AWS

How many Data Center Regions by Vendor?

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There has been some discussions over the past weeks, months, years on which Cloud provider is the best, or the biggest, or provides the most services, or [insert some other topic]? The old answer to everything related to IT is ‘It Depends’. A recent article by CloudWars (and updated numbers by them) and some of the comments to it, and elsewhere prompted me to have a look at ‘How Many Data Center Regions do each Cloud Vendor have?’ I didn’t go looking at all possible cloud vendors, but instead kept to the main vendors consisting of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Oracle Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS). We know AWS has been around for a long long time, and seems to gather most of the attention and focus within the developer community, etc, you’d expect them to be the biggest. Well, the results from my investigation does not support this.

Now, it is important to remember when reading the results presented below that these are from a particular point in time, and that is the date of this blog post. If you are reading this some time later, the actual number of data centers will be different and will be larger.

When looking at the data, as presented on each vendors website (see link to each vendor below), most list some locations coming in the future. It’s really impressive to see the number of “coming soon” locations. These “coming soon” locations are not included below (as of blog post date).

Before showing a breakdown for each vendor the following table gives the total number of data center regions for each vendor.

The numbers presented in the above table are different to does presented in the original CloudWars article or their updated numbers. If you look at the comments on that article and the comments on LinkedIn, you will see there was some disagreement of on their numbers. The problem is a data quality one, and vendors presenting their list of data centers in different parts of their website and documentation. Data quality and consistency is always a challenge, and particularly so when publishing data on vendor blogs, documentation and various websites. Indeed, the data I present in this post will be out of date within a few days/weeks. I’ve also excluded locations marked as ‘coming soon’ (see Azure listing).

Looking at the numbers in the above table can be a little surprising, particularly if you look at AWS, and then look at the difference in numbers between AWS and Azure and even Oracle. Very soon Azure will have double the number of data center regions when compared to AWS.

What do these numbers tell you? Based on just these numbers it would appear that Azure and Oracle Cloud are BIG cloud providers, and are much bigger than AWS. But maybe AWS has data centers that are way way bigger than those two vendors. It can be a little challenging to know the size and scale of each data center. Maybe they are going after different types of customers? With the roll out of Cloud over the past few years, there has been numerous challenges from legal and sovereign related issues requiring data to be geographically located within a country or geographic region. Most of these restrictions apply to larger organizations in the financial, insurance, and government related, etc. Given the historical customer base of Microsoft and Oracle, maybe this is driving their number of data center regions.

In more recent times there has been a growing interest, and in some sectors a growing need for organizations to be multi-cloud. Given the number of data center regions, for Azure and Oracle, and commonality in their geographic locations, it isn’t surprising to see the recent announcement from Azure and Oracle of their interconnect agreement and making the Oracle Database Service available (via interconnect) from Azure. I’m sure we will see more services being shared between these two vendors, and other might join in doing something similar.

Let’s get back to the numbers and data for each Vendor. I’ve also included a link to the Vendor website where these data was obtained. (just remember these are based on date of blog post)

Microsoft Azure

When you look at the Azure website listing the location, at first look it might appear they have many more locations. When you look closer at these, some/many of them are listed as ‘coming soon’. These ‘coming soon’ locations are not included in the above and below tables.

Oracle Cloud

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

GCP doesn’t list and Government data center regions.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Oracle on AWS costs

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In a previous post I walked through the steps of setting up an Oracle Database on AWS RDS. It was a very simple and straight forward process. The only thing to watch out for was to open the network to allow traffic in and out. I also showed how to connect SQL Developer to that database.

I’ve been using it for a few days and needed to move onto other things for a few days. I could leave the Database up and running during this period or I could shut down the Database to save a few dollars/euro. It also gave me a chance to see how much this database cloud instance is costing me. In my previous post, it was estimated to cost about 0.89c per day.

Before we look at the Actual/Real costs, let’s walk through the steps of shutting down the database.

To stop the database, click on the Actions button on the top right hand side of the screen, just above the database summary details. You will get a confirmation window/box appearing, see image below, asking you to confirm by clicking ‘Yes, Stop Now’.

It will take a few minutes for this shutdown to complete and in my case it took approx. 8 minutes, which was a little surprising as no one was using it at the time. You might need to refresh the webpage to see this change.

That’s all very simple, but it does give you a warning about the stopped database instance. It will be restarted in 7 days time! So if this is a database you will occasionally use, then you will need to carefully manage this particular feature, otherwise you will end up with the database automatically starting and you will be paying for this.

What about the Costs?

The costs for running this service can be found in the AWS Cost Management page. Here we can see the database was running for 7 and a bit days before I shut it down, and we can see the daily cost was 0.82c. Two things note about these costs. There was larger cost for the first day. Most of this cost was associated with the setup and configuration of the database service. The second thing to note is the costs listed in this console do not include taxes.

A got the bill for this usage, and it came to $6.94, consisting of $5.64 for usage (approx. 75c per day) and $1.30 in taxes/vat. Not a lot considering some cloud services, but comes out at approx 92.5c per day, which is a little more than the estimated cost when the service was being created. A small example of what can happen between the “in theory” cost of cloud versus the actual costs.

AWS RDS Oracle setup

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There are lots of options available to you for creating and using an Oracle Database.

One of these options is to use AWS RDS services to create and host a Database.

Warning: Using AWS is a paid service and the RDS options are available based on the size of the server you pick.  The example show in below will cost approx 89c per day or $27 per month. For this the database will be running 24×7. You could reduce this cost significantly by only starting/stopping the Database when you need it, or alternatively create an AWS lamda function service to start/stop.

First thing you need to do is go create an AWS account, and yes you will need to hand over your credit card number.

After creating your account and you have logged in, search for RDS and you will get the following display. Click on the orange button at the top of the page to Create Database.

Then select

  • Standard create
  • Oracle
  • Architecture settings -> Use multitenant architecture
  • Oracle Enterprise Edition
  • Version -> use the drop down and select latest version (in my case 21)
  • Templates -> Dev/Test
  • Instance Identifier -> database-1
  • Master Username -> admin
  • Master password -> <set password> and confirm it
  • DB Instance Class – as we only want a DB for playing with, go with the cheapest -> db.t3.small (Hint: Scroll to bottom of page to see the estimated monthly costs)
  • Storage type -> General Purpose SSD. If you change this to Magnetic, you will see the cost drop by approx $2 per month. I selected General Purpose SSD
  • Allocated Storage -> I set this to 20G (it’s just a small play DB)
  • Disable/un-tick – Entable Storage Autoscaling
  • Select defaults for VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) – see notes later on opening this to allow connection from your computer.
  • Public Access – Set to Yes
  • Defaults for remaining options.

[Note: You might be prompted to enter a DB Name. Keep this short, with no special characters.]

Click on ‘Create Database’ button at bottom of screen to create the database. It can take anything from a couple of minutes to 30 minutes to create the Database.

When everything is create, and you try to connect to the Database using SQL Developer, you will not be able to connect. The VPC needs to be opened to outside traffic. Click on the VPC Security Groups link, then click on the Security Group link on the next page

Then click on the ‘Edit Inbound rules’ button, and then on the ‘Add Rule’ button (bottom left) to add a new rule. Then select ‘All Traffic’ from drop down, and 0.0.0.0/0 in the Source field. Then save the rules.

You are now ready to create a connection using SQL Developer. To do this you will need database Endpoint from the RDS dashboard. You will also need the DB Name. This can be found by clicking on the ‘Configuration’ tab, and is listed on left-hand side under DB Name

Now in SQL Developer enter those details and click Test button to see if the connection works. It should! but if it doesn’t then double check the username and password, the other details entered, and the network changes made above are correct.

You can now connect and start using the Database.

Warning: You will be connecting as the ADMIN for the Database. You should never use this account for any development work. So go create a new database user/schema and use it for all your work.