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 datacenter region. The continuous expansion of the local cloud infrastructure confirms Microsoft’s determination to invest in Switzerland and empower Swiss organizations to be more resilient, competitive, innovative and sustainable.
Azure Availability Zones form an important building block of a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery strategy by ensuring resiliency and high availability of business-critical applications and data through modernized architecture with built-in, end-to-end security. As of today, all customers are able to access Availability Zones in Switzerland North.
Expanding the proven infrastructure
These Azure Availability Zones build on the capabilities and benefits offered through Microsoft’s enterprise-grade datacenters, with presence in the Zurich and Geneva area, which were launched in 2019. Bringing Availability Zones to the Swiss region takes Microsoft one step closer to its commitment of having AZ’s in every country in which it operates the Microsoft Cloud.
“Together with our customers and partners, we have built up massive experience and expertise with our local datacenters over the past couple of years”, says 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.”
Resilient, highly available architectures for modern cloud applications and workloads
“As more and more organizations in Switzerland move to the cloud, business continuity, security and data protection have never been more critical”, says 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.” In addition to the availability zones in Switzerland North, Marc Holitscher said, highly regulated customers continue to benefit from geo-redundant disaster recovery and backup capabilities over 200 kilometers away. At the same time, they meet the local data residency requirements uniquely offered by the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland.
Continuous expansion of services in all areas of the One Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland
With Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 with Teams and Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, the Microsoft Cloud in Switzerland is the only integrated, secure and highly available cloud platform with guaranteed data residency within the Swiss national borders.
Within the last quarters, many new offerings were launched across the entire local platform such as GPUs, Microsoft Purview, Azure Confidential Computing, Azure Arc-enabled servers, SAP-optimized VMs with up to 11.4 TB memory, Data Box, Azure Archive, Azure Communication Services, Azure Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, Azure NetApp Files, and Azure Key Vault Managed HSM.
Furthermore, additional Power Platform modules went live, including Power Virtual Agents, Power Apps Portals and AI Builder, as well as Microsoft 365 modules such as Dataverse for Teams and Live Events.
Very high demand from customers and partners
The demand for the Availability Zones is very strong and numerous customers and partners are already in the process of deploying workloads in the new local Availability Zones.
QUMEA, a multi-award-winning Swiss healthtech startup, has chosen to rely on the Availability Zones of the Cloud Region Switzerland North. Their Azure-based solution, which has been deployed in places such as Spital Männedorf, University Geriatric Medicine Felix Platter and Spital Baselland, offers an effective approach for discreet and contactless patient monitoring, enabling early intervention and effective prevention. “Using a one-of-a-kind sensor and intelligent yet easy-to-use software, QUMEA continuously monitors activity and mobility of every patient and automatically calls for help, depending on the individual needs of each patient”, explains Cyrill Gyger, founder and CEO of QUMEA. “QUMEA senses human motion with unmatched sensitivity and accuracy. Maximum availability, very low latency and of course the reputation as the most trusted cloud provider when it comes to handling data are absolutely critical for our solution. We are therefore very pleased to be able to use the Availability Zones from Microsoft’s Swiss data centers with local data storage.”
Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) also relies on Azure Availability Zones. Read more about ZKB’s journey to the cloud here.
Swisscom, the biggest Microsoft partner in Switzerland, has a comprehensive portfolio of services and over 100 Azure experts to support customers of all sizes and from all industries on their way to the Microsoft Cloud. “With the introduction of the Availability Zones in Switzerland, Microsoft is reaffirming its longstanding commitment to provide customers and partners in Switzerland with a trusted, reliable and secure cloud infrastructure, says Urs Lehner, Head of Business Customers and Member of the Group Executive Board of Swisscom. “I am convinced that our customers will appreciate the increased technological resilience, availability and business continuity. Together with Microsoft, we are ready to provide customers – even the ones with very stringent requirements towards reliability – our wide range of integrated Cloud services.”
With over 4,600 local partners, Microsoft also provides the necessary regional coverage in Switzerland. Bertil Maire, Head of Business Line at ELCA Informatique SA, a nationwide Microsoft partner, is convinced that customers from all industries and of all sizes will benefit from the new offering: “Azure Availability Zones enable new high-availability workloads in Swiss Microsoft data centers. They also bring new resilience options in addition to the geographic redundancy already ensured with the two data centers in the Geneva and Zurich regions.”
Nicola Moresi, founder and CEO of Moresi.com, a long-standing partner in Ticino, agrees on the additional value of the new Availability Zones: “Our partnership with Microsoft helps us to provide our customers in Italian-speaking Switzerland with access to cutting-edge technology. Availability Zones complement Microsoft’s already strong local online services and are of great value to us and our customers.
What are Availability Zones?
Azure availability zones are physically separate datacenter locations within each Azure region that are tolerant to local failures. Failures can range from software and hardware failures to events such as earthquakes, floods, and fires. Tolerance to failures is achieved because of redundancy and logical isolation of Azure services. To ensure resiliency, a minimum of three separate availability zones are present in all availability zone-enabled regions.
Azure availability zones are connected by a high-performance network with a round-trip latency of less than 2ms. They help data stay synchronized and accessible when things go wrong. Each zone is composed of one or more datacenters equipped with independent power, cooling, and networking infrastructure. Availability zones are designed so that if one zone is affected, regional services, capacity, and high availability are supported by the remaining two zones.