Microsoft announces local region for Azure cloud

Sub-regions for Windows Azure based in NSW and Victoria

Microsoft is in the process of rolling out a new Australian region for its Windows Azure family of cloud services.

The software vendor announced this morning that it will offer two new subregions for the cloud, based in New South Wales and Victoria. "These two locations will be geo-redundant, offering our customers the ability to back up their data across two separate locations, both within Australia," Microsoft's Toby Bowers wrote in a blog entry announcing the expansion of the company's IaaS and PaaS services.

"We know that providing disaster recovery, while ensuring data sovereignty goals are met, is critical to many of our customers and we look forward to delivering a solution that meets those requirements."

"Microsoft's customer base is heavily on-premise, so it has a lot of customers that might be cloud averse or restricted for legal reasons or regulatory reasons from going to the cloud," Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda said.

"For in Microsoft's flagship cloud service, Azure, it's actually an expected halfway house for local customers wanting to go to the cloud but concerned about offshore data and not being used to having their apps live in a location that's far away from them," Gedda said.

"Microsoft obviously doesn't want to exclude people that want a stepping stone to pure public cloud services that are hosted in the US or Europe, so it's a logical extension of its services."

Azure previously consisted of three regions: Asia (with subregions in Hong Kong and Singapore), Europe and the United States.

Microsoft's announcement "validates the position of Australia as a forward-looking and important cloud services market within the APAC region," Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekaran said.

Another global cloud provider entering the local market will increase competition, Chandrasekaran said. Competition is set to be especially fierce in the IaaS space where, apart from price, there is only a limited number of ways for providers to differentiate themselves.

Amazon's cloud arm, Amazon Web Services, late last year launched its own Australian cloud offering, with its Sydney region comprising two availability zones – Amazon's term operationally discrete data centres.

US cloud and hosting provider Rackspace is expected to unveil its own cloud offering for Australian enterprises based on OpenStack in the near future. The company launched its first Australian data centre in August.

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