Microsoft has added new availability zones to its Zürich Azure region in Switzerland.

Availability zones are physically separate data center locations within each single cloud region that offer redundancy against local failures in one location. While most new regions launch with three zones by default, some older regions launched with a single zone.

“To reinforce the commitment to providing business continuity, data protection and security in the cloud, Microsoft Switzerland is launching Azure Availability Zones in the Switzerland North data center region,” the company recently announced.

“Together with our customers and partners, we have built up massive experience and expertise with our local data centers over the past couple of years”, said Catrin Hinkel, General Manager of Microsoft Switzerland. “With the continuous investments in the local infrastructure we will empower large enterprises, SMEs, start-ups and public sector organizations to adapt to the rapid pace of change in today’s world by expanding horizons, exploring new business models, developing new markets and experimenting with new products and services for the benefit of customers.”

Microsoft launched two Swiss Azure regions in 2019; Switzerland North in Zürich and Switzerland West in Geneva.

The Geneva location seems to have been de-listed from the list of available regions, though Microsoft still acknowledged it had a data center presence in the city in its latest announcement, noting highly regulated customers "continue to benefit from geo-redundant disaster recovery and backup capabilities over 200 kilometers away."

Switzerland West may have been re-classified as a ‘reserved access region’. Microsoft has previously said such secondary locations are “optimized for disaster recovery that can support scenarios such as helping meet data residency requirements or specific risk & regulatory compliance needs for geographic isolation.”

The company has recently been adding additional availability locations in countries – including Norway and South Africa – while quietly removing secondary regions from those countries. Australia Central 2 (in Canberra, opened 2018), 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.

“As more and more organizations in Switzerland move to the cloud, business continuity, security, and data protection have never been more critical”, said Marc Holitscher, national technology officer of Microsoft Switzerland. “Essentially, Azure Availability Zones serve as an additional way for organizations in Switzerland to guarantee uptime and continuous access to critical data, applications and workloads. They significantly reduce the risk of impacting events such as infrastructure disruptions, as well as improve recovery time and recovery points – to when data was last backed up.”

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