US-EAST-1 Should Not Be The Default

Posted on Thursday, Sep 7, 2023 by Ned Bellavance

Featured in this episode of Tech News of the Week

When Amazon Web Services was first created, they had a single region in North Virginia, called us-east-1, and ever since that time it has been the default region used by most people getting started in AWS. It has also been the first region to receive the majority of new services, so if you’re interested in working with the cutting edge services and features sure to be announced at this year’s re:Invent, then North Virginia is the way to go.

However, if you want to make sure your cloud services are as available as possible, then you might want to look somewhere else. According to data gathered by monitoring outfit Status Gator, North Virginia is the least reliable region, with 23 outages in 2022, accounting for 61 hours of downtime; the second least reliable region is Oregon with only 5 outages and 7 hours of downtime. That’s… a significant difference.

Status Gator goes on to theorize that us-east-1 has the most customers and services, and therefore has the most potential for an outage, especially under high load. That being said, if uptime and reliability are your most important priorities, you may want to look at our neighbors to the north, with the Montreal region having 0 outages in 2022, or if you need to stay in the US, Northern California also had 0 outages. Sure you’ll be missing out on some services that you’ll likely never use, but you also won’t have to worry about S3 going down!

As a side note, AWS chose to build their regions in a highly compartmentalized fashion. While that has some downsides for inter-region deployments and management, it also means that an outage in one region is highly unlikely to impact other regions. Unlike Azure, which has several global components, like Azure AD, that can wreak havoc on the entirety of your cloud real estate, regardless of which region you chose.