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VIDEO: Telstra wants Office 365 on its cloud

Telstra is negotiating with Microsoft to allow it to host Office 365 in its Australian data centres, to overcome some client concerns that at present the cloud based service is hosted in Microsoft's Singapore data centre.

Speaking at the Security 2011 conference in Sydney today Telstra chief technology officer Dr Hugh Bradlow said that the current situation, where Telstra provides access to Office 365 as a cloud service, but with client data hosted in Singapore was only ever intended as an 'interim measure'. 'Our intention is to host the data in Australia,' he said.

He acknowledged that there were concerns from some organisations that the Office 365 cloud was operated out of Singapore. He said that he believed it would take a long time to establish international conventions which might provide a measure of comfort to users regarding the security and privacy of their data when it was held offshore.

Rather than wait for that, 'Our intention is to migrate to locally held data,' he said.

Dr Bradlow was unable to say when that might be achieved. However he said Telstra already had the data centre capacity it would require to offer the service locally.

He said that the speed at which Telstra could move on its plans was controlled by Microsoft.

Responding to iTWire's questions about the plans a Microsoft spokesperson said; 'Microsoft is in ongoing discussions with its Office 365 partner Telstra. Those discussions are commercial and in-confidence and as a result it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.'

Telstra and Microsoft jointly launched the Office 365 service in Australia in June. Even then Telstra was signalling its hopes to move some of the processing and content to Australia.

At the launch Phillip Jones, executive director of innovation and product management at Telstra, said "no doubt some capabilities will be brought onshore," although he wouldn't say what or when.

Clearly Telstra is now hoping all the processing can be shifted to its local data centres.

Microsoft might also be more open to the notion of sharing the burden of hosting Office 365 after the embarrassing two hour outage that the company endured earlier this month, which affected some of its US customers.

Dr Bradlow said that support for cloud based services of all types was gathering steam, although he acknowledged that there remained a debate regarding the security of cloud offerings. However while he said that for the banks and Department of Defence, third party clouds would probably never match their internal security, 'for the average organisation the threats against virtualised data centres are remote.'

He said that while there were some threats - nominating the so called Blue Pill malware which is targeted at virtual environments - the threats against individuals were greater and rising, making cloud services a generally safer bet.


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