Amazon cache move a 'game changer' for Australia

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Amazon cache move a 'game changer' for Australia

But don’t expect US rivals to follow.

Amazon Web Services' first moves toward locally hosted cloud services has been hailed as a "game changer" in the local data centre market by real estate services firm Colliers International.

But technology solutions director, Kevin Burman, and project services consulting director, David McEwen, said the move was unlikely to be a catalyst for similar migrations from Google or Microsoft.

Thought of as one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry, Amazon last week confirmed the launch of its first Australian cloud service location, providing content distribution and domain service nodes from Sydney.

The 33rd global location of its kind for the cloud giant, it is understood to be hosted out of Equinix's Sydney facilities and is expected by many to be a forerunner to a full suite of cloud services in Australia, making it the cloud giant's fourth country location.

The launch of Australian services would allow its customers to take advantage of lower latencies and overcome the data sovereignty issues considered by high-risk sectors as a key barrier to adopting public cloud services.

However, Colliers' Burman said Amazon's strategy is "out of all proportion to anything we've seen from a cloud provider so far".

He said the local presence could overcome business nerves about moving into public cloud services, particularly for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes.

"By looking at the way in which they build in redundancy and resilience and [disaster recovery], simply by you ticking a box on your order on a user-pays basis at the end of each billing cycle, I think is an absolute game changer for a specific chunk of the market," Burman told iTnews.

"Amazon straddles that market sector quite strongly and deals at an infrastructure level with lots of stuff which we've had to deal with up until now with procedures — business continuity and disaster recovery planning."

Burman and McEwen pointed to development and testing as an obvious use case for locally hosted Amazon instances.

Several local start-ups and companies including News Ltd and Vodafone Australia already use US-based infrastructure for such purposes, as well as for long-term storage.

Even high-risk institutions, including Westpac, use some form of overseas-hosted infrastructure for development, given the relatively innocuous nature of many of those data sets.

Local versions of the same infrastructure would likely serve best to cut development times and spur adoption of services to host more critical data.

But Burman said Microsoft and Google were unlikely to follow Amazon's push into Australia, with the strong dollar, carbon-intensive energy production and small market all posing high barriers to Australia becoming a local cloud hub.

Google is believed to quietly cache data locally, while software-as-a-service offerings from both it and Microsoft are resold by Australian companies, but hosted in Singapore or in the US.

Plans to launch a locally-hosted version of Microsoft's Windows Azure platform as a service through partner data centres appear to have been sidelined.

Federal communication minister Stephen Conroy recently visited Google headquarters to discuss the potential of local cloud hosting, but would not reveal any result from the talks.

"We're quite attractive at the moment because our economy is in relatively good shape but apart from that we're a comparative nobody compared to perhaps their interests in China and elsewhere," McEwen said.

"[US cloud providers] haven't necessarily that the rest of the world has the same issues and wants to treat them in the same way. The population here is so small that compared to a US city, the opportunity is not so significant."

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