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AWS Taps Partner To Open Its Second Region in China

The second Amazon Web Services (AWS) region in China is now operational, the company announced this week.

The new Ningxia region is AWS' 17th worldwide and its seventh in the Asia Pacific area. The launch of the Ningxia region comes roughly four years after AWS debuted its first Chinese region in Beijing.

The Ningxia region currently has two availability zones, bringing the total of live AWS availability zones to 46 worldwide. In AWS' definition, a region is a single, fully isolated location that contains at least two availability zones, which in turn contain one or more datacenters. During a keynote at last month's re:Invent conference, Peter DeSantis, vice president of Global Infrastructure at AWS, explained that AWS' cloud infrastructure is built for high-availability: The availability zones in any given region are a significant distance apart and can contain at least 100,000 servers.

A notable characteristic of the new Ningxia region -- and one that it shares with the Beijing region -- is that it is operated by a third-party cloud services provider, with AWS taking more of background role. The operating partner of AWS' Ningxia region is the 2-year-old Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology (NWCD), which is based locally. In an arrangement designed to comply with Chinese regulations, NWCD will be the primary service provider of AWS solutions running out of the Ningxia region, while AWS will provide technical support on the back end.

AWS inked a similar agreement for its Beijing region, with local partner Beijing Sinnet Technology acting as the primary service operator of that region. AWS has gone so far as to sell part of its infrastructure in China to Sinnet last month to better comply with local regulations.

As AWS explained in its announcement Monday, "While the cloud services offered in both AWS China Regions are the same as those available in other AWS Regions, the AWS China Regions are isolated from all other AWS Regions and operated by AWS's Chinese partners separately from all other AWS Regions. Customers using the AWS China Regions enter into customer agreements with Sinnet in Beijing and NWCD in Ningxia, rather than with AWS."

Recently passed cybersecurity legislation in China has forced cloud megavendors like AWS to re-strategize their operations in the country. According to the new laws, cloud operators must keep data obtained inside China stored on servers within the country. The laws also require companies to submit to any requests by Chinese authorities to access data or to audit their IT operations to make sure they're in compliance with the laws.

AWS currently has plans to open five more regions around the world over the next two years, including its first Middle East region in Bahrain in 2019. Other upcoming regions include Paris, Hong Kong, Stockholm and a second GovCloud region in the U.S. east coast.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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