The building blocks of Azure

Let’s take a closer look at how the different elements of cloud infrastructure collectively pave the path of your data in the cloud.

When your workloads run on Azure, data may travel near or far—but that journey always starts in an Azure geography and hits some common points along the way.

Datacenters help connect and empower our daily lives

Hundreds of Azure datacenters store and manage data around the world.

Azure datacenters are unique physical buildings located all over the globe that house a group of networked computer servers, each equipped with independent power, cooling, and networking.

Datacenter regions are accessible across the world

With more global regions than any other cloud provider, Azure gives customers the flexibility to deploy applications where they need.

A region is a set of datacenters deployed within a latency-defined perimeter and connected through a dedicated regional low-latency network. While solution suites Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 deploy in geographies, Azure itself deploys in regions, each with distinct pricing and service availability.

Availability Zones provide resiliency and options for high availability

Availability Zones protect your applications and data from datacenter failures.

Azure Availability Zones, which are made up of a minimum of three zones, allow customers to spread their infrastructure and applications across discrete and dispersed datacenters for added resiliency, high availability, and the confidence that data traversing between Availability Zones is always encrypted.

We use more than 30 viability and risk-based criteria to evaluate the placement of each of the three Availability Zones to identify both significant individual risk as well as collective and shared risk between Availability Zones—without compromising the latency perimeter of less than two milliseconds.

Azure Edge Zones let you meet customers where they are

Extending through Edge Zones means better delivery of latency-sensitive services in densely populated cities.

Edge Zones are small-footprint extensions of Azure placed in population centers that are far from Azure regions. Azure public MEC (multi-access edge compute) integrates Azure compute and services with mobile operator 5G connectivity for low-latency applications at the operator edge. Azure public MEC supports virtual machines (VMs), containers, and a selected set of Azure services that let you run latency-sensitive and throughput-intensive applications close to end users.

Geographies support your data, wherever it lives

An Azure geography is a distinct market, typically containing one or more regions.

Geographies allow customers with specific data residency (where data is stored and processed) and compliance needs to keep their data and applications close. Through their connection to our dedicated high-capacity networking infrastructure, geographies are fault-tolerant to withstand complete region failure.

When you explore the globe, select the white diamond icons to view details for major geographies, including associated regions, highlights, and updates.

All of this is connected with a low-latency network around the world.

Network points-of-presence (PoPs) optimize network performance for Azure cloud services.

To route services the fastest way possible, these local access points to and from the vast Microsoft global network typically operate at very fast latency within highly dense economic and population centers.

The Microsoft global wide-area network (WAN) unites networking, security, and routing functionalities in a single interface.

Connecting hundreds of datacenters in regions around the world, the Microsoft WAN responds to unpredictable demand spikes and offers high availability and capacity.

Azure Orbital ground stations connect satellites to the earth.

Extend the utility of Azure capabilities through the power of space infrastructure. This network of terrestrial locations communicates and ingests data from satellites for processing, routing, and storage across the Azure infrastructure.

Satellites communicate with Azure Orbital ground stations from three different levels of orbit, providing extended utility of Azure capabilities.

LEO: Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites orbit the Earth at incredible speeds, often completing a full rotation of the Earth in under an hour. LEO satellites offer the lowest latency solutions for transmitting data to Azure Orbital ground stations.

MEO: Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites orbit at a velocity slightly faster than the Earth’s rotation, taking about four to eight hours to complete a rotation around the globe. MEO satellites deliver higher latency than LEO satellites but offer fiber-equivalent performance for data transmission.

GEO: Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellites move at the same velocity as the Earth, enabling them to provide coverage over specific areas. GEO satellites take about 24 hours to complete a rotation of the Earth and have the highest latency of data communication with ground stations. These satellites can transmit data to the satellites in lower orbiting levels and to Azure Orbital ground stations.

The elements of cloud infrastructure

The building blocks of Azure make up a global infrastructure that supports your data, near or far. This infrastructure, from a single datacenter to a geography, is accessible wherever you are.