Microsoft has confirmed plans to launch Australia as one of its Azure regions, with data centres to be located in Sydney and Melbourne. That means that rather than having to locate cloud projects in the nearest Azure data centre (Singapore), they can remain on Australian shores.
Microsoft confirmed the plans in a blog post today. Australia will operate as an independent region, with Sydney and Melbourne used to provide geo-redundancy. (Singapore is paired with Hong Kong for similar purposes).
Microsoft has previously been non-committal about plans to build outside its existing global regions. Despite the announcement, the centres aren't expected to be launched for some time.
One key question will be the pricing model. To date, Microsoft has applied consistent pricing across each of the eight regions in which it currently operates Azure data centres. It will be interesting to see if the same approach applies in Australia. Rival Amazon Web Services, which opened a Sydney data centre year, charges a premium for the location, reflecting the higher costs of bandwidth and labour in the Australian market. Microsoft currently has a commitment to match AWS pricing.
The question of whether hosting within Australia is a legal requirement remains open for many businesses, but many industries still prefer to keep data on-shore. We'll have more on this development later today.
Windows Azure expands Downunder [Microsoft Australia Blog]