iiNet forgoes 'Amazon-style' model in cloud push

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iiNet forgoes 'Amazon-style' model in cloud push

Eyes TransACT data centres.

iiNet has unveiled its take on infrastructure-as-a-service in the latest bid to ramp up its focus on the business market.

But the company has decided to forgo the traditional instance pricing used by Amazon Web Services and locally by Ninefold, opting instead for a fully customisable compute.

Targeted at small businesses, iiNet's Business Cloud will initially launch next month from the company's Perth data centre, underpinned by VMware, Juniper and IBM infrastructure.

The company plans to expand this to its own facilities in Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as Canberra facilities picked up from its TransACT acquisition "in a short period of time".

iiNet business executive Greg Bader dismissed data sovereignty issues with off-shore data centres as "mainly a perception issue" but said storage locally was "a logical step".

However, the company did not rule out leasing further infrastructure under existing agreements with PIPE in Sydney and Brisbane, and Equinix in Sydney.

The company likely wouldn't look to build its own facilities.

"Owning our own physical real estate is not ideal and if we can lease it we will," Bader said. "When we don't have [enough] we can always look to our friends at NextDC."


Unlike most infrastructure-based cloud computes, iiNet's Business Cloud will allow users to individually scale up processors, memory, storage and bandwidth for each assigned virtual machine hosted on the cloud compute.

Domains and hosting manager Kevin Clark told iTnews the service provider had sought to forgo the "Amazon-style" instance pricing in an effort to provide more flexibility.

Instead, the company's pricing echos its broadband plan schemes, allowing customers from $29, $59, $149 or $349 plans.

Depending on the plan, customers will pay between 1 and 1.5 cents an hour for processors and between 3 and 4 cents an hour for memory.

Storage is charged separately at 18 cents per gigabyte while in-and-outbound bandwidth is charged at 12 cents per gigabyte per month.

The basic plan, at $29 a month, allows customers to use a single CPU, scale up to 50 GB storage and a gigabyte of memory over two virtual machines.

This could be scaled up to 16 processors, 64 GB of memory and 1000 GB of storage over 30 virtual machines for the highest tier of $349 per month.

Australian cloud provider Ninefold, for comparison, offers computes from 4 cents an hour - or approximately $29 per month - for a "micro instance" starting at 1 CPU, 384 MB of memory and 80 GB of storage.

A spokesman for iiNet confirmed firewall security and technical support would be included in the costs.

The cloud model supports standard licensing for Windows virtual machines (at 2 cents per license, per hour) as well as some Linux variants. Clark told iTnews support for RedHat Linux was also coming, pending some last-minute issues with support.

While Bader and Clark both indicated that some software-as-a-service offerings could come in future, they remained hesitant on committing to the model.

"Our focus is on what we do really well and that's large infrastructure," Clark said. "We're looking at new SaaS applications everyday, we have people knocking on our door all the time, so watch this space."


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Business ramp-up

The cloud offering comes as iiNet ramps up on efforts to move into the business market, a traditionally weak sector for the company.

"Up until now the growth in our business has largely down to the efforts of small group of people and it's been somewhat accidental - the business has never put a lot of resource behind us," Bader said. "That's changing."

Though it gained some government contracts through acquisition, Bader said the company had so far failed to take advantage of what was possibly a $10 billion opportunity in the local market.

The company's acquisition this month of Canberra-based TransACT for $60 million came as one indication of its changing path, providing it access to several internet services panels for the Federal Government and an effective foot in the door for large businesses in the city.

Other services launched independently of the TransACT buy - like iiNet's Business Voice offering - had gone "gang busters" according to Bader, selling approximately 400 services since launch last month.

The company is planning further approaches to government, such as a video conferencing project for psychiatric care with NSW Health.

Bader said iiNet had also begun discussions with some government departments to use the company's cloud for disaster recovery.

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