Today is an exciting day for Microsoft as we share new plans to significantly enhance our cloud services in Australia. 

As part of our commitment to flexibility and choice, we are announcing the planned expansion of a new Windows Azure major region for Australia. When completed, this new major region will enable the delivery of Windows Azure services locally from Australia and allow us to better address our customers' and partners' cloud computing needs.

The new Windows Azure major region in Australia will consist of two sub-regions located in New South Wales and Victoria. These two locations will be geo-redundant, offering our customers the ability to back up their data across two separate locations, both within Australia.  We know that providing disaster recovery, while ensuring data sovereignty goals are met, is critical to many of our customers and we look forward to delivering a solution that meets those requirements.

This approach is important for organisations like iCareHealth Australia, a provider of clinical care and medication management software. iCareHealth plan to take advantage of Australian-based services to achieve enhanced performance and reduced total cost of ownership, all while maintaining high levels of security and data sovereignty. As Chris Gray, Managing Director, says, “Windows Azure services will help iCareHealth deliver the electronic tools to nursing and care staff to assist them in their work of delivering consistent, high quality care to an increasingly larger number of elderly Australians, and those with special needs”.

Our customers want choice and that’s why Windows Azure embraces the power of “and” with fully supported, generally available, Platform Services and Infrastructure Services (Virtual Machines and Virtual Networking), unmatched price performance and a comprehensive approach to hybrid cloud with deep connections to your datacentre and your service provider’s datacentre.

An Australian organisation that is leveraging the strengths of a hybrid solution to innovate and streamline its IT operations is Fortescue Metals Group (FMG). FMG, the world's fourth largest iron ore producer, is using StorSimple for its on-premises storage while taking advantage of the elasticity in Windows Azure. Vito Forte, CIO, says that: “StorSimple and Windows Azure provide the best of both worlds—the economies of the cloud with on-premises levels of performance and security”. FMG is also in the process of building its environment for testing and development, and expects to move as much as 50% into Windows Azure by the end of June. System Center 2012 will play a central role for the company to help manage its hybrid environment. Vito captures it nicely when he says, "Public cloud comes first, but hybrid cloud/on-premises gets used where necessary".

Customers can get started now by using virtual machines to build test and development environments that give developers a platform to innovate at a faster speed, and by migrating .NET and Open Source applications, SharePoint, SQL and Active Directory onto virtual machines in Windows Azure.  When the new region is fully operational, our teams will be here to help you migrate your applications, virtual machines and services.

Today’s announcement is focused on satisfying our customers’ needs for an enterprise class public cloud, delivered locally, with all the security, reliability and scalability they expect from a trusted enterprise technology provider like Microsoft.  It is the starting point for a new era of cloud services in Australia.

You can learn more about Windows Azure and how it can help you get all the benefits of cloud computing today by visiting windowsazure.com, where you can access a free trial, or talk with one of our partners.