Microsoft to extend Windows Azure datacentre to Australia

In selling Microsoft cloud solutions a very common question I hear is “when is Microsoft building a datacentre in Australia”? To date I have not been able to answer the question, however this is no longer the case. Earlier today Microsoft announced that it will be bringing its Windows Azure services to Australian soil by way of a new datacentre.

By doing this Microsoft aids what is a somewhat a cloud-averse country by localising data and offering many more services within our borders.

When I say that Australia is somewhat cloud-averse this does not mean that we as a country are not adopting the cloud by any stretch – in fact the contrary. Microsoft solutions like Office 365 have in excess of ten thousand customers in Australia and growing rapidly. Cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, Rackspace and others are also experiencing a boom in that the logical choice now for new infrastructure and solutions is to look at the cloud first.

This approach however is not necessarily adopted by all industries, nor is it applicable for all workloads.

Having been running a cloud engineering firm Paradyne for over 3 years I have come across many objections to moving with Office 365 or other solutions due to the datacentre being outside of the country. There were two primary reasons for this:
– data sovereignty / residency
– latency

For some customers we have had to split their cloud workloads between offshore services such as Office 365 and local hosting providers. For those customers they have ended up between a mixture of Exchange Online and Lync Online, with SharePoint hosted on an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. This is a common scenario I see when working with Telstra customers as it allows the organisation to keep the critical data in-house, while allowing more transactional solutions such as email and IM to be operated out of Australia’s closest Microsoft datacentres in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Going beyond SaaS and IaaS, Windows Azure provides organisations the capability for Big Data solutions – except in the case where that data is sensitive either from a commercial or privacy point of view and is not allowed to leave Australian shores.

Recently Rackspace and Amazon have made inroads to Australia, so what does a local Windows Azure datacentre mean? Far more than just IaaS and hosted applications.

By opening a Windows Azure datacentre in Australia Microsoft opens the doors for local organisations to be free of the last barriers preventing cloud adoption or moving to a Microsoft cloud platform. Australian customers will soon be able to subscribe to Windows Azure services such as:

  • websites
  • IaaS
  • mobile services
  • cloud applications
  • Big Data
  • media streaming
  • storage
  • SQL databases
  • server backups
  • disaster recovery
  • content distribution
  • identity management
  • geo-replication
  • and more to come in the future

While some may not be satisfied that Office 365 is not hosted in Australia yet – this is not ruled out as an option as Microsoft has indicated previously that they plan to build Office 365 on top of Windows Azure. This is already somewhat true with the availability of Windows Azure Active Directory being the identity management solution that powers Office 365.

Realistically the options are endless with Windows Azure, and having them available locally in Australia means that local organisations and business don’t have to reach as far to harness the power of the cloud.

Also published on Medium.

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