Multi-region web app with private connectivity to a database

App Service
Private Link
SQL Database
Web Apps

This example scenario discusses a highly available solution for a web app with private connectivity to an SQL database. A single-region architecture already exists for a web app with private database connectivity. This solution extends that base architecture by making it highly available.

See Web app private connectivity to Azure SQL Database for information on the base architecture.

Architecture

Architecture diagram showing how traffic flows from a web app to a database on a private connection. Routes for multiple failover scenarios are visible.

The diagram contains two vertically aligned boxes, one for a primary region and one for a secondary region. Each box contains a web app icon, a box for a virtual network, and a database icon. Outside the boxes on the left, a cloud represents the internet. Arrows point from that cloud through a Front Door and then into the web app in each box. The arrow leading into the secondary region box is dashed. Inside each box, arrows connect the web app, the virtual network, and the database. More arrows cross from the virtual network in each region into the database in the other region. All arrows that end in the secondary database are dashed. Outside each box on the right, a cloud represents the internet. A red arrow that is marked with a letter x points from each cloud to the database in its region. An arrow with points on both ends that is labeled Database Geo-replication connects the two databases. An arrow with points on both ends that is labeled Virtual Network Peering connects the two networks. An icon for a private DNS zone is located at the top of the diagram.

Download a Visio file of this architecture.

General case

In the general case, the traffic flow and basic configuration look like the single-region version.

Dataflow

  1. Azure Web Application Firewall rules are evaluated.
  2. Azure Front Door routes requests from the internet to a web app.
  3. By using Azure App Service regional VNet Integration, the web app connects to a delegated subnet named AppSvcSubnet in Azure Virtual Network.
  4. Azure Private Link sets up a private endpoint for the Azure SQL Database in a virtual network subnet named PrivateLinkSubnet. The web app connects to this private endpoint.
  5. The database firewall only lets in traffic coming from the PrivateLinkSubnet private endpoint.
  6. The database is inaccessible from the public internet. Only components inside or connected to the virtual network can reach the database.

Configuration

For the web app to work with Azure DNS private zones, this architecture uses App Service VNet Integration. When the web app and database run in the same region, the configuration is straightforward. For cross-region private connectivity, the web app can reach the database in the other region by setting up global peering between the virtual networks. When the primary database fails over to the secondary region, the web app in the primary region can still reach the private endpoint of the secondary database in the peered network.

Specific cases

The following cases result when specific databases and web apps are active.

In all scenarios, the web app connects to the currently active database over a fully private connection without requiring a configuration change. In both regions, the web app uses a connection string that includes a Server host name. That host name refers to the DNS name of the SQL failover group. An example is:

Server=tcp:sql-failovergroup.database.windows.net,1433;Initial Catalog=...

Since both regions use the same connection string, you don't need to change that string when a database fails over.

Primary database is active

Since this architecture uses a SQL failover group, when the primary database is active:

  • The DNS name sql-failovergroup.database.windows.net resolves to the host name of the currently active database, sql-primary.database.windows.net.
  • The database has private endpoints turned on, so the DNS name sql-primary.database.windows.net resolves to sql-primary.privatelink.database.windows.net.
  • The privatelink.database.windows.net private DNS zone is linked to the virtual networks, so that DNS lookups resolve to the private IP address of the primary database, which is 10.1.1.4.

Summary of DNS resolution:

sql-failovergroup.database.windows.net => sql-primary.database.windows.net => sql-primary.privatelink.database.windows.net => 10.1.1.4

Primary web app is active

In this case:

  • Internet requests arrive at the primary web app (1).
  • The web app connects to the primary AppSvcSubnet subnet (2).
  • The web app connects to the private endpoint of the primary database (3).
  • The app and database run in the same region (4).
Secondary web app is active

The secondary web app is active in either of these cases:

  • The primary web app fails over the secondary region.
  • Front Door routes traffic to both regions simultaneously in an active-active configuration.

When the secondary web app is active:

  • Internet requests arrive at the secondary web app (1*).
  • The web app connects to the secondary AppSvcSubnet subnet (2*).
  • The web app connects to the private endpoint of the primary database (3*). The global peering of the virtual networks makes that endpoint available from the secondary region. The cross-region traffic results in increased latency.
  • The app connects to the database in a different region (4).

Secondary database is active

When the primary database fails over:

  • The SQL failover group's DNS record changes. The DNS name sql-failovergroup.database.windows.net resolves to the newly active database in the secondary region, sql-secondary.database.windows.net.
  • Since the secondary database has private endpoints turned on, the DNS name sql-secondary.database.windows.net resolves to sql-secondary.privatelink.database.windows.net.
  • The privatelink.database.windows.net private DNS zone is linked to the virtual networks, so that DNS lookups resolve to the private IP address of the secondary database, which is 10.2.1.4.

Summary of DNS resolution:

sql-failovergroup.database.windows.net => sql-secondary.database.windows.net => sql-secondary.privatelink.database.windows.net => 10.2.1.4

Primary web app is active

In this case:

  • Internet requests arrive at the primary web app (1).
  • The web app connects to the primary AppSvcSubnet subnet (2).
  • The web app connects to the private endpoint of the secondary database (3**). The global peering of the virtual networks makes that endpoint available from the primary region. The cross-region traffic results in increased latency.
  • The app connects to the database in a different region (4*).
Secondary web app is active

In this case:

  • Internet requests arrive at the secondary web app (1*).
  • The web app connects to the secondary AppSvcSubnet subnet (2*).
  • The web app connects to the private endpoint of the secondary database (3***).
  • The app and database run in the same region (4*).

Components

  • App Service and its Web Apps feature provide a framework for building, deploying, and scaling web apps. The App Service platform offers built-in infrastructure maintenance, security patching, and scaling.

  • App Service VNet Integration connects apps to Azure resources. If you use Virtual Network to set up a non-internet-routable network, the VNet Integration feature gives apps access to resources in that network. The regional variation of VNet Integration works with virtual networks in the same region as the app.

  • An Azure DNS private zone contains records that you can't resolve from the internet. DNS resolution only works from virtual networks that are linked to the private zone.

  • Azure Private Endpoint is a network interface that connects privately and securely to a service that Private Link powers.

  • Private Link provides a private endpoint in a virtual network. You can use the private endpoint to connect to Azure PaaS services like Azure Storage and SQL Database or to customer or partner services.

  • SQL Database is a general-purpose relational database managed service that supports relational data, spatial data, JSON, and XML.

  • Azure Front Door is a global, scalable entry-point that uses the Microsoft global edge network to create fast, secure, and widely scalable web applications. With Front Door, you can transform your global consumer and enterprise applications into robust, high-performing personalized modern applications with contents that reach a global audience through Azure.

  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) on Azure Front Door defends against common exploits and vulnerabilities such as SQL injection. Azure Front Door Premium tier integrates with Web Application Firewall premium tier which supports Managed Rules.

  • Virtual Network is the fundamental building block for private networks in Azure. Azure resources like virtual machines (VMs) can securely communicate with each other, the internet, and on-premises networks through Virtual Network.

Alternatives

  • In general, the alternatives that are appropriate for the single-region version also apply to this solution.

  • Instead of using a partial region failover, you can use a complete region failover. As Highly available multi-region web application explains, when a single component fails with this approach, the architecture fails over the entire region. For example, an issue in the primary region web app can trigger a database failover. Azure Front Door or Traffic Manager then shifts all traffic to the app in the secondary region.

    A complete region failover requires no cross-region connectivity. Instead, you treat your entire solution as an isolated deployment stamp that moves from one region to another as one unit. But this approach has disadvantages. Triggering a database failover can cause data loss because of the asynchronous nature of database replication. This loss can occur even when the database has no issues.

  • As with the single-region version, this approach isn't limited to SQL Database. You can also use this scenario with any service that supports a Private Endpoint for inbound connectivity. Examples include:

    • Azure Storage
    • Azure Cosmos DB
    • Azure Cognitive Search
    • Azure Event Grid
    • Function Apps
    • Other web apps

Scenario details

To offer high availability, this solution:

You can achieve high availability with a complete region failover. However, this solution uses a partial region failover. With this approach, only components with issues fail over:

  • If the primary database fails over, the web app in the primary region connects to the newly activated secondary database while maintaining private connectivity.
  • If the app goes down in the primary region, the instance in the secondary region takes over. That instance connects to the primary database, which is still active.

Potential use cases

With private connectivity to an SQL database and high availability, this solution has applications in many areas. Examples include the financial, healthcare, and defense industries.

Considerations

In general, the considerations that apply to the single-region version also apply to this solution. Keep the following points in mind, too.

Availability

This approach achieves a higher availability than a single-region deployment does.

From the point of view of the web app, you can use this architecture in either an active-passive configuration or an active-active configuration. With an active-active approach, Front Door routes traffic to both regions simultaneously.

Performance

A partial region failover involves cross-region connectivity, which increases latency. Instead of staying within a single region, app requests to the database cross the Azure network backbone into a remote Azure region.

Some implementations can temporarily tolerate this behavior. After the failed app or database is restored, connectivity returns to normal inside a single region. However, in environments with strict latency requirements, even short-lived cross-region connectivity may pose a problem.

Security

As with the single-region scenario, the web apps in this solution use fully private connections to securely connect to both backend databases. The public internet can't access either of the database servers. This type of setup eliminates a common attack vector. Secure connections, combined with WAF integration ensures all requests are inspected for common exploits at the edge.

Cost optimization

Deploy this scenario

Follow these steps to deploy this scenario:

  1. Deploy the two regions separately by following the steps in the single-region version. But note the following points:

    • Ensure to choose non-overlapping IP address ranges for the virtual networks in both regions, otherwise you cannot enable peering.

    • Only create the logical SQL Server in the secondary region. Don't create the SQL Database itself. The process of setting up the SQL failover group automatically creates and replicates the secondary database.

  2. Create the SQL failover group. This step replicates the database across the two regions. Ensure the application uses the failover group DNS name in its connection string.

  3. Set up global peering between the two virtual networks. This step enables cross-region connectivity.

At this point:

  • The apps in both regions should connect to both databases over their private endpoints.
  • Both apps should continue to function even if the database fails over to the other region.

Contributors

This article is maintained by Microsoft. It was originally written by the following contributors.

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