Local data centres for Microsoft Azure elicit cheers, shrugs

Local data centres to bring slightly better performance, say Microsoft Azure customers

TechEd Australia is held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. Credit: Adam Bender

TechEd Australia is held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. Credit: Adam Bender

Australian users of Microsoft Azure voiced mixed levels of excitement at TechEd about next year’s planned opening of two local data centres.

While Azure users in Australia had previously relied on data centres in countries including Singapore and the United States, Microsoft in May announced plans to open two geo-redundant data centres in Victoria and New South Wales. While a solid date has not been revealed, the data centres are expected to open in 2014.

Speaking at TechEd on the Gold Coast, Microsoft customers said the local data centres would provide slightly higher latency and better geo-redundancy. However, some noted that they are not dissatisfied having to rely on international data centres.

Cash Converters, an international pawn broking service with 150 locations across Australia, has its primary Azure data centre in Singapore and secondary location in Hong Kong. “When the Australian data centres come online, we’ll probably make Australia our secondary or our primary [location] instead of Hong Kong,” said James Miles, Cash Converters software development manager.

“Latency is 180 to 200ms [in Singapore], so that’s not really noticeable by the user,” Miles said. “The bigger benefit is we can better manage our geo-redundancy, because if all the lines out of Australia were cut, at the moment we would theoretically be offline.”

Having data centres in Australia will alleviate the data sovereignty concerns of some of MYOB’s customers, said MYOB chief technology officer Simon Raik-Allen. He also agreed with Miles about the geo-redundancy benefits.

In contrast, Canon Australia digital project manager Myles Lawler appeared agnostic about the new data centres. He said it would not have much impact on a new image upload and management service that Canon plans to release in Australia later this year.

The location of data centres “wasn’t really a concern”, he said. “I’m aware that there’s an Australian data centre going to be built, but [to provide benefit] it would have to address an innate experiential need asked by customers.”

Similiarly, startup Project Tripod co-founder Jordan Knight said having local data centres was relatively meaningless to his company’s mobile photography app.

“Most of our content is stored in Azure Storage and that absolutely already has a CDN endpoint in Sydney. So, as far as accessing images out of our system, it’s nice and fast at the moment.

“We don’t have any sovereignty issues in our data, so happy to have it stored around the planet,” Knight added.

However, Lawrence Fox, co-founder of a startup called Co-opRating, said he was excited about performance gains provided by local data centres. The company has made a skills search and collaboration platform meant to compete with LinkedIn.

“We’re running off Seattle at the moment ... but we would certainly prefer less latency,” he said. Fox added that the company would be “proud” to keep data in Australia. “We’ll wear it as a badge.”

Adam Bender travelled to the Gold Coast for TechEd as a guest of Microsoft.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags azurelatencyMicrosoftTechEdgeo-redundancydata centresdata sovereigntyAustraliaRedundancy

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