Microsoft has today gone live with Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online hosted in data centres located in Australia.
The move is a key step in the rollout of Microsoft cloud services in Australia, with Azure Australia going live last October, but Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online up until now being hosted in Singapore.
Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online will use the same infrastructure as its Azure public cloud. While this is widely understood to be housed in NextDC in Sydney and Melbourne, neither party has ever confirmed this. A Microsoft spokesperson would only say the company "builds and leases data centre space around the world".
Office 365 partners can deliver geo-redundant backup as well as faster performance, said Microsoft’s director of partner business and development, Philip Goldie.
Microsoft announced the March timeframe for local hosting back in December.
Existing Office 365 customers with services hosted in its Asia Pacific region in Singapore will be automatically moved to Australia unless they opt-out. Customers will be given six weeks advance notice of their move date, which will occur out of business hours.
Existing CRM Online customers can contact Microsoft support to request a move.
Microsoft has also achieved IRAP security compliance, which approves Office 365 for processing, storing and transmitting unclassified sensitive government data. The assessment covered Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online and Skype for Business, as well as Microsoft's cloud and infrastructure operations and Australian data centre facilities.
Next: Partners speak about pent-up demand
Microsoft partners expect the arrival of Office 365 on Aussie shores to drive uptake, with some customers waiting for locally hosted services.
Chris Greatrex, chief executive of Sydney-based Artis Group, said: “There’s massive pent-up demand among government and some of our finance clients. We think it’s going to be huge, both Office 365 and Dynamics.”
Greatrex said Artis is focusing on integrating Office 365 with ERP products. Customers include a federal government agency that will go cloud for collaboration and ERP.
“That’s where the money is,” he said. “There’s not a lot of money in Office 365 on its own, but if you go in and start developing solutions for clients that have it deployed, that’s a very interesting value proposition for us. It differentiates us from a lot of other partners that used to do Small Business Server on-premise and now do Office 365. They don’t have that development capability.”
Loryan Strant, managing director of Office 365 specialist Paradyne, told CRN that one of its clients, a legal firm in Canberra that works for the Department of Defence, was waiting for local hosting to become available. “The customer is signed up, just ready to go."
Government agencies facing regulatory requirements to host data onshore are an obvious target, and Strant said legal firms and local councils had also been showing interest.
Brad Rappell, who runs Queensland-based Microsoft partner CloudFirst, said his company had been deplying cloud solutions held outside Australia “and although the solutions are very robust, there’s always been some level of concern from some Australian customers about ‘where does my data reside?’
“Those questions now are pretty much taken out. The customers can see that their data is not only held, but also backed up in Australia."
CloudFirst has just revealed a 2,500-seat Office 365 deployment for real estate franchise Harcourts.