Microsoft has confirmed that its cloud services portfolio, Office 365 and Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) online, will be available from two data centres in Australia by 31 March, 2015.
The facilities are based in New South Wales and Victoria.
Microsoft Office corporate vice president John Case told media in Sydney that the availability of Office 365 and Dynamics CRM online in local data centres will be a “really good outcome” for the Australian market.
“When the services go online in March, we will be giving [Australian] customers weeks of warning that we will cut you over to the local cloud services,” he said.
However, for Dynamics CRM online, Australian customers need to opt in so they can be migrated over to the local service by Microsoft.
According to Case, the vendor’s decision to offer cloud services from Australia was due to customer demand and the Australian government’s Privacy Act amendments that took effect in March 2014.
The amendments prohibit the sending of personal information outside Australia. International cloud providers need to comply with this legislation.
Case said that delivering its cloud services from Australian data centres will provide customers with faster performance and help address data residency, particularly in sectors such as healthcare, education, government and financial services.
He mentioned three Australian organisations that are using Office 365 in the cloud – Coles, the Queensland government and the government of Western Australia’s Mental Health Commission.
Coles rolled out Office 365 to its 100,000 employees throughout Australia in 2012. The supermarket chain also implemented Microsoft SharePoint Online, giving employees 24/7 access to the Coles portal through any Web-enabled device.
According to Case, Microsoft will never co-locate business and consumer data on the same racks in its data centres.
“If we have business and consumer data at the same facility, it won’t be in the same racks. There will be separate administration and access,” he said.
Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow said the company wants to take “all means necessary” to support and protect customer data.
“For customers in certain sectors, data sovereignty is a higher priority. Financial services and public sector are the most keen to have data residing in country,” she said.
The announcement comes three months after Microsoft began offering its Azure cloud services in Australia from data centres in NSW and Victoria on 27 October 2014.
Speaking at TechEd Australia in Sydney at the time, Microsoft's executive vice president for cloud and enterprise, Scott Guthrie, said Azure enables customers to use both infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities.
“Each of our data centre buildings is roughly one rugby pitch in size. There is enough space to hold about 600,000 servers,” he said at the time.
Guthrie said that offering a local service will lower latency rates and address data sovereignty concerns for Microsoft’s Australian customers.
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