Overnight, Microsoft announced the creation of an Azure appliance which HP, Dell and Fujitsu will sell and use to deliver Azure services to customers, both on premise and in company datacentres — a development that could lead to a much more local Azure.
For Fujitsu, the appliance is part of a new wide-ranging global relationship for cloud.
Fujitsu's cloud services and products based on the Windows Azure platform will be first available at the company's datacentres in Japan, starting at the end of 2010. Other locations will follow, although Fujitsu's executive general manager of marketing and chief technology officer for Australia and New Zealand, Craig Baty, was quite tight-lipped about if or when Australia would be one of those locations, saying it was "subject to business cases".
"At this stage the other global locations are being evaluated," he said.
Baty pointed out that Fujitsu had invested millions of dollars in building out tier 3 datacentres in Australia.
"We've made a point of using that as a differentiator for our offerings in Australia.
"The intention is to expand the capability of customers globally to access [Azure] based on local needs," Baty said. Australia's closest Microsoft Azure datacentre is currently in Singapore.
To work with customers and independent software vendors (ISVs), 5000 consultants and developers will be trained to develop new applications on the Azure platform as part of the relationship. Some of those trained would be in Australia, according to Baty.
"Locally, our more than 600 Microsoft specialists will work with our customers, ISVs and Microsoft to ensure we have a solid understanding of our market requirements. We will promote the new cloud services and solutions, such as system integration, cloud migration and managed services, to our customers and ISVs utilising the Azure platform in both Fujitsu and Microsoft datacentres locally and globally," Rod Vawdrey, chief executive officer, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand said in a statement.
Dell has said that it will immediately begin implementing the "limited production" release of the appliance to host "public and private" clouds for its customers.
Dell, HP and Fujitsu have all said they will also help Microsoft develop the appliance for large enterprise and hosting customers to deploy in their own datacentres.
Dell and HP were unable to provide a local spokesperson before publication to discuss the implications of the announcement for the local market. Baty declined to comment on how Microsoft's relationship with Dell and HP would differ to that with Fujitsu.
Longhaus research director Sam Higgins said that the Fujitsu agreements would make the messaging for Microsoft a bit easier: the company could say, for example, if you want an onshore Azure, use Fujitsu.
Fujitsu running Azure in Australia would mean that it could guarantee that Azure application data remains in the country, Higgins said. "Using this model they can actually fail over to [its Western Australian datacentre]," he said.
Microsoft has previously said that even if it had a datacentre in Australia, it couldn't promise data would stay down under, because it would fail over to offshore datacentres when outages occurred.