Darwin company opens 'tropical cloud'

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Darwin company opens 'tropical cloud'

Area9 becomes VMware Australia's third vCloud Powered certified partner.

Darwin managed service provider Area9 has become the third VMware vCloud Powered provider of infrastructure-as-a-service in Australia.

The company’s Darwin-based data centre, whilst small in scale, services businesses throughout the Northern Territory using the latest virtual server technology from VMware.

The company provides its Territorian customers their complete IT needs as a service – be it a self-service provision of virtual servers, thin client desktops, email, software hosting, licensing and upgrades.

Area9's hosting platform is based on VMware vSphere software, Cisco Nexus switches, Dell servers and EMC and Hitachi Data Systems storage systems.

Speaking at a launch event at the company’s data centre, Area 9 technology director Chris Coleman said the service struck a balance between the flexibility of the cloud model and the convenience of local sales and service.

“Cloud computing can enable you to use IT without the expense of buying new servers and software every three years or so,” he said.

“It allows businesses to access the best of what’s available in IT without having to buy it yourself.

“Your systems are managed here in the Northern Territory, and the service desk is here in the Northern Territory. So when you’ve got a problem, you’re not going to get on the phone to a faceless large organisation that gives you a recorded message saying you’re call is important to us - you get a real person with real skills that will solve your problem, real quick.”

Duncan Bennett, managing director of VMware Australia said Area9's technical prowess bettered far larger service provides nationally and internationally. He travelled to an official opening event for Area9's cloud computing service to experience the company's first "tropical cloud".

“Area9 is the third service provider out of 400 to be certified vCloud powered,” he said. “Technology doesn’t have geographic boundaries.”

Northern Territory Minister for Business and Employment Rob Knight was also on-hand at the event. He said he hoped the cloud computing services could help “make the Territory's businesses more competitive and give them capacity to expand.

“Our businesses need as much support as they can get,” he said. “We aren’t embarking just on the national scene as a destination for business but on the international scene.”

Customers at the event reported that using the service had completely shifted the way they pay for and use IT resources.

Cameron Kroker, managing director of logistics company Keep Moving said the company had decommissioned its in-house servers and desktops and now relies exclusively on Area9 for virtual server provision and thin-clients.

He said the beauty of cloud computing was that he could focus exclusively on delivering his services to customers rather than being concerned with IT.

“IT, sorry to say, has become a bit of a non-event,” he remarked.

Next steps

Coleman said Area9 was interested in acquiring a vBlock all-in-one cloud computing stack, but had an existing relationship with Dell which made it far more economical and scalable to continue using the lower cost servers as part of its hosted offering.

Coleman also said the service provider has quite deliberately resisted the temptation to throw too many workloads at any given server.

Area9 uses virtualisation as a means of providing superior services rather than for server consolidation, he said.

The Intel Xeon-powered Dell servers are packed with 96GB of RAM but he will not allow any servers to run past 20 percent CPU capacity for fear of adversely impacting performance.

The Darwin data centre is connected via both Telstra and Amcom fibre, but will offer NextGen Networks fibre once the Federal Government's regional broadband blackspot program reaches the Top End.

The company is considering building a second facility in Alice Springs to offer further redundancy.

Brett Winterford travelled to Darwin as a guest of VMware.

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