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Fujitsu-Microsoft cloud floats to Australia

Australia will be one of five countries initially targeted for a hybrid cloud based solution announced overnight by Fujitsu which allows organisations to use Microsoft Windows Azure components, but choose where their data is located. For Australian clients that means they can choose to keep their data in Australia - overcoming the data sovereignty issue that has held many back from a holus bolus race to the cloud.

In the past Australians using Microsoft cloud services had their data hosted mainly in the company's Singapore data centre. The arrangement with Fujitsu, which was announced overnight in the US, will allow organisations to choose where their data is stored.

In a media release issued by Fujitsu, IDC chief analyst Frank Gens was quoted saying that; 'Our research shows public sector organisations in most countries are concerned about data security. Providing options to meet this concern could open up a much larger market for public cloud services and in our opinion is definitely a trend to watch."

Just this week Roze Frost, general manager of IT for TransACT, now the subject of a takeover bid by iiNet, said that although the company had opted for a cloud based back office set of applications to manage project accounting, inventory management, payroll, HR and fixed assets - it's not using NetSuite's US based cloud to store any customer data because of data sovereignty issues.

She said that she had been trying to convince NetSuite to open a local data centre, but had started off using the US based cloud to host just a 'safe set of data.'

It seems likely that over time cloud providers which want to sell to companies or government which need to comply with legislative or regulatory requirements regarding the location of their data will have to either open multiple data centres to operate their clouds internationally, or strike hybrid cloud arrangements such as that announced by Fujitsu and Microsoft.

Telstra has for example been angling for something similar. It provides access to Microsoft's Office 365 service, and handles all the billing and access to that cloud based service - but the application and data is run out of Microsoft's Singapore data centre.

In August Telstra chief technology officer Hugh Bradlow revealed that the company was negotiating with Microsoft to allow it to host Office 365 in its Australian data centres, to overcome some client concerns about where their data was currently stored.  Dr Bradlow said that the initial arrangement with Office 365 data hosted in Singapore was only ever intended as an 'interim measure'.

'Our intention is to host the data in Australia,' he said, acknowledging that a number of organisations were concerned about the physical location of their data.

The Hybrid Cloud Services which Fujitsu has announced link Microsoft Windows Azure-based components to Windows Server-based components running either in a customer's premises or on a Fujitsu cloud platform. This lets Fujitsu run an enterprise or government application in Windows Azure using data generated in one or more customer locations and to hold that data securely in a location of the customer's choice.

Fujitsu has launched the service in the UK, US, Australia, Spain and Canada initially.

In a media release Cameron McNaught senior vice president of cloud for Fujitsu said the announcement would allow 'multiple cloud integration'.

He said; "Hybrid Cloud Services builds on our extensive experience in delivering Windows Azure services including the world's first independently managed Microsoft Windows Azure cloud environment delivered from the Fujitsu Global Cloud platform in Japan."


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