AWS Local Zone: Perth Launch

In the last few days, the AWS Local Zone service launched in Perth.

Articles in the media are claiming this is a significant uplift:

AWS has officially opened a new cloud infrastructure region in Perth.

Kate Weber, IT News

Only problem, this is not a Region (big R) in the AWS vernacular, but a single Availability Zone, attached as an adjunct to the AWS Sydney Region (ap-southeast-2).

Media Statements and press releases are designed to excite the media, but the reality is a little more circumspect. The Local Zone does add local compute (EC2) and block storage (in the form of EBS) within Perth. However, its what many would expect that leads a local zone to be perhaps a little limiting.

First up, the compute is only certain, limited types. The same with the EBS volume types. You may be forced to use more expensive compute and storage, because the cheaper instance sizes or EBS types are not available.

Second, the costs for the Compute and Storage is more expensive than in the full Region, where economies of scale and usage patterns drive down costs. You may see up to a 50% overhead on the same 4xLarge instance type compared to Sydney.

Third, some basics like IPv6 support is not (yet?) supported. That may upset your VPC conventions.

Fourth, you may have wanted close access to managed services, like RDS (databases), or even Workspaces (desktop) and AppStream (application virtualisation). Well, that’s back in the main Region, not in the Local Zone, and at 50ms across Australia, that may be a bit too far, which means you’re back to the stone age of running databases on Instances yourself.

Fifth, being a single AZ, you wont get any multi-AZ resilience that you’re comfortable with an a full Region.

Sixth: the Local zone’s operation is tied to the designated Region: issues in ap-southeast-2 (Sydney) may impact management (control plane) or availability (data plane) of that AZ. Your CloudFormation has to execute in Sydney to stand up a stack.

In essence, a Local Zone needs to be looked at from the Well-Architected Framework perspective, and utilised accordingly.

Once you have reconciled those issues, there is the bright side: compute in cloud, managed in a uniform way, without having to deploy an Outpost and have a datacentre for the Outpost to run in.

Many organisations do want Cloud services locally, and for some high volume, low latency, idempotent, loosely coupled, edge processing, this may be perfect.

An AWS Local Zone is also a small stepping stone to perhaps being a full Region one day, as was seen in Osaka, Japan. It just takes demand to validate the point.

Its 10 years since AWS opened first its point of presence (CloudFront, Route53) in Australia, and then the Sydney Region. We’re on the cusp of a second Local zone up in Brisbane, and a second Australian Region – yes, a full Region – in Melbourne.

It’s the new Region that suddenly opens up Multi-region application architecture, which, for public sector in particular, has not been permissible for data jurisdiction purposes (even if that is just a desire and not a mandated legal requirement).

IoT Trackers and the AWS Cloud

I continued my IoT project over the recent end-of-year/Christmas break period, picking up from where I was 6 months ago.

Since then, a new firmware version had become available for the RAK Wireless RAK10700 GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) solar powered device. These devices shipped without battery (due to postal limitations), and came with firmware 1.0.4.

I failed completely last time to get these to associate with my local IoT gateway (rak7246, basically a raspberry PI in a box that bridges LoRaWAN and WiFi).

Since then, a new firmware 1.0.6 has been released.

Documentation for the RAK10700 was OK, until you get to the page that says the latest firmware is version 1.0.1; given this device already shipped with 1.0.4, I dived in deeper; the link to the firmware is, and the contents of this zip file, at the time of writing, are three files:

  • Manifest
  • WisBlock_SENS_V1.0.6_2022.
  • WisBlock_SENS_V1.0.6_2022.

Caveat Elit (developer beware): this appears to be firmware version 1.0.6.

Flashing this was interesting: the device, connected via its USB cable to my laptop, had to be reset into DFU mode, which required double-tapping the reset pin in quick succession (its located next to the USB port). Once done, the device presented as USB storage, and the adafruit-nrfutil tool could update it (check the COM port from Device Manager).

adafruit-nrfutil dfu serial --package -p COM19 -b 115200

When in DFU mode, the device turned up as a different COM port compared to when it was in its normal mode. It took me two attempts for this to be successful, and then pressing the rest button to have the device return to normal mode.

Next came the interface to AWS IoT Core for LoRaWAN. I’d previously been using the LGT-92 (now not available), but had to abandon these as no amount of protection in waterproof bags had made them durable enough to last the distance of my use case; tracking a small sail boat.

The configuration that eventually worked for me was to define a profile with MAC version 1.0.3, Regional Parameters RP002-1.01, Max EIRP 15, for AU915 frequencies (I am in Australia):

AWS IoT Core for LPWAN: Profile Configuration for RAK10700

Now with the profile defined, I can add the two Devices in, using the AppKey, DevKey, etc:

With data coming through it was now time to decide the Payload. These devices use a format called CayenneLPP to stuff as much data into as small a payload as possible. One of the first things you’ll want to do is decide the data to check it looks legitimate. Using a small Python script, I can unpack it – after doing a pip install cayennelpp:

import base64
import sys
from cayennelpp import LppFrame

for i in
  if len(i.value) == 1:
    print("Ch {}, {}: {}".format(, i.type, i.value[0]))
    print("Ch {}, {}: {}".format(, i.type, i.value))

By routing the incoming IoT messages to a Lambda function, I can now pick out the PayloadData from the event and see the string being send. Here’s what I am seeing in CloudWatch logs when I just print(event):

{'WirelessDeviceId': 'b15xxxx-xxxx-47df-8a5d-f57800c170b5', 'PayloadData': ' AXQBqwZoRwdnARQIcydWCQIG6Q==', 'WirelessMetadata': {'LoRaWAN': {'ADR': False, 'Bandwidth': 125, 'ClassB': False, 'CodeRate': '4/5', 'DataRate': '3', 'DevAddr': 'xxxxx', 'DevEui': 'xxxxx', 'FCnt': 73, 'FOptLen': 0, 'FPort': 2, 'Frequency': '917200000', 'Gateways': [{'GatewayEui': 'xxxxx930e93', 'Rssi': -31, 'Snr': 9.5}], 'MIC': 'xxxxx95b', 'MType': 'UnconfirmedDataUp', 'Major': 'LoRaWANR1', 'Modulation': 'LORA', 'PolarizationInversion': False, 'SpreadingFactor': 9, 'Timestamp': '2023-01-04T13:46:42Z'}}}

While inside, with no satellite lock, that PayloadData translates out to:

Ch 1, Voltage: 4.27
Ch 6, Humidity: 35.5
Ch 7, Temperature: 27.6
Ch 8, Barometer: 1007.0
Ch 9, Analog Input: 17.69

Now I have the two sensors, its time to get them outside, with a bit of soldering of the LiPo battery on to the right connector…