Microsoft to launch Australian Azure hosting region

After previously dismissing data sovereignty as a non-issue, Australian customers will have the option to consume Windows Azure services through local datacentres, at some unknown point in the future.

Microsoft will be launching Australian datacentres to host its Windows Azure public cloud service locally and has shifted its position on data sovereignty in the process.

The IT juggernaut had previously thought of data sovereignty as an "imaginary issue" that stood in the way of cloud computing adoption.

Today, Microsoft has announced its intention to expand Windows Azure's choice of hosting locations to include Australia with Azure data centres coming online in New South Wales and Victoria. The new locations will allow Australian users of Azure to have a layer of redundancy within the nation's boundaries, a move aimed squarely at allaying concerns of data sovereignty.

Microsoft Australia server and tools business group lead, Toby Bowers, told ZDNet there were no specific dates on when the new Azure regions will go live but said the company is working hard to get things up and running.

He also noted that Microsoft believes data sovereignty is a legitimate concern for customers.

"Depending on a range of customer scenarios, data sovereignty is a concern," Bowers said. "Relating to this specific announcement, it's not just data sovereignty but disaster recovery, and reduced latency.

"Obviously the local datacentres in Australia presents a specific value proposition to customers with data sovereignty concerns, but it may not be the case for a majority of our customers."

Microsoft has seen encouraging uptake of Windows Azure in Australia particularly in the enterprise space. According to Bowers, enterprise subscription of Azure has jumped by 49 percent in the past six months alone.

"We've seen a lot of excitement and demand from our Australian customers and that's why, as our global data centre strategy, we are looking to launch this new major region," he said.

Windows Azure's biggest competitor, Amazon Web Services (AWS), launched its Australian hosting region late last year. But Microsoft isn't concerned about AWS' head start in this region.

"We have a differentiated value proposition when it comes to hybrid IT," Bowers said. "Our goal is to provide a consistent platform for our customers for data, applications, and infrastructure that can be flexible across their own data centres and our public cloud."

Azure recently passed the $1 billion mark in global annual sales .