Microsoft has added Availability Zones to Cloud regions in South Africa and South Korea, while seemingly de-listed a second region in South Africa.

The company expanded its South Africa North and Korea Central Cloud regions to each include three Availability Zones.

Seoul City skyline at night
– Thinkstock / Sean Pavone

Regions are often launched with three Availability Zones; three physically separated locations or “zones” within a single region to provide greater redundancy and availability. Some, however, launch with a single zone and are expanded later.

Microsoft launched two regions in South Korea – the Central region in Seoul and the South region in Busan – in 2017. Seoul now has three Availability Zones while Busan only has one available zone.

The company’s Johannesburg region in South Africa also has three Availability Zones, but the company has seemingly de-listed the previously available Cape Town region known as South Africa West.

Microsoft opened Azure regions in both Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2019. The Cape Town region was removed at the start of 2021 and may have been re-classified as a ‘reserved access region’. DCD has messaged Microsoft’s media contact for clarification.

Microsoft recently launched Availability Zones in its Norway East Azure Cloud region in Oslo, but also de-listed its Norway West region in Stavanger.

Microsoft first announced plans to to open two Norwegian Azure Cloud regions in 2018 and opened the two in 2019. The Stavanger region was removed from its infrastructure maps in March. Microsoft told DCD the Norway West region is a "secondary reserved access region optimized for disaster recovery."

"Norway East is our primary data center region in Norway and offers the most capabilities and services, including Availability Zones," the company told DCD.

"Norway West is our secondary region optimized for disaster recovery that can support scenarios such as helping meet data residency requirements or specific risk & regulatory compliance needs for geographic isolation. Customers can request access to these reserved access regions by following these steps: Azure region access request process - Azure | Microsoft Docs."

Australia Central 2 (in Canberra, opened 2018), Switzerland West (Geneva, opened 2019), UAE Central (Abu Dhabi, opened 2019), and Germany North (Public) Northeast (Sovereign) and Central (Sovereign) all seem to have been de-listed from the list of available regions.

DCD reached out for more information about reserved access regions.

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