This blog provides general information to help you understand and get started using Microsoft Azure services in Beijing and Shanghai regions in China. We will assume readers are familiar with Microsoft Azure services, and focus this blog on how the Beijing and Shanghai Regions are different from standard global regions.
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service provider for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools, and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. Azure was announced in 2008 and released in 2010, as Windows Azure before being renamed to Microsoft Azure in 2014.
On the other hand, Microsoft Azure is a physically separated instance of cloud services located in China. It’s independently operated and transacted by 21Vianet. Azure China was officially launched in 2014 and was the first international public cloud provider to bring its cloud technology to China. Azure global and Azure China provide resources and services to millions of customers worldwide.
From a business point of view, China has become a key market for many industries, as the rise of technologies and the internet, allowed more and more customers to buy and consume online products. Azure China is accessible to millions of customers in 4 regions of China (2 in Beijing and 2 in Shanghai). In order to benefit from Azure China services and facilities, you need an account.
Infrastructure in China
Microsoft Azure is operated in China by a local service provider called 21Vianet. 21Vianet is a leading internet data center service provider in China. It provides hosting and related services such as cloud services, improving the reliability and security, and speed of its internet infrastructure for the customers. 21Vianet provides high-class security for all systems and applications.
Azure China is an independent cloud that supports data residency and compliance requirements and allows you to manage, build, and deploy your applications on Azure in the Chinese region. Azure global regions and Azure China regions are physically disconnected. However, you can still connect subscriptions in Azure China and Azure global regions through composite VPN site-to-site or ExpressRoute. You connect the subscription in the Azure China region with your on-premises site and connect your on-premises site to your subscription in the Azure global region.
Microsoft Azure services are running in 4 regions in China such as China North, China North 2, China East, and China East 2. China North regions are located in Beijing while on the other hand China East regions are located in Shanghai. China North and China East were released in 2014 and China North 2 and China East 2 in 2018. The 4 regions are available and operated in China with the help of the local partner, 21Vianet.
Differences between Azure Global and Azure China
In order to get complete guidance about Microsoft Azure China, customers need to be aware of some of the differences between Microsoft Azure China and Microsoft Azure Global. When we look at the purchasing programs of both services then we will get to know that Azure Global users have various channels such as signing enterprise agreement, self-purchasing online, and purchasing through a partner to get services while on the other hand in Azure China there are just two purchasing programs such as offline contract as well as an online purchase. In addition, there is an obvious difference between Azure Global and Azure China in terms of payment options. Azure China has just one payment option that is the Pay-in-Advance model while on the other hand, Azure Global has two possible ways of payment such as Pay as You Go and Pay in Advance. The good thing about Azure China is that the users can effortlessly get access from anywhere in the world to the workloads deployed on Azure China.
In addition, there are some Azure service availability and roadmaps in China such as CDN, China Express Route, Azure Stack, and finally Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB). Azure China CDN is a service provider concern especially in the various scope where Azure doesn’t cover. Azure China Express Route gives free circuits especially in China North and China East and Azure Stack is a collection of products that spread Azure’s services operated by 21Vianet. And finally, Windows server virtual machines, AHB, and Azure SQL Database AHB are supported. Moreover, Microsoft Azure aimed to provide convenient services and access to the customers to manage workloads through the Azure Portal from anywhere around the globe. Furthermore, a service administrator has been created to manage the service deployment. Thus, one service administrator is authorized to manage services in the Azure portal. As a user, you have been given access to scrutinize the performance of the network while deploying the applications on Microsoft Azure. The performance of the network should be tested according to the Chinese standard time rather than your own standard time. Measurement and performance of the network should be tested during the rush hours so that you will get a better reflection on the concern cloud.
You can get more insights and details about the differences in the following blog post.
Networking and Connectivity
As already mentioned before, Azure global regions and Azure China regions are physically disconnected. Moreover, a hybrid cloud can extend your application in Azure China and provide global connectivity and various environments. In order to create a direct network connection between Azure Express Route and your own private cloud you need to use a virtual private network (VPN) while on the other hand, Azure Express Route does not support if you want to connect Azure China to your own premises outside China. Following requirements such as overseas IP address for the overseas VPN endpoint, VPN protocol and ports, locations of overseas IP, and owner of overseas IP need to be provided for VPN setup.
Chinese Laws and Regulatory Requirements
We see the rapid development of cloud computing technologies. Therefore, the rapid growth of online business in China needs to be dynamically adjusted accordingly. Microsoft Azure is the first international public cloud service provider that has been commercialized in China in accordance with Chinese laws and regulatory requirements. Some of the features that make this particular service provider so convenient are: Azure is well established and organized to serve not only Chinese customers but also customers around the world. Secondly, Microsoft Azure is known as the most trusted cloud for customers of all sizes of business because it’s enriched with all the required documents and certifications in accordance with the Chinese government. Thirdly, Microsoft Azure is curious enough to ensure transparency for all kinds of information stored on the cloud by the customers. Besides, Microsoft Azure always prefers to provide high-class data privacy and responsibly protect the customers’ data. Last but not least, services provided by Microsoft Azure are highly trusted, guaranteed, and reliable to serve China and global customers in various sectors and industries.
This is the official link to the Microsoft Azure documentation about the Chinese laws and regulations.
Microsoft Azure offers two possible ways of purchasing programs with the help of 21Vianet to the customers within China. The two categories of purchasing programs are online purchases and the second program is the offline enterprise contact purchase. Thus, the online purchase is administered by OSSA available to customer who wishes to purchase Microsoft Azure services operated by 21Vianet online. In this regard, Azure China processes the payment through PIA (Pay-in-Advance) model. While on the other hand, the second purchasing program of Microsoft Azure is Offline Enterprise Contract. Customers who wish to purchase the Azure services through the contractual process are required to go with OSPA the Online Service Premium Agreement. The period of this agreement is mostly for three years which has been signed between 21Vianet and local customers in China. This particular agreement works with the Direct OSPA and Indirect OSPA model. However, the offline billing method of the customers is linked with the concerned business models.
The Azure China Marketplace holds a repository for online images and services developed by ISVs from startups to enterprises, offering solutions to Azure customers in China. Through the Azure China Marketplace, ISVs can distribute and sell their virtual machine images, ARM Template and Customize Service to IT professionals and developers who want to quickly develop their cloud-based applications and solutions on Azure. It is operated by 21Vianet and completely isolated from Global Azure.
Customer Support Services
Azure China has introduced marvelous support to meet the needs of the customers. Provides dedicated support services and technical staff to ensure convenient and effective support to the customers at all sizes of enterprises. You can read more about the support plans.
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