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Microsoft Windows Azure in Australia

While the competition between enterprise grade cloud hosting platforms in Australia is rapidly on the rise it is being made increasingly difficult to know which offering is going to be best for you and your business. Now that Microsoft can offer their cloud computing platform ‘Windows Azure’ in this country as a competitive hosting environment against other industry giants such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and VMware vCloud Air it is worth looking into some of the key benefits they can offer over their rivals.

Responding to the concerns of many Australian businesses and something that will appeal to customers operating in Government, financial and health care sectors amongst others, Azure offers complete sovereignty of data meaning that they can guarantee confidential client information stays stored on Australian shores. This solves many issues for organisations where previously a migration to cloud was not an option because data was hosted outside of Australia. Now, clients can move to the cloud with Azure knowing their data is kept within Australia and staying compliant with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).

Additionally to their security in data sovereignty, Azure, Office 365 and AWS are the only public cloud services in Australia to pass an Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Industry Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) compliance assessment (Azure being the first). This provides certification that Azure has appropriate and effective security measures in place in areas such as intrusion detection, cryptography, cross domain security, network security, access control and information security risk management.

Azure is currently hosted in datacentres in two cities – Melbourne and Sydney, which of course means faster speed and latency for staff and customers knowing their data is kept close by. While AWS, Google and VMware public cloud offerings offer local city hosting, none can provide it for more than a single location in Australia. This is a fundamental difference for a business wanting to host their mission critical applications or intellectual property in the cloud. Azure has the advantage over their competition by being able to offer a Disaster Recovery or Load Balanced environment across two local cities.

They offer more than just redundant data centres for hosting servers and applications though. Azure is the leader in cloud integration with other Microsoft tools such as Active Directory, SharePoint and Office 365 so if your organisation is mostly a Microsoft shop then investing in a cloud platform that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products makes sense. For example, Azure Active Directory allows you to extend identity and authentication into the cloud meaning users can use the same ID and password to log onto their office workstation as well as Office 365 and any other Microsoft SaaS applications.
Another feature to make life easier is Azure’s ability to build a true hybrid cloud environment. Unlike some other competitors “cloud only” approach Azure allows you to use your on-premises resources and applications to use cloud services such as the cloud database and storage services. This means that you can run the same Windows and Linux virtual machine in Azure that you use on-premises simplifying operations and migration of workloads to and from the cloud. In other private cloud environments often your VM might run on a proprietary hypervisor meaning that although migrating your workload to it will be fairly simple, moving it back can be extremely difficult and costly.

Figuring out which cloud provider is the most cost effective for your organisation is more than likely going to cause the biggest headache. It is going to be entirely dependent on how complicated a service is required. If it’s just a matter of deploying and running a few VMs then Azure is around the same mark as other big corporations and also provides the simplest costing options to achieve this. Some will offer cheaper rates to get your workload in but sting you when you want to withdraw data or terminate your service. This is not something Azure charge for. With the ever falling Australian dollar however Azure has recently had to increase its service cost in this country by 26% for new customers making it more difficult for anyone to invest in local cloud services across the board. Only time will tell if other major providers will be forced to follow suit.

When the time comes to consider which cloud platform is most suitable for your organisation Azure in Australia can offer some true strategic benefits. Many can take confidence in the fact that it is created by Microsoft – a trusted industry leader whose technology powers some of the world’s most recognisable and widely used tools. Azure Australia is growing rapidly and adds support for various features, applications and different technology platforms on a regular basis so if you are planning a migration to the cloud, it should definitely be high on your list of considerations.