By PowerBuy // 14 November 2014 // Related Categories: Tips

Big changes in the Australian Cloud scene

Microsoft recently launched two Australian datacentres as part of its Azure cloud computing platform during its TechEd event in Sydney. This is big because it introduces more Cloud choice and possibly lower cloud costs for Australian businesses.

Cloud basics

At its simplest, “cloud computing” means your files, data, web apps, website or online service are hosted through someone else’s datacentre, rather than on a server in the back room of your own office. You may use Cloud to host a virtual server, a website\intrant, cloud storage, back-up or a higher-level web or mobile app (e.g. Office 365).

Historically, the answer has been to make sure you have computing power and internet bandwidth to handle your peak load. But this has meant a lot of extra unused capacity and costs off-peak. Cloud computing services mean that you pay for your peak usage when you need it, and off-peak, you pay for what you use. In other words, you don’t need to pay to have that peak level capacity 24/7. Depending on your business, this can lead to huge cost savings.

The big Cloud players are now here

For years Australian businesses looking for a local Cloud provider would have a large range of small and mid-sized Cloud providers to choose from. Scott Guthrie, the executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and services group, has predicted the cloud platform marketplace will soon shrink to three key players in Amazon AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure. A bold prediction maybe, but consolidation is definitely on the cards.

In other words, Guthrie believes these three global giants will develop the scale necessary to maintain large datacentres with enough resources to scale on demand in a number of countries. Most other “higher level” cloud service providers will eventually, in turn, offer their services on these platforms. To give you an idea of scale, each datacentre in Microsoft’s Australian Azure platform is the same size as a rugby field and can hold 600,000 servers – or two jumbo jets.

Data Sovereignty & Speed – expect the best

For years we have not had the luxury of choosing to host our data in Australia (via the big Cloud players) and this resulted in data sovereignty and latency (speed) concerns. For example, hosting data in the US opens you up to the possibility that the US government can access your data under the US Patriot Act.

It is important for speed and latency to make sure your cloud provider has their datacentre close to where your staff and customers are. More than a year ago Amazon Web Services gave customers the option to pay a little more for a local virtual server, and Microsoft have just announced that their new Azure’s datacentres are in Melbourne and Sydney.

But beware – Cloud is not plug-and-play

Just like setting up your own server in-house, spinning up a virtual server on one of the major Cloud platforms is not straight forward. You need to engage an IT expert to set it up and configure it for you, and, when something goes wrong you need help to get your server back into action.

Cloud is not the way to go for all businesses. If you run a mission-critical system or your need super-fast data access then an in-house server/storage is still the way to go. And if you think Cloud is the right option, then do consider alternatives to the big Cloud platforms. There are benefits in seeking a local, custom-built Cloud solution from your IT provider.

As always we suggest you weigh up your cloud options with someone in-the-know before you make your decision.

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