Microsoft announced last week that it will be expanding its Azure cloud services into two new Australian regions. The two new datacentres, based in Canberra, will deepen the company’s footprint down under, joining existing facilities in New South Wales (Australia East) and Victoria (Australia Southeast).
Data centres will handle Unclassified and Protected government data
As pub quiz enthusiasts could tell you Canberra, not the more populous Sydney, is the capital city of Australia and also the seat of government. The data centres are being built with security in mind and Microsoft says it will be the only cloud service provider in the country built to store and process government data designated as Unclassified and Protected. Protected refers to the first level of sensitive national security classified data in Australia.
James Kavanagh, the lead engineer for Microsoft Azure in Australia, told news.com.au: “We’re building cloud platforms close to where the data is. By building our cloud infrastructure in the data centre where most government data already lives we can really unlock some of that data and innovate on top of it.”
This government-focused service will be delivered via a strategic partnership with Canberra Data Centres (CDC). The Australian company is one of the most preeminent Australian data centre providers in the country and its own Canberra data centres are the only private facilities with the appropriate clearance and security measures to handle the top tier of secret government data.
Greg Boorer, the CEO and founder of CDC, said: “We have some of the strongest privacy and data laws in the world.”
He added that the data handled by CDC’s existing facilities is “isolated and protected in a different way to the data that will enter this platform”, referring to the new venture with Microsoft.
Government, healthcare and education already adopting Azure
Tom Keane, head of Global Infrastructure at Microsoft Azure, said in a blog post that the Australian public sector had already proven to be fast adopters of Azure’s services from the existing facilities in Sydney, New South Wales and Melbourne, Victoria.
He listed a few of the innovation stories within the sector that were, he said, enabled by Azure. These included applications used by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in border protection and Victoria’s Bendigo hospital, which is using Azure to build the first ‘hospital-in-the-cloud’. This involves “connecting and analysing healthcare data to better care for patients”.
The two new regions are expected to come online in the first half of 2018 and will take the total number of Azure regions across the world to 42, more than any other cloud service provider. Azure are not the only players with their eyes on the region however. Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the opening of its Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region as far back as 2012, while Google and IBM have opened their own facilities around Sydney more recently. Australia’s overseas connections are also due to get a boost due to the addition of a number of new undersea cables including the Google-backed Indigo cable.