Microsoft invests in critical national infrastructure to accelerate Australia’s digital transformation


Azure Central regions now available to deliver the mission-critical cloud for Australia and New Zealand

Microsoft has announced the availability of Azure Australia Central – two new Microsoft Azure cloud regions located within highly secure, resilient Australian-owned facilities of Canberra Data Centres. These regions are specifically designed to support the mission-critical demands of government and critical national infrastructure, accelerating the opportunity for digital transformation in Australia and New Zealand.

Reflecting the new business opportunities Azure Australia Central provide, Microsoft also announced 47 partners, both local and international, are leveraging the unique characteristics of the platform. These include SAP, Telstra Health, AXON, DXC, Accenture, Dimension Data, Veritas, Citrix, and Leidos. Australian software companies including Intelledox, Gravity, GIS People and Ralleo also build on Azure to serve local customers and enter new markets globally. Open source partners such as RedHat, Cloudera and MapR will also be delivering open source solutions on the Azure Australia Central regions. A more extensive list of partners is included at the end of this release.

The availability of Azure Australia Central follows last week’s announcement that Microsoft Australia has launched an initiative to deliver critical cloud computing skills to 5,000 public sector workers by 2020, which will help thousands of Australians build new skills and careers to fuel their professional growth and the growth of our local economy.

Since 2014, Microsoft has operated Azure regions in Sydney and Melbourne serving the needs of government, enterprises, commercial customers and application builders.  Azure Australia Central regions deliver high availability and performance, low latency, disaster resilience and the opportunity for real time data streaming and analysis. Highly secure and with the leading security certifications, these two new regions make Azure the ideal cloud platform for the challenging demands of mission critical computing.

A unique difference of these Azure regions is the capability to locate existing systems, private clouds, specialised networking or safety-critical systems within the same facilities as Azure, and indeed directly connected to Azure.  The hybrid flexibility, performance and security this delivers enables the modernisation of even the most complex applications.  Along with direct connectivity within these facilities and direct connectivity over the private Australian Intra Government Communications Network (ICON), Microsoft Azure now offers a unique capability for high-performance, very low latency networking between these two Australian Central regions.

“Microsoft continues to expand its cloud infrastructure in response to growing customer demand and rapid innovation of cloud services,” said Tom Keane, Head of Global Infrastructure, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp. “As we drive innovation globally, we listen locally to tailor our approach to serve the specific needs of our customers, as we have for the governments and critical national infrastructure sector in Australia and New Zealand.”

Integrated with Microsoft Azure regions in Sydney and Melbourne, Microsoft’s Azure is the only global cloud provider to deliver both high availability and disaster resilience, within country and distributed across multiple metropolitan regions with no compromise on data sovereignty.

Approved critical national infrastructure clients including banks, utilities, telecommunications, healthcare, transport and other sectors will benefit from being part of the restricted community admitted to the Azure Australia Central regions.

The two new Azure regions in Canberra offer a broad range of features for IT and application development including infrastructure virtualisation, data management, security management and application services as a platform.  The range and capability of these services will rapidly grow from initial availability to address scenarios in artificial intelligence, data science and internet-of-things.

Azure Australia Central regions forms an important element of Microsoft’s global cloud network announced in 50 locations around the world.  Microsoft recently announced two new Azure Government regions in the United States for data classified Secret, the availability of our France Azure regions, and the intention to deliver new regions in Switzerland, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia, said: “Microsoft is deeply committed to Australia and New Zealand and our continued and significant investment in mission critical cloud is testament to that. We expect Azure Australia Central to play a catalysing role in accelerating the transformation of the public sector and through that, enhance the government services millions citizens in both countries utilise every day.

“To that end, our unique partnership with Canberra Data Centres ensures complete flexibility for Government and national critical infrastructure providers. Organisations can leverage Azure Australia Central, they benefit from our open approach to computing, and they can use an extensive and growing array of Government-certified Azure services.

“At the same time, they can co-locate private clouds or other infrastructure right alongside Azure within Canberra Data Centres, with no compromise of trust or performance.”

Customers can deploy their own applications and infrastructure within Canberra Data Centres alongside and connected to Azure via Microsoft ExpressRoute, offering high degrees of flexibility as well as network performance and security.

The Australian Government’s secure ICON can be leveraged by Federal Government Agencies to keep networking costs down and ensure high performance and low latency. Access to Azure Australia Central will be tightly controlled and limited to Australian and New Zealand Government users and approved critical national infrastructure organisations.

Greg Boorer, Chief Executive Officer, Canberra Data Centres, said: “We have worked with Microsoft to ensure that Azure Australia Central is optimised for Government mission critical computing. We operate an Australian and New Zealand owned, defence-accredited facility, and employ staff with Australian NV1 clearance.

“Everything we do is focused on ensuring the success of our clients and the security of their data. Bringing Microsoft Azure Australia Central regions online will spur innovation and efficiency.”

The two multi-datacentre campuses of Canberra Data Centres are the only commercial data centre facilities in Australia that are designed with the physical security controls necessary for Top Secret government data.  They currently operate with Secret accreditation, The concentration of secure connectivity including ICON provides an added benefit for government agencies with secure, highly cost-effective network access to this new generation of cloud computing services.

Mission critical foundations

The new Azure regions are intended to serve both Unclassified and Protected data, with the appropriate controls at the personnel, physical, information and governance level.  Microsoft has to achieve Protected certification in compliance with Australian requirements.

James Kavanagh, Azure Engineering Lead for Microsoft Australia said: “Microsoft has been leading the way on government security certification since we first opened in 2014.  We have completed extensive security assessments for both Unclassified and Protected data and have over 50 services across Microsoft Azure and Office 365 that have completed the formal Certification process of the Australian Signals Directorate at Unclassified(DLM) level”

“Our investment in physical, personnel and software security and our understanding of the sophisticated requirements of Australian government has been a major factor in our decision to offer these regions.  We have a high regard for the rigor of Australian Signals Directorate and IRAP assessors and we deeply understand the necessity of adapting and implementing specific controls to meet Australian requirements, standards and processes.  This is especially the case for the handling of Protected classified data which demands a higher degree of physical and personnel security controls along with complete transparency on supply chain integrity.”

“Australian government quite rightly has sophisticated compliance processes and controls for Protected-classified data – controls that we have designed to exceed here in Canberra” said Kavanagh.

The digital transformation of Government and critical national infrastructure is moving at pace, supported by Microsoft Azure:

  • The Victorian Supreme Court is undertaking a digital transformation that uses Microsoft Azure to connect all 34 courtrooms and underpin a digital case management solution to streamline and speed the process of justice.
  • The Department of Human Services is exploring how intelligent Azure cloud services and bot technologies can support employees and ultimately expand consumer engagement channels.
  • The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has placed Dynamics365 and Microsoft Azure at the heart of a new system that is streamlining Australian Border Force cargo inspections.
  • The new Bendigo Hospital, Victoria’s newest acute care facility, is delivering anytime anywhere access to patient and clinical information with the help of local Microsoft partner Mexia on Microsoft Azure.
  • Emergency services in Queensland, NSW and Victoriarely on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 to respond in the event of natural disasters.
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is one of the first Government agencies to federate with Microsoft Azure and one of the first Government Departments in APAC to roll out Dynamics365, which is proving a powerful ally for both Department staff and Australian businesses.

Partner Ecosystem

With Azure Australia Central now online and a rich array of partner solutions in place, there is an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the transformation of both the Government and critical national infrastructure.

Damien Bueno, VP Strategic Industries and Markets, SAP Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are taking our global partnership with Microsoft to the next level in Australia via the Azure Australia Central regions. SAP and Microsoft will help Federal Government customers run their most mission-critical applications and workloads within the secure Private SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud on Microsoft Azure in the Canberra Date Centres. The SAP HANA Enterprise Managed Private Cloud provides our customers with a guided path to move from an On-Premise environment to a Cloud Ready state.

“The Azure Australia Central facility in Canberra addresses the requirements of our Government customers who are eager to apply the real-time capabilities of in-memory computing in the cloud, but may have concerns about hosting data remotely. As part of our partnership, SAP and Microsoft jointly plan to co-engineer, go to market, and provide support services for solutions that will help ensure the best cloud experience for our Government customers.”

Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia, concludes: “We are delighted to have 47 launch partners celebrate with us today the availability of Azure Australia Central regions. In addition, our extended Australian partner network of 11,000 businesses may leverage this opportunity as they work to serve customers in government and national critical infrastructure. In doing so, that’s approximately 290,000 Australians and their organisations who can play a more direct role in creating our future and creating jobs for the next generation workforce coming through school and universities.”


Comments are closed.