Will IBM pip Azure at the Aussie cloud post?

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Will IBM pip Azure at the Aussie cloud post?

Spoiling the biggest launch party of the year.

IBM plans to launch its first Softlayer cloud services from Australian data centres as soon as late July, according to sources familiar with the build, which may pip the public launch of Microsoft Azure at the post.

Microsoft has for over 12 months been promising Azure cloud services would be made available from data centres in Sydney and Melbourne, with NextDC widely tipped to be playing host after announcing a $60 million win of a "large corporate" customer this time last year.

Microsoft has network traffic running between the nodes and has been taking existing customers on tours of its facilities with a view to signing them as early adopters prior to an official launch.

By contrast, Microsoft's key rival, Amazon Web Services, doesn't allow customers to see its facilities, while Google won't even provide customers of its Compute Engine service any guarantees of where data is processed and stored.

Microsoft has not set a date for when the Azure service will be available to the public, and will only commit on record to launching the service before the end of the year. 

"Microsoft is working hard to bring the new regions online and as soon as there’s an update on the timeline we’ll be sure to let you know," a spokesman said.

But while Microsoft plans what should be the launch of the year, IBM has quietly been working to prepare its own cloud services in Sydney and Melbourne as a chance to steal Redmond’s thunder down under.

Big Blue’s Softlayer cloud service, acquired one year ago this month, has long aspired to expand into Australia and the company has been gradually attempting to migrate customers onto the service from its shuttered Smartcloud Enterprise service.

Sources at IBM confirmed that the Melbourne node will be functional by mid-July for an official launch in August, with Sydney to follow before the end of the year.

An official spokesperson for IBM said the company will only commit to launching the Melbourne service “in Q3", with no date set for Sydney, as per the company’s previous disclosure to The Australian Financial Review.

In any case, the SoftLayer build isn't expected to be anywhere near the scale of what Microsoft has proposed for its investment in Australia.

It is highly likely that at least some of IBM’s Softlayer compute cloud will be hosted in Digital Realty’s new facilities in Sydney and Melbourne

Back in September 2011, Softlayer CEO Lance Crosby told iTnews he planned to invest between $20 million and $80 million in infrastructure to expand into Australia, prior to being acquired by IBM.

At the time Crosby was eyeing off data centre space with Digital Realty, which had hosted Softlayer racks the world over. IBM has hinted on several occasions since that it intends to continue to host services with the same provider.

Neither IBM nor Digital Realty was willing to commit to this on the record.

SoftLayer, while a minnow in comparison to Amazon Web Services and Azure, is relatively agnostic at the OS, hypervisor and database level. Its future differentiator, however, is as a hoster of BlueMix, a PaaS platform for IBM middleware likely to appeal to those that have already built systems and skills around Websphere and Java.

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Brett Winterford

One of Australia’s most experienced technology journalists, former iTnews Group Editor Brett Winterford has written about the business of technology for 15 years.

Awarded Business Journalist and Technology Journalist of the year at the 2004 ITjourno awards and Editor of the Year at the 2009 Publishers Australia 'Bell' awards, Winterford has extensive experience in both the business and technology press, writing for such publications as the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

As editor of iTnews Brett has led a team of award-winning journalists; delivered speeches at industry events; authored, commissioned and edited research papers, curated technology conferences [The iTnews Executive Summit and Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit and also shares the judging of the annual Benchmark Awards.

Brett's areas of specialty include enterprise software, cloud computing and IT services.

Read more from this blog: System II

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