Which Azure datacentre should you use for your South African sites and apps?

Azure datacentre

Recently the team at Maxxor had to decide which Azure datacentre to use for a new mobile app project. This was a very important decision as the choice would determine the speed at which the app would work.

There are two important things that one needs to look at concerning the choice of an appropriate datacentre. One of these is latency. To explain it simply, it is the time that elapses between when a network request is made and when that request elicits a response. This is not happening at the application level but at the network level. The greater the latency, the longer an action will take to happen. Thus, if your latency is too high there will be a lag or delay between the app requesting data and when that data starts flowing to the app.

The second important issue to consider is throughput. Throughput is the rate at which date or messages are successfully delivered over a network. This throughput is measured in bits per second (bit/s or bps). The higher the throughput, the higher the server’s response time to user requests (which is always a good thing).

If the app was going to be used in a specific region and that had its own Azure datacentre then we would use that. In this case the app was meant to be used in South Africa. Unfortunately, there are no Azure datacentres in South African or even anywhere else in Africa, for that matter. So we decided to test the latency and throughput to all the other datacentres and then choose the one which had the lowest latency and highest throughput to South Africa.

South African websites

To test the throughput to each Azure datacentre, we created websites in each datacentre and then tested the speed at which we could download a single page from that site from various locations in SA. The results are below (numbers are in KB/s).


From a South African datacenter to… Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5 Average
West US 73.30 74.40 74.20 74.30 74.20 74.08
North Europe 132.00 132.00 132.00 132.00 132.00 132.00
North Central US 85.20 88.50 89.50 88.90 88.90 88.20
East Asia 46.90 46.20 47.40 47.10 48.10 47.14
East US 94.90 95.10 93.60 94.60 94.80 94.60
From behind an ADSL line to… Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5 Average
West US 69.60 70.50 69.60 70.00 70.40 70.02
North Europe 121.00 121.00 119.00 117.00 108.00 117.20
North Central US 82.90 81.70 83.20 83.40 82.20 82.68
East Asia 46.60 44.60 45.60 46.00 45.70 45.70
East US 86.80 87.40 88.60 88.40 88.50 87.94
Overall Averages
West US 72.05
North Europe 124.60
North Central US 85.44
East Asia 46.42
East US 91.27


The North Europe Azure datacenter seems to have the best thoughput and latency to/from South Africa. That is therefore the best Azure datacentres to use when creating a site for South Africa users. The full list in order of best performances overall is:

  • North Europe
  • East United States
  • North Central United States
  • West United States
  • East Asia