users had requirements on where they can place their code and data and where they cannot.
  • Business continuity/backup — Users wanted locations geographically spread. You can now make copies of your data across locations so in case of a natural disaster or if the Cloverfield monster came and stomped on one of our datacenters, your data would be safe

What are we announcing ?

We are announcing a few major things.

  • First, we are now present in two geographic locations rather than one. Previously, we had a presence only in north western United States and we now have a presence in the south. Going forward, we plan on expanding our presence to more locations, especially outside the U.S
  • Users will have the ability to pick where they want to host their sevices and/or their data between these two geo locations (and more in the future). For example, when you create a storage account, you can choose where to host it based on your business needs and the storage systems will do some magic behind the covers to route requests to your data. The same holds true for creating a hosted service account and running code. Both geo-locations support all features of Windows Azure. If you don’t have specific requirements on where you want your code/data, you can choose ‘US- Any’ and we’ll pick a location for you.
  • User can create ‘affinity groups’ to put their storage account and/or hosted services in. This goes to what I said about putting code and data as close to each other as possible. Accounts inside an affinity group will be dealt with as one unit and placed together for connectivity. For example, if you create an affinity group placed in North Western United States and place multiple storage accounts and hosted services in there, we’ll allocate these together in that geographical region, so that all of the accounts will be close together from a network perspective

We plan on expanding our presence to more than just two geo-locations. We’d love to hear your feedback on what we’re shipping and what you would like to see. You can leave a comment or contact us through the link on the side. We are pretty excited about what we are shipping. Please do try our features out once we’ve finished rolling them out and tell us what you think!

Sriram Krishnan
Program Manager